Monday, February 1, 2010

Virginia Water Radio 2: Week of 2-1-2010

Welcome to Virginia Water Radio (Episode 2) for the week of February 1, 2010. This week's show is hosted by, Alan Raflo, research associate at the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, located at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Our show presents news and notices that relate to Virginia’s waters, from the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean.

[Sound file archived 12-5-11; for access, contact Virginia Water Radio.]

  • Rainfall up to nearly 5 inches in some places between January 21-25 led to flooding in several Virginia river basins on January 25-26. Various news reports indicated that the high water—along with mudslides—closed many roads and school systems, stranded some motorists, required pumping in Scottsville to prevent flooding in that Albemarle County town, caused a one-day shutdown of the Pulaski County Service Authority’s water-treatment plant, and caused shellfishing areas in parts of the James and Rappahannock River to be closed.
  • According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch on January 27, the U.S. Interior Department has indicated that a sale of leases for oil and gas exploration off Virginia’s shore may be delayed until 2012 to allow more time for environmental studies. This followed the request in December 2009 by then Gov.-elect Robert McDonnell, in a letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, that the federal Minerals Management Service expedite its work towards the lease sale and ensure that the sale can take place in 2011.
  • The January 25th Daily Press in Newport News reported that the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will eliminate its annual testing of water bodies for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), at a savings of $365,000. This is part of DEQ’s efforts to cut $5 million from its budget. Since 1998, the department has monitored PCB levels in fish from 50 to 100 sites annually. PCBs formerly were used in a variety of industrial products. Congress banned production of PCBs in the 1970s, but the persistent chemicals remain in sediments and present a fish-contamination risk in many waterways in Virginia and nationwide.
  • Old Dominion Electric Cooperative continues to seek approvals necessary for its proposed coal-fired power plant in Surry County. Public hearings on the Cooperative’s rezoning request were schedule for February 1 before the Dendron Town Council and February 4 before the Surry County Board of Supervisors. The cooperative has said some 50 federal, state, and local permitting processes will be needed. According to a May 2009 article by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the proposed plant’s estimated cost is $4 to 6 billion; its capacity could be as much as 1,500 megawatts, making it Va.’s largest coal-fired power plant; and it would use water from the James River, requiring a new pipeline.
  • On January 11, U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced that agency plans to seek by 2013 new regulations that would place stricter controls on stormwater runoff from developed areas, and that would increase the number of farms that fall under runoff rules for confined animal feeding operations. (Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1/12/10)
  • On January 6, Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Terrence Ney ruled in favor of Fairfax County in its water-rate lawsuit against the City of Falls Church. Fairfax County sued over Falls Church’s practices of charging water rates that generate surplus revenue beyond expenses and of transferring that surplus to the City’s general fund for non-water purposes. Falls Church has asked the court to stay and reconsider the ruling, and a hearing on those motions was held on January 29.


This week we featured one of the most well-known traditional Appalachian tunes: “Cripple Creek,” performed by Virginia native Wade Ward in 1962 on the Smithsonian Folkways album “Traditional Music from Grayson and Carroll Counties.” According to various Web sites, the origin of the tune is not known for sure, but many Virginia musicians believe the song was inspired by the Cripple Creek that flows through Wythe County and joins the New River near Austinville.


First, in government policy and regulatory meetings:
  • The 2010 Virginia General Assembly is in session until March 13. Every year the General Assembly considers many bills related to water. The Virginia Water Center has some services to help you follow water-related legislation. To find out more, call Virginia Water Radio at 540-231-5463.
Upcoming meetings about Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, for impaired waters include the following:
  • On Feb. 8 in Suffolk, for shellfish waters in the lower Nansemond River and its tributaries. For more information, contact Jennifer Howell at (757) 518-2111.
  • On Feb. 12 in Alexandria, for Cameron Run, Holmes Run, and Hunting Creek. For more information, contact Katie Conaway at (703) 583-3804.
And in upcoming educational events:
  • The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Grasses for the Masses continue through February 20 in several locations in the Bay watershed. The workshops show how to grow aquatic plants to help restore Bay habitat. For more information, contact the Bay Foundation’s Richmond office in Richmond at (804) 780-1392. 
  • On February 11 at Belle Island State Park in Lancaster County, a biologist with the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge will present “Invasive Plants and What Homeowners Can Do.” For more information, phone (804) 462-5030.

Virginia Water Radio is a product of the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, which is solely responsible for the show’s content. Hosting and bandwidth for this podcast are also provided by the Water Center. We invite you to visit the center online at

Show notes and production assistance has been provided by Patrick Fay. Technical assistance provided by Innovation Space. Editorial assistance provided by Danielle Guerin.

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.