The Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy has received a $41,432 grant from the Tides Foundation, on the recommendation of the Google Data Centers Grants Fund, to support efforts to secure clean drinking water for the Lucketts community.
The nonprofit noticed water quality issues in May 2021, after volunteers conducted stream surveys along a tributary of Limestone Branch that flows through Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s JK Black Oak Wildlife Sanctuary. Those surveys indicated poor water quality, prompting Loudoun Wildlife to reach out to the Friends of the Shenandoah River to conduct bacterial testing. They found excessive E. coli contamination in the stream.
Both Limestone Branch and Clark’s Run in the Lucketts area have been listed as impaired by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality since 2002 because of their high E. coli levels. The limestone topography of the area means surface water quality directly affects the groundwater quality, according to Loudoun Wildlife. That means that Lucketts residents getting their water from wells can see their drinking water affected by the quality of the nearby stream water.
Loudoun Wildlife will work in partnership with the Friends of the Shenandoah River to implement a one-year comprehensive water quality testing program, along with public outreach events to promote awareness of and provide services for clean drinking water.
Friends of the Shenandoah River will collect 216 watersamples at six stream and wastewater treatment plant locations along the Clark’s Run and Limestone Branch stream systems over the course of a year. Meanwhile, certified monitors from Loudoun Wildlife’s Stream Monitoring program will conduct six biological assessments of water quality at three stream sites, using benthic macroinvertebrate surveys, counts of small aquatic animals and insect larvae in the water. That data will be distributed to local, state, and federal agencies, and to the general public.
Loudoun Wildlife and the Friends of the Shenandoah River also plan to host a community meeting and distribute educational materials on drinking water quality to alert local residents to this health concern and offer the opportunity for well water testing. Residents with contaminated wells will be given technologies and resources for clean drinking water, as well as follow-up well water testing.
“We are very appreciative of this funding from the Tides Foundation, by the recommendation by the Google Data Centers Grant Fund. This will allow us to work with the Friends of the Shenandoah River to gather water quality data for Clark’s Run and Limestone Branch and improve the safety of drinking water for the residents of the Lucketts area,” stated Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy Executive Director Michael Myers. “This collaborative project is a wonderful example of how low-cost volunteer-driven citizen science surveys can be used to identify water quality concerns, leading to more intensive monitoring methods, and resulting in access to clean drinking water.”