Monday, April 12, 2010

Virginia Water Radio 12: Week of 4-12-2010

Welcome to Virginia Water Radio (Episode 12) for the week of April 12, 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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NEWS
  • On March 18, the U.S. EPA announced that it will conduct a study of the potential water-quality and public-health impacts of the hydraulic fracturing method of recovering natural gas from bedrock reserves, such as the Marcellus shale formation that underlies parts of New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, and a small part of Virginia. The technique, which has been used for several decades, involves injecting a mix of water and chemicals underground to displace natural gas from rock. Following a large increase in gas drilling using this technique in the Marcellus formation and elsewhere in recent years, concerns have been raised about the water supply needed for the process, how to treat wastewater that is recovered, and what impacts may occur from the drilling water that remains underground. News Source: EPA Initiates Hydraulic Fracturing Study: Agency seeks input from Science Advisory Board, U.S. EPA News Release, 3/18/10.
  • According to the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, on March 25 the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced that it had completed the environmental impact report on a proposed third reactor at Dominion Virginia Power’s North Anna Power Station in Louisa County. Dominion has applied to the Commission for a “combined license” covering both building and operating a third reactor; a decision by the Commission is expected in 2011. The Commission’s environmental report identified certain environmental impacts that would be caused by constructing the reactor and an associated transmission line, but concluded that these impacts should not preclude development of the third reactor, if Dominion decides to build it. News source: Nuke plan passes environmental test , Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 3/26/10. 
  • On April 1, the U.S. EPA issued a regulatory guidance to its regional offices in Appalachian states that details stricter permitting requirements on disposal of mountaintop mining waste in stream valleys, or “valley fills.” EPA estimates that about 2,000 miles of small streams in the Appalachians have been covered by waste from mountaintop mining. The agency will seek public comment on the guidance, but the document became effective immediately for all new permits. According to accounts of the announcement in the Bristol Herald-Courier and the Washington Post, the action was applauded by various environmental and Appalachian community groups who oppose mountaintop mining and associated valley fills, while various representatives of the coal industry and mining associations asserted that the new rules will increase coal-mining costs and reduce the ability to mine coal in Appalachia. News Sources: EPA Issues Comprehensive Guidance to Protect Appalachian Communities From Harmful Environmental Impacts of Mountaintop Mining, U.S. EPA News Release, 4/1/10; New EPA mining rules have environmentalists jumping for joy, coal companies worrying about future, Bristol Herald-Courier, 4/2/10; and Environmental regulations to curtail mountaintop mining, Washington Post, 4/2/10. EPA’s Web site for all the guidance-related documents is “Surface Coal Mining Activities under Clean Water Act Section 404,” at http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/guidance/mining.html (as of 4/7/10). 
  • And our last news items this week comes from the Virginia Rural Water Association on their Source Water Protection Program. Throughout 2010 the Association is helping localities develop source water protection plans that describe in detail the local public water systems, delineate protection areas around the sources of the public water, and describe how localities can implement protection areas. The process is guided by a committee of citizens and is designed to be a grassroots, local effort; it is not a mandated regulatory requirement. The Association provides the assistance free of charge. For more information on developing a Source Water Protection Plan, localities may phone J.P. Gannon at (540) 449-9400. Information source: J.P. Gannon, Virginia Rural Water Association, 4/7/10. For more information: The Web site of Virginia Rural Water Association is http://www.vwra.org. Information about the Virginia Department of Health’s Source Water Protection activities is available at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/drinkingwater/source/swpp.htm.].

WATER SOUNDS AND MUSIC

This week we feature another mystery sound: the American Toad.

This well-known amphibian is found throughout Virginia, except for the southeastern corner of the state, where the Southern Toad takes its ecological place. After mating in March and April, females lay long, gelatinous strings of eggs in temporary pools. Adults develop within about two months, move to land habitats, and proceed to feed on a wide variety of insects, spiders, and other animals. Information from Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia, by B.S. Martof et. al., University of North Carolina Press/Chapel Hill (1980); Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Virginia, J.C. Mitchell and K.K. Reay, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries/Richmond (1999); and the Web site of the Virginia Herpetological Society Web site, http://fwie.fw.vt.edu/VHS/.]

UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS

First, in government policy and regulatory meetings occurring from April 15 to April 21, and it’s a busy schedule this week:
  • On April 15, 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.
  • On April 19, the Stormwater Best Management Practices Clearinghouse Committee meets in Charlottesville. For more information, phone David Dowling at (804) 786-2291. 
  • Also on April 19, the Middle Peninsula State Park Master Plan Advisory Committee holds a public-comment meeting in Gloucester. For more information, phone Robert Munson at (804) 786-6140. 
  • On April 20, the Game and Inland Fisheries Board meets in Richmond. For more information, phone Beth Drewery at (804) 367-9149.
  • Also on April 20, the Gas and Oil Board meets in Lebanon. For more information, phone David Asbury at (276) 415-9700. 
  • On April 21, the Board for Professional Soil Scientists and Wetland Professionals meets in Richmond. For more information, phone Kate Nosbisch at (804) 367-8514. 
  • Also on April 21, the Advisory Committee on the General Permit for Nitrogen and Phosphorus Discharges and Nutrient Trading in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, meets in Glen Allen. For more information, phone George Cosby at (804) 698-4067. 
  • And again on April 21, the Abandoned Mined Land Advisory Committee meets in Big Stone Gap. For more information, phone Roger Williams at (276) 523-8208.
Finally, in upcoming educational and recreation 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 www.vwrrc.vt.edu.

Show notes and production assistance were provided by Patrick Fay. Recording assistance was provided by Innovation Space at Virginia Tech.

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, or visit our web site at www.virginiawaterradio.org.