Monday, February 15, 2010

Virginia Water Radio 4: Week of 2-15-2010

Welcome to Virginia Water Radio (Episode 4) for the week of February 15, 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.
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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 www.vwrrc.vt.edu.
  • The Fiscal Year 2011 federal budget submitted to Congress on February 1 by President Obama proposes a $200 million decrease—from about $3.5 billion to about $3.3 billion—in the Clean Water and Drinking Water Revolving Funds that provide money for states to make loans for wastewater-treatment and drinking water systems. The 2011 proposed level is still considerably higher, however, than the 2009 budget level of $1.5 billion. According to a White House fact sheet, the 2011 proposal would provide about $61 million in these funds to Virginia.
  • On February 9, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that a spill of at least several hundred gallons of diesel fuel on or about February 2 killed about 650 fish in a Henrico County stormwater-management pond and stream. A Virginia Department of Environmental Quality spokesperson characterized this as a “fairly good-sized fish kill.” The spill came from a fuel tank for emergency generators at the county’s public-safety building.
  • On February 3 the Nature Conservancy announced that it has purchased, and placed under a conservation easement, 13,350 acres in the Dragon Run and Mattaponi River watersheds in Essex, King and Queen, and Middlesex counties. The conservation easement restricts development and other activities. This is the largest conservation-easement transaction to date in Virginia. Dragon Run watershed is a swampy, biologically rich area flowing into the Piankatank River. The Mattaponi River joins the Pamunkey River at West Point to form the York River.
  • The impacts of energy generation on water resources is a common theme for the Southern Environmental Law Center’s inclusion of three Virginia locations on the Center’s annual list of the 10 most “endangered” environments in the U.S. South. Released on February 1, the Center’s list included the Chesapeake Bay, the Roanoke River basin, and the southern Appalachian Mountains. For all three areas, the threats asserted by report included emissions from power plants or the potential impacts of mining for energy resources. The Southern Environmental Law Center is headquartered in Charlottesville.
  • On January 26, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission approved a proposal to place in the James River the first artificial reef for Atlantic Sturgeon. According to the January 27th Virginian-Pilot, the 300 ft. x 70 ft. rock structure is to be placed in February—prior to the fish’s spring spawning season—in the James in Chesterfield County. A $50,000 federal grant is funding the project. The Atlantic Sturgeon once was common in Virginia waters, but its numbers have decreased because of water pollution, dams, ship strikes, and other causes. In September 2009, the Natural Resources Defense Council filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking to have the species placed on the federal Endangered Species Act. 

WATER SOUNDS AND MUSIC

First, a correction from last week. I incorrectly gave the title of the song as “Cyclone of Rye County.” But “Cyclone of Rye Cove” is the correct name of the 1929 song by A.P. Carter about that weather tragedy in Scott County, Virginia.

This week we feature another mystery water-related sound: the call of a Wood Frog.

Wood Frogs gather near small ponds or pools to breed for only a short time in early spring, so you have to be in the right place at the right time to hear their mating call. Thanks to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and Lang Elliott of NatureSound Studio for permission to use this recording from the 2008 CD, “The Calls of Virginia Frogs and Toads.”


UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS

First, in government policy and regulatory meetings:
  • On February 19 in Big Stone Gap, the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy will hold a public-comment meeting on the Fiscal Year 2010 Abandoned Mine Land Consolidated Grant Application. For more information, contact Roger L. Williams at (276) 523-8208.
  • The Virginia Marine Resources Commission meets February 23 in Newport News; for more information, phone (757) 247-2200. 
  • Here are three upcoming meetings about Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, for impaired waters. 
    • February 22, in Virginia Beach, on the TMDL for Albemarle Canal, North Landing River, West Neck Creek, and several other waterways located in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. 
    • February 23, in Accomac, on the TMDL for Pettit Branch, located in Accomack County.
    • And also on February 23, in Chesapeake, on the TMDL for the Elizabeth River and several tributaries, located in the four Hampton Roads cities. For more information about these three TMDL meetings, phone Jennifer Howell at (757) 518-2111.
And in upcoming educational events:
  • The Virginia Water Center’s Water Seminar Series continues on Feb. 19, 9:30-10:30 a.m., in Fralin Auditorium at Virginia Tech, when Dr. Mauricio Herrera of the University of Costa Rica will present, “Water Management Schemes in Rural Costa Rica: An Interdisciplinary Approach and Perspectives for the Future.” For more information about this talk or others in the series, phone Patrick Fay at (540) 231-5624.
  • And on March 5-6th, in Norfolk, Old Dominion University and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science will hold the Virginia Regional Competition of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, known as the Blue Crab Bowl. Sixteen high school teams will compete to answer ocean-science questions. For more information, phone (804) 684-7735.

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.