Sunday, May 2, 2010

Virginia Water Radio 15: Week of May 3, 2010

Welcome to Virginia Water Radio (Episode 15) for the week of May 3, 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 no longer available, as of 3-5-12.


  • A research paper published in March found that 20 out of 40 sites on large streams or rivers in the United States showed statistically significant temperature increases over periods from 21 to 98 years and ending between 2003 and 2007. The most rapid rate of increase was 1.4 degrees F per decade at the Delaware River near Chester, Penn., from 1965 to 2007. The Potomac River near Washington, D.C., increased about 0.8 degrees F per decade from 1922 to 2006. Two sites showed temperature decreases, including the Jackson River at Hot Springs, Va., which decreased about 1.8 degrees F per decade from 1979 to 2003. At the other 18 sites, no statistically significant trend was seen. The authors attribute the temperature increases to urbanization and global climate change. Such temperature changes, even though small, can have various ecological effects, particularly if continued over many years. News source: The paper, Rising stream and river temperatures in the United States, was published in the March 23, 2010, online version of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. The lead author, Sujah Kaushal, is at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, and one of the co-authors, Michael Pace, is now at the University of Virginia’s Department of Environmental Sciences.
  • The 2010 Virginia General Assembly passed several renewable-energy measures. Here are the basic provisions of three of those measures. 1) House Bill 803 and Senate Bill 623 establish the Green Jobs Tax Credit, which allows a $500 tax credit for “green” jobs created since January 1, 2010. 2) House Bill 928 creates the Universities Clean Energy Development and Economic Stimulus Foundation to help fund research, development, and commercialization of alternative fuels, clean energy production, and related technologies. 3) And House Bill 389 and SB 577 create the Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority to support wind-powered electric energy facilities off Virginia’s coast beyond the Commonwealth's three-mile jurisdictional limit. News source: Governor McDonnell Signs Green Energy Legislation at Old Dominion University, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 4/2/10. Additional information: The other bills signed by the governor on April 2 were the following (with quotes from the governor’s news release): HB1022—Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) Program: “provides that an investor-owned electric utility will receive triple credit toward meeting the goals of the RPS program for energy derived from offshore wind.” HB 533/SB 112—SAVE Act: authorizing “investor-owned natural gas utilities to petition the State Corporation Commission to implement a separate rider that will allow for recovery of certain costs associated with eligible infrastructure replacement projects,” including projects that enhance safety or reliability and those that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. HB 806—Alternative Fuels Revolving Fund: adding improvement of infrastructure (such as refueling stations) as a goal of the Alternative Fuels Revolving Fund. SB 110—Clean Energy Financing: authorizing localities, in order to secure loans for the initial acquisition and installation of clean energy improvements, to place liens against any property where such clean energy systems are being installed. For more information about these bills, visit the Virginia Legislative Information System Web site at
  • On April 28, Governor Robert McDonnell announced that the federal government approved disaster assistance for Virginia’s recovery from the two winter storms that occurred between February 5 and 11, 2010. The assistance will help cover costs of damage to critical infrastructure, debris removal, and related emergency services in 29 counties and eight cities. Assistance was also approved for the costs of snow removal in 13 of these counties and seven of these cities. In February, the federal government approved assistance for 31 counties and nine cities affected by the December 18-20, 2009, snowstorm. News sources: Governor McDonnell Announces Federal Disaster Assistance for State and Local Governments, Virginia Governor’s News Release, 4/28/10; and Governor McDonnell Announces Federal Disaster Assistance for State and Local Governments, Virginia Governor’s News Release, 2/16/10
  • And our last news item this week is our monthly water status report. First, in precipitation: According to the Southeast Regional Climate Center, precipitation across Virginia between March 30 and April 28 ranged from about one-half inch to about 4 inches. Most areas of Virginia received below-normal rainfall—compared to the historical record for this period—while rainfall in most of far southwestern Virginia was about normal. Second, in stream flow: According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s WaterWatch, streamflows averaged over April 1 to April 28 were normal in most of the Commonwealth, with below- Virginia again being drought-free, as it has been since November 2009. But be on the look-out: abnormally dry conditions have recently appeared in parts of North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Maryland. Additional information: Below are the monthly precipitation and 28-day-average stream flow maps referred to above (please note the color-code chart for the stream flow map). They are included because it’s not easy to find archives of those maps at the respective Web sites. In contrast, archives of the drought maps are easy to find at the Drought Monitor Web site.

    Precipitation Map

    Streamflow Map (28-day average, as of 4/28/10)



This week we feature “Bear Creek Blues,” recorded by Sara and Maybelle Carter in 1940 and taken from the 1996 CD “Virginia Traditions: Southwest Virginia Blues” by Global Village Music and Ferrum College’s Blue Ridge Institute.

Wise County has a stream called Bear Creek, a Bear Creek reservoir, and most recently, a Bear Creek housing development. So was A.P. Carter referring to that Bear Creek when he wrote the lyrics to this song? If any listeners know the answer to that mystery, Virginia Water Radio would love to know!


First, in government policy and regulatory meetings:
  • On May 4, the Division of Mined Land Reclamation will hold an informal hearing on a notice of violation at Cumberland River Coal Company’s Black Mountain mine near Dunbar in Wise County. For more information, phone Harve Mooney at (276) 523-8271.
  • And on May 11, the Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Board’s Northern Area Review Committee meets in Richmond. For more information, phone David Dowling at (804) 786-2291.
Next, here is one upcoming meeting about Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, for impaired waters:
  • May 6 in Lynchburg, on the TMDL for the James River and several tributaries in Amherst and Bedford counties and the City of Lynchburg. For more information, phone Paula Nash at (434) 582-5120.
Finally, in upcoming educational events:
  • On May 7 in Henrico, the Virginia Water Monitoring Council holds its annual conference, titled “What's Coming Down the Pipe--Exploring Emerging Water-quality Issues.” For more information, phone Katie Register at (434) 395-2602.
  • On May 8 in Leesburg, the non-profit organization Wisdom Spring is holding Walking for Water, an annual event to raised funds for water wells, medicine, and education in the African country of Burkina Faso. For more information, phone Susan Hough at (703) 505-5152.
  • And last, looking somewhat farther ahead, On May 25-26 at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, Abingdon, the Clinch-Powell Clean Rivers Initiative holds its annual symposium, this year titled “Conservation Management of the Clinch and Powell River Systems: How Towns, Roads, and Development Influence Aquatic Environments.” For more information, phone Braven Beaty at (276) 676-2209. 

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 the Office of University Relations 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