Riverkeeper Report: New Year’s Eve spent on the Blackwater

Published 8:41 am Friday, January 6, 2012

The Blackwater River in the summer takes on a shade of green. -- Jeff Turner | Tidewater News

Spirit of Moonpie, Freezing Deer and I spent the 30th through the 1st on the Blackwater below the Steel Bridge.

The water was 7 foot on the U.S. Geological Survey gauge, a little cloudy and 44 degrees. Air temps ranged from 30 to 60 degrees.

We picked up one bag of trash, and I saw no water quality issues. However we did smell what we thought was sewage several times. I don’t know if some fields nearby have been sprayed with manure or what. Anyway I’ll find out.

We saw where the City of Norfolk is working on the pump station at Burdette. Looks like they will be putting a bulkhead in there to keep the place from falling into the river.

I was kinda hoping it would, and Norfolk would abandon the site. That way in the summer the river would not get into such bad shape from them pumping all the water out of the river. I know that’s not going to happen though.

Norfolk gets that water practically free, and they are not about to give that great deal up. That’s right, Southampton County does not get a dime, and Norfolk takes our water and then sells it.

The only thing we get is a practically dead river every year because there is not enough flow to maintain a healthy aquatic environment. It gets so bad in the summer the river turns green (see photo) and chokes to death. Thank goodness it’s not like that in the winter.

Fishing on this trip was OK, that is if you like fishing for bowfin. We caught 10 fish to 7 pounds jigging a chrome blade bait. I only caught two small largemouth casting. That was it. So another year is gone.

The Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeeper Program is getting ready to turn 12. It stuns me that it has been that long since I started this great organization. I have certainly had a lot of help along the way.

Some are still doing what it takes to keep this organization going, some have just drifted off and some have left us to go and be with the Lord. I am blessed to have been helped by all of them.

Some notable facts from the past year are: With what was collected on Clean Rivers Day and what I collect every patrol, we removed 6,758 pounds of garbage from our environment. I went on 21 patrols spending 59 days on the river. That’s not including the Eco-Cruises and single day outings.

I did 12 Eco-Cruises in 2011, showing 101 people what our rivers are like and why it is important to protect them. Also I had 19 eagle sightings, which is twice the number I have had in any other year.

I caught the largest catfish I have ever caught out of the river — a 30-pound blue.

The year 2011 is gone, and it was pretty cool being on the river for the New Year. While we did not have any fireworks of our own, we heard plenty going off in the distance, and that was how we knew the year had turned.

There is no other place on earth I would have rather been to see the new year in and with the love of my life (Freezing Deer) with me and Spirit of Moonpie. It was wonderful to be on the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.

JEFF TURNER is riverkeeper for the Blackwater/Nottoway Riverkeeper Program, an environmentally conscious organization that focuses on keeping local waterways healthy. BNRP’s parent organization is The Waterkeeper Alliance. Contact Turner at his website, www.blackwaternottoway.com.