Monday, March 15, 2010

Virginia Water Radio 8: Week of 3-15-2010

Welcome to Virginia Water Radio (Episode 8) for the week of March 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.

Audio removed 4-2-12.

This week's sound segment, on Spring Peepers, was redone in Episode 105, 4-2-12.

  • The population level of Menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay continues to be an issue for federal and state fishery managers, scientists and others working on Bay restoration, and the Omega Protein Corporation of Houston, which operates a Menhaden harvesting operation out of Reedville, Virginia. Menhaden management received attention in the 2010 Virginia General Assembly: two failed bills would have transferred regulatory authority over Virginia’s Menhaden fishery from the General Assembly to the Marine Resources Commission; while two successful bills extend until 2014 the current Bay Menhaden harvest quota of 109,020 metric tons; the quota was set in 2006 by the Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission and ratified by the General Assembly in 2007. Omega’s current annual Bay Menhaden harvest in about 90,000 metric tons per year. Complicating the issue is a recent decline in funds available for research on Menhaden populations, according to the March 2 Richmond Times-Dispatch.
  • The 2010 Virginia General Assembly also passed two bills—HB 1220 and SB 395—that delay stormwater regulations currently under consideration by the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board. The regulations establish criteria for the quality and quantity of stormwater generated from land-disturbing activities, such as construction. Implementation of the regulations will now be delayed until no more than 280 days after the establishment of the U.S. EPA Chesapeake Bay TMDL, and no later than December 1, 2011. The bill also requires the Board to establish an advisory committee to review the regulations.
  • The February 24 Charlottesville Daily Progress reported that a series of studies are underway revisiting various aspects of a long-term water-supply plan approved by Charlottesville and Albemarle County in 2006. The new studies followed increased cost estimates in 2008 for the expansion of Ragged Mountain Reservoir—a key part of the plan approved in 2006—and continuing local calls for reexamining other options. On February 23, the Lynchburg engineering firm Wiley & Wilson presented to the Charlottesville City Council their review of the plan to build a pipeline and sediment-removal facility to take water from the South Fork Rivanna River reservoir to an expanded Ragged Mountain reservoir. The study called the concept “reasonable” and estimated the cost at $63 million. This does not include the costs of the Ragged Mountain reservoir expansion; new cost estimates for that project are expected in May.
  • And in our last news item this week, from the March 7 Bristol Herald-Courier: Through the middle of the 1900’s, coal mining routinely produced large piles of rock and waste coal, known as “gob piles.” The Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy says that Virginia has hundreds of gob piles, some as large as 20 acres and several hundred feet thick. The piles can collapse (a collapse in Dickenson County in the 1950s killed two people), slide into homes, contaminate waterways, and catch fire spontaneously, producing toxic air emissions. Eight companies in Virginia mine the coal from the piles, eventually removing them, but only seven piles are currently being mined and only 15 have been removed. The new Dominion Virginia Power coal-fired plant under construction in Wise County is designed to burn the waste coal from gob piles, and this is expected to increase activity to reduce the number of piles in the area.


This week we featured another mystery water-related sound: the Spring Peeper frog.

This small frog is found throughout Virginia and most of the country east of the Mississippi. It moves in late winter and early spring to small, clean pools of water, where the males make a high-pitched “peep” to attract mates. In large breeding congregations, the combined peeps create a loud chorus.


First, in government policy and regulatory meetings:
  • On March 18, the State Water Control Board meets in Richmond. For more information, phone Cindy Berndt at (804) 698-4378.
  • On March 19, the advisory committee on Sewage Handling and Disposal Regulations meets in Richmond, with several video conference sites throughout the state. For more information, phone Allan Knapp at (804) 864-7458.
  • On March 23, the Marine Resources Commission meets in Newport News. For more information, phone Jane McCroskey at (757) 247-2215. 
  • On March 24, the advisory committee on the general discharge permit for seafood processing facilities meets in Richmond. For more information, phone George Cosby at (804) 698-4067.
  • And also on March 24, the Board for Waterworks and Wastewater Works Operators and Onsite Sewage System Professionals meets in Richmond. For more information, phone David Dick at (804) 367-8595.
Upcoming public meetings about Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, for impaired waters:
  • On March 23, in Lynchburg, on the TMDL for Beaver Creek in Campbell County. For more information phone Kelly Hitchcock at (434) 845-3491.
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.

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.