Monday, March 1, 2010

Virginia Water Radio 6: Week of 3-1-2010

Welcome to Virginia Water Radio (Episode 6) for the week of March 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.
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  • On February 9, Potomac Riverkeeper filed a notice of intent to sue Flour Lane LLC, the main contractor on the project to build 14 miles of new high-occupancy, or HOT, lanes on the Capital Beltway in Virginia. According to the February 10th Washington Post, Potomac Riverkeeper alleges that the contractor has taken inadequate measures to prevent sediment from reaching Accotink Creek, a Potomac River tributary. In response to the group’s notice of intent to sue, Flour Lane stated that it has met all federal and state requirements. A Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation spokesperson told the Washington Post on February 9 that the agency found sediment-control failures by the contractor seven times in the past two years, and as recently as January 2010.
  • The February 15th Martinsville Bulletin reported that Martinsville expects to provide 3 to 4 percent of its annual energy needs, and save about $420,000 per year, by generating electricity from methane being released at a closed city landfill. The city has spent about $750,000 so far on the project and expects to spend another $2.5 million, possibly receiving $1 million in federal stimulus funds. The city has received estimates that the landfill could provide sufficient methane for the project for at least 20 years. Several other Virginia localities have landfill methane-to-electricity systems.
  • On February 21, the Washington Post reported that Loudoun County has approved a Limestone Overlay Zone in the U.S Rt. 15 corridor north of Leesburg to the Potomac River. New regulations in the county's zoning and subdivision ordinances establish buffer zones, require additional studies prior to approval of development, require community wells and wastewater-disposal systems for developments of 15 or more lots, and prohibit groundwater use for irrigation. Potential water-quality impacts and potential land collapse are two concerns with development in the county’s limestone-bedrock areas.
  • According to the Associated Press on February 19, Governor Robert McDonnell’s proposed cuts to state expenditures to cover a $4 billion shortfall include temporarily closing the following five of Virginia’s 35 state parks: Caledon Natural Area in King George County; False Cape State Park in Virginia Beach; Mason Neck State Park in Fairfax County; Staunton River Battlefield Park in Halifax and Charlotte counties; and Twin Lakes State Park in Prince Edward County. The closures, which could be reversed when the state’s budget improves, would include lay-offs of wage staff and would save an estimated $500,000 per year.
  • And our last news item this week is a monthly report on precipitation, stream flow, and drought status. Precipitation across Virginia between January 25 and February 23 ranged around 3 to 8 inches. As of February 23, streamflows averaged over the past 28 days were mostly above normal or much above normal in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain, while most western Virginia streamflows were normal to above normal, compared to the historical record of flows for this part of the year. And the weekly National Drought Monitor on February 23 showed Virginia being drought-free, as the state has been since November 2009.  


This week we feature another mystery water-related sound: Brimley’s Chorus Frog, a small frog found in marshes, swamps, and wet woods in Virginia’s Coastal Plain. If you live in that part of the state, listen for this call during the species’ breeding season, typically from February to April. Thanks to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Frog Call Survey staff and to Lang Elliott of NatureSound Studio for permission to use this recording from the 2008 CD, “The Calls of Virginia Frogs and Toads.”


First, in government policy and regulatory meetings:
  • On March 9, the Department of Environmental Quality’s advisory committee on a general permit for sewage discharges of 1000 gallons per day or less will meet in Richmond. For more information, phone George Cosby at (804) 698-4067.
Upcoming public meetings about Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, for impaired waters include the following:
  • March 4 in Low Moor, on the TMDL for the Jackson River in Alleghany and Botetourt counties and the City of Covington. For more information, phone Jason Hill at (540) 562-6724.
  • March 4 in Sussex, on the TMDL for Assamoosick Swamp and several tributaries in Sussex and Southampton Counties. For more information, phone Margaret SmIgo at (804) 527-5124.
  • And March 8 in Arlington, on the TMDL for the tidal Four Mile Run in Arlington County and the City of Alexandria. For more information, phone Katie Conaway at (703) 583-3804.
Finally, in upcoming educational events:
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.