"River Star" volunteers help to restore the shoreline at BASF, Inc. Portsmouth, Virginia, during a wildlife habitat planting day, spring 1999 Photo: Jacqueline Murphy-Miller
Elizabeth River Project
Four citizens in 1991 dreamed of a cleaner
Elizabeth River in southeastern Virginia, one of the most
industrialized waterways on the East Coast, and founded the
Elizabeth River Project.
By late 1999, water quality indicators, such as
nutrients and dissolved oxygen, for the river were greatly
improved. Progress for a cleaner river can be credited with the
work done by agencies, organizations, and individuals across the
East Coast, which responded to the project founders' belief that
the dirtiest river on the Chesapeake Bay could improve if all
players, from industry to environmentalists, from regulators to
residents and scientists, worked together.
This unlikely partnership began in 1996, after the
Elizabeth River Project unveiled an 18-point Watershed Action Plan.
The following year, the Elizabeth River Project launched a "river
stars" program to encourage voluntary pollution prevention and
wildlife habitat enhancement. The community achieved more than $5
million in voluntary actions still underway, from wetland
restoration to river star business projects to federal-city-state
partnerships. Sixty organizations, including some of the region's
largest corporations, are participating. By year 2000, efforts were
focused on improving the toxic sediment quality, which is still the
worst in the bay and responsible for cancerous fish in the river
The Elizabeth River Project secured a cost-sharing
agreement in 1998 among the federal government, the state, and the
cities of Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach, for
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin a $2.4 feasibility study
to clean up the river's bottom. The corps report will include
design and cost estimates. Studies are also ongoing on how to
restore up to fourteen wetlands.
Project documentation includes a seven-page report;
newspaper clippings; the report, State of the River 2000, prepared
by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and other
scientists; a video; and ten slides.
Originally submitted by: Norman Sisisky, Representative (4th District).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.