Monday, April 19, 2010

Virginia Water Radio 13: Week of 4-19-2010

Welcome to Virginia Water Radio (Episode 13) for the week of April 19, 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Audio for this episode has been archived.


  • According to the Eastern Shore News, between December 2009 and March 15, 2010, 66 Virginia watermen participating in the Marine Debris Removal Program recovered over 9,000 lost crabbing pots (or so-called “ghost pots”) and other marine trash that can trap Blue Crabs or other aquatic animals. The program, started in 2008 and coordinated by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, pays watermen $300 per day and covers fuel costs. The $1-million annual cost of the program so far has been covered by U.S. Commerce Department funds provided after the September 2008 federal disaster declaration for the Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab fishery. News source: Watermen pull up 9,000 'ghost pots', Eastern Shore News, 3/31/10.
  • On March 23 the U.S. EPA released, for a 30-day public comment period, draft guidance for management of federal lands in the Bay watershed. The guidance describes recommended practices to reduce nonpoint source water pollution from agricultural lands, forestry activities, urban and suburban lands, and septic systems. The guidance was called for by President Obama’s May 2009 executive order on an increased federal role in Chesapeake restoration efforts. Following public comment and potential revisions, the guidance is to be included in the EPA’s Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL, for the Bay. News source: U.S. EPA Tries Reducing Water Pollution to Chesapeake Bay, WIVT/WBGH (N.Y.) Television, 3/23/10. The guidance document is available online at
  • On April 7, the Chesapeake Bay Program released its annual “Bay Barometer,” assessing the 2009 status of Bay “health indicators” and of Bay restoration and protection actions. The Bay health indicators (water quality, habitats, the lower food web, fish, and shellfish) had a 2009 score of 45 percent of stated goals (where 100 percent would indicate a fully restored Bay); this was an increase over the score of 39 percent for conditions in 2008. The restoration actions (reducing pollution, restoring habitats, managing fisheries, protecting watersheds, and fostering stewardship) had a 2009 score of 64 percent, an increase over the 2008 score of 61 percent. The report states that despite this modest progress, the Bay remains “degraded” and “in poor condition,” and that “pollution from urban and suburban areas continues to hinder the effectiveness of restoration efforts.” News source: 2009 Bay Barometer: Bay Health Poor Overall Despite Upticks in Specific Indicators, Chesapeake Bay Program, 4/7/10. More information and access to the report is available online at  
  • But our last item this week is pretty good news: On April 14, Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley announced that the most recent winter dredge survey of the Bay Blue Crab population showed a 60-percent increase over the previous year, up to 658 million crabs, the highest population estimate since 1997. The survey samples crabs at 1,500 sites in the Bay from December to March. The two governors and survey scientists attributed the population increase to actions taken by the two states since 2008 to reduce Blue Crab harvests, especially of females. The survey also found that crab reproduction this year was the sixth highest in the 21 years of the survey. With the increased populations, last year’s harvest—including a 30-percent increase in Virginia, according to preliminary estimates—took about 43 percent of available crabs, below the 46-percent harvest rate considered by scientists to be sustainable. News source: Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Population Booms to Highest Level Since 1997; 60% Increase from Last Year, Virginia Governor’s News Release, 4/14/10. For more perspective, here are links to four April 15 newspaper accounts of the Blue Crab announcement: Chesapeake Bay blue crab continues comeback, Newport News Daily Press; Chesapeake Bay crab numbers jumped 60 percent last year, Norfolk Virginian-Pilot; Chesapeake Bay's blue-crab numbers up 60 percent, Richmond Times-Dispatch; and Chesapeake Bay crabs are making a big comeback, Washington Post.   


This week we feature a selection by Tom Wisner, known as the “Bard of the Chesapeake Bay,” who died on April 2, 2010. In this song he is accompanied by his son Mark and by Teresa Whitaker, singing part of “Chesapeake Born,” from the 1978 album of the same name on Folkways Records. A Washington, D.C., native and long-time Maryland resident, Mr. Wisner dedicated his life to learning, singing, and teaching about the Bay and its protection. More information about Tom Wisner is available from A Bay's Life in Story and Song: A Celebration of Tom Wisner,, 1/16/10; and from the following two obituaries: Thomas A. Wisner, 79: 'Bard of the Chesapeake' sang about the bay he loved, Washington Post, 4/4/10, and “Bard of the Bay”—Tom Wisner-Gone But Not Forgotten,, 4/11/10.


First, in government policy and regulatory meetings occurring April 22 through April 28:
  • On April 22 is a public comment meeting on the Claytor Lake State Park Master Plan update. For more information, phone Robert Munson at (804) 786-6140.
  • On April 23, the Scenic River Advisory Board meets in Richmond. For more information, phone David Dowling at (804) 786-2291. 
  • Also on April 23, the advisory committee on Sewage Handling and Disposal Regulations meets in Richmond. For more information, phone Allen Knapp at (804) 864-7458. 
  • On April 27, the Marine Resources Commission meets in Newport News. For more information, phone Jane McCroskey at (757) 247-2215. 
  • And also on April 27, the advisory committee on the General Permit for Sewage Discharges of 1000 gallons per day or less meets in Richmond. For more information, phone George Cosby at (804) 698-4067.  
Now, here are two upcoming meetings about Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, for impaired waters:
  • April 22, in Buckingham, on the TMDL for Slate River, several tributaries to Slate River , and Rock Island Creek, all in Buckingham County. For more information, phone Ram Gupta at (540) 371-0991. 
  • And April 28, in Heathsville, on the TMDL for the Mill Creek watershed in Northumberland County. For more information, phone Margaret Smigo at (804) 527-5124.
And in upcoming educational events: 
  • On April 24, Mason Neck State Park in Fairfax County is having its Eagle Festival. Besides a chance to see eagles, the event includes canoe tours, trips to a Great Blue Heron rookery, and live shows with reptiles, aquatic animals, hawks, and owls. For more information, phone (703) 339-2384. 
  • Finally, here’s a chance for you and your camera to teach the rest of us about Virginia’s best views. The Scenic Virginia Viewshed Photo Competition is open for entries until June 30, 2010. Categories for entries are Coastal or Chesapeake Bay, Urban Landscapes, Farmland or Open Space, Mountains, and Waterways. For more information, phone Scenic Virginia at (804) 643-8439.
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 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