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- On January 15, several Virginia business leaders and politicians announced formation of the Virginia Offshore Wind Coalition, which will promote offshore wind-energy facilities and investment for the Hampton Roads area. Meanwhile, in the 2010 Virginia General Assembly, bills have been introduced that would create the Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority, also to promote offshore wind energy.
- On January 14, the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board voted to open another public comment period on major stormwater-regulation changes that the board had approved on December 9. The comment period will be February 15-March 15. The board had received 25 letters asserting that the regulations approved on December 9 differed significantly from the version that was available for previous public comment; this was sufficient to trigger a new public comment period.
- On December 21, the James River Association released its latest biennial report on the condition of the James River. Positive signs noted in the report included improvements in Bald Eagle populations, decreased nutrients from wastewater treatment plants and industries, and increased submerged aquatic vegetation. But on the negative side, the report identified a lack of progress in several fish species’ populations and in the overall level of pollution.
- The Fiscal Year 2010 Appropriations Act approved by Congress in December included several water-related items for the Hampton Roads area, including about $127 million for ship-repair piers at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth and $3 million to support oyster aquaculture in the Chesapeake Bay.
- On December 14, the State Water Control Board approved for public comment a set of amendments to Virginia regulations for land application of biosolids (treated sewage sludge). As of January 21, the amendments were under review by the Department of Planning and Budget, prior to release for public comment.
- On December 10, then-Governor Kaine announced that President Obama had granted Virginia’s request for federal disaster assistance in the recovery from the effects of Tropical Storm Ida and a coastal nor’easter storm in November. Funds will be available to help cover costs of storm-related debris removal, emergency services, and infrastructure repairs in seven cities and five counties, mostly in SE Virginia.
- And in our last news item this week: Since fall 2009, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and Virginia Commonwealth University have been leading a “healthy streams initiative.” The initiative uses habitat and biological characteristics to rank streams as “exceptionally healthy,” “healthy,” or “restoration candidate.” These rankings can then be used to focus money available for stream protection and restoration, and to help guide local land use and planning decisions.
WATER SOUNDS AND MUSIC
This week we featured another mystery water-related sound: the Fowler’s Toad.
This sample of a Fowler’s Toad was recorded in July 2009 along the James River in Albemarle County. During breeding seasons, male frogs and toads use their calls to attract mates. If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer for Virginia’s annual frog and toad calling survey, call Virginia Water Radio at (540) 231-5463 and we’ll give you the appropriate contact information at the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS
First, in government policy and regulatory meetings:
- The State Water Control Board’s Advisory Committee on Eastern Groundwater Management Area Regulations and Groundwater Withdrawal Regulations will meet on February 3 in Glen Allen. For more information, contact Melissa Porterfield at (804) 698-4238.
- On Jan. 28, at the MARE Center in Middleburg in Loudoun County, the Prince William Soil and Water Conservation District will hold its Healthy Horses, Healthy Chesapeake Bay Seminar, focusing on how horse owners can protect water quality. For more information, phone (703) 594-3621.
- On January 30, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will hold its Winter Wildlife Festival in Virginia Beach. This is your chance to see seals at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, whales in the ocean, owls at First Landing State Park, and other winter wildlife. For more information: phone (804) 367-8747.
- In early February, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation is holding Grasses for the Masses workshops on growing aquatic plants to help restore Bay habitat. Workshops are February 6 in Alexandria, Richmond, and Springfield; Feb. 7 in Virginia Beach; and Feb. 8 in Newport News. For more information, phone (804) 780-1392.
Show notes and production assistance has been provided by Patrick Fay. Technical assistance provided by Innovation Space. Editorial assistance provided by Danielle Guerin.
Many thanks this week to WEHC-FM at Emory and Henry College for helping launch Virginia Water Radio.
Opinions expressed on this show are not necessarily those of the Water Center, Virginia Tech, or this station.
If you need more information about anything mentioned this week, call us at (540) 231-5463.