Monday, May 10, 2010

Virginia Water Radio 16: Week of May 10, 2010

Welcome to Virginia Water Radio (Episode 16) for the week of May 10, 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 April 22, the U.S. EPA’s Region 3 office announced $300,000 in grants for seven pilot projects to involve local governments, organizations, and citizens in developing implementation plans for the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL. Two of the pilot projects are in Virginia. One will be under the coordination of the Rivanna River Basin Commission and involve the City of Charlottesville and the counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, and Nelson. The second Virginia project will be in Prince William County, under the coordination of the county’s public works department. The five other pilot projects are in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. News source: Local Watershed Implementation Plan Pilot Projects, U.S. EPA, 4/22/10. More information: The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Web site for the Chesapeake Bay TMDL is www.dcr.virginia.gov/soil_and_water/baytmdl.shtml. The U.S. EPA’s Bay TMDL Web site is www.epa.gov/chesapeakebaytmdl/.
  • In late April, the Chesapeake Bay Program reported that the acreage of the Bay’s submerged aquatic vegetation (also called “underwater grasses” or “Bay grasses”) increased by 12 percent from 2008 to 2009. Increases were seen in all parts of the Bay, although some areas—such as several Anne Arundel County, Md., rivers—showed decreased vegetation or even no vegetation. Submerged vegetation provides oxygen, food, and habitat for many Bay fish, crustaceans, and other animals, and the extent of submerged vegetation is a key water-quality indicator. The 85,899 acres of vegetation recorded in 2009 is the highest seen since 2002 and is about half of the Bay-restoration goal of 185,000 acres. News sources: Underwater Bay Grasses Increase 12 Percent in Bay and Rivers in 2009, Chesapeake Bay Program News Release, 4/27/10; and Bay grasses up overall, down in Anne Arundel, Annapolis Capital, 5/1/10.
  • On April 20, the non-profit organization Potomac Conservancy—headquartered in Silver Spring, Md., and with a Shenandoah River office in Winchester—began a “Fish Mystery” campaign calling for more research into the causes of intersex characteristics in Smallmouth Bass and other fish in the Potomac River and some of its tributaries. “Intersex” refers to animals showing both male and female characteristics. Besides the occurrence of intersex characteristics in Potomac basin fish, an August 2009 U.S. Geological Survey study found “widespread” occurrence of intersex characteristics in Smallmouth Bass and Largemouth Bass in several U.S. rivers between 1995 and 2004. Responding to these and other findings, in December 2009 U.S. Rep. James Moran of Virginia introduced the Endocrine Disruption Prevention Act. The bill would authorize the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to conduct a research program on how to reduce exposure—especially of children—to endocrine-disrupting chemicals. News sources: Group Asks For More Study Of Potomac Intersex Fish, Associated Press, 4/20/10; and Widespread Occurrence of Intersex Bass Found in U.S. Rivers, USGS News Release, 9/14/09. More information about the Potomac Conservancy is available at http://www.potomac.org/site/. The USGS study, “Widespread occurrence of intersex in black basses (Micropterus spp.) from U.S. Rivers, 1995-2004,” is in the August 13, 2009, online edition of Aquatic Toxicology. More information on the Endocrine Disruption Prevention Act (HR 4190) is available at the Library of Congress’s “Thomas” Web site, http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.4190
  • Also on April 20, the U.S. EPA and K. Hovnanian Homes announced a settlement over 591 alleged Clean Water Act violations in 18 states and Washington, D.C. The alleged violations are related to stormwater management at construction sites managed by Hovnanian, a nationwide home-building company. Seventy of the sites in the EPA complaint are in Virginia, and 161 sites are in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The settlement includes a $1-million fine and requirement for Hovnanian to develop a company-wide stormwater-management plan, improve various practices, and submit annual reports to the EPA. The settlement has a 30-day public comment period and is subject to approval by a federal court in Pennsylvania. News sources: Residential Homebuilder Settles Clean Water Act Violations in 18 States and D.C. Settlement affects 161 construction sites in Chesapeake Bay watershed, U.S. EPA News Release, 4/20/10, and Local sites part of Hovnanian settlement, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 4/23/10, More EPA information about the settlement is available online at www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/cwa/hovnanian.html.  
  • And in our last news item this week: The 2010 Virginia General Assembly passed legislation designating four new Virginia Scenic River segments. The new segments are six miles of the Jordan River in Rappahannock County; 10 miles of the Hazel River in Culpeper, Madison, and Rappahannock counties; nine miles of the Russell Fork in Dickenson County; and 56 miles of the Blackwater River in the counties of Isle of Wight and Southampton and the cities of Franklin and Suffolk. The Scenic River program identifies and designates rivers and streams with outstanding scenic, recreational, historic, and natural characteristics. With the four new segments, Virginia now has 28 scenic river segments totaling 610 river miles. News source: Governor McDonnell Celebrates 40th Anniversary of the Establishment of Virginia's Scenic River Program, Virginia Governor’s News Release, 4/23/10. More information on the Virginia Scenic River Program is available at www.dcr.virginia.gov/recreational_planning/srmain.shtml.  

WATER SOUNDS AND MUSIC  

This week we featured a new mystery sound: the Gray Treefrog

Gray Treefrogs are 1-to-3 inch-long and are commonly found in Virginia’s Piedmont, the Blue Ridge region, and the mountains as far south as the New River watershed. As the name implies, they live mostly in trees, except during their breeding season when they move to shallow, standing waters to mate. 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 (VHS) Web site, http://fwie.fw.vt.edu/VHS/VHS information about Gray Treefrogs). (click here to go directly to VHS information about Gray Treefrogs).



UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS

First, in government policy and regulatory meetings:  
  • On May 11, the Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Board’s two area-review committees meet in Richmond. For more information, phone David Dowling at (804) 786-2291.
  • On May 13 in Glen Allen, and on May 18 in Harrisonburg, the State Water Control Board holds public hearings on proposed amendments to the general permit for Poultry Waste Management Regulations. For more information, phone Betsy Bowles at (804) 698-4095. The regulation is (9 VAC 25-630). The proposed amendments were published in the Virginia Register on 4/12/10, and the public comment period ends 6/11/10. More information and relevant documents are at www.townhall.state.va.us/L/viewstage.cfm?stageid=5475&display=documents.
  • On May 18, the Groundwater Protection Steering Committee meets in Richmond. For more information, phone Mary Ann Massie at (804) 698-4042.

    For more information about government policy and regulatory meetings, click here for the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall, where these meetings are listed by date. TMDL meetings are also listed at the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality TMDL Web site.
      
Next, here’s one upcoming meeting about Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, for impaired waters:
  • May 13, in Williamsburg, on the TMDL implementation plan for Mill Creek and Powhatan Creek. For more information, phone Jennifer Howell at (757) 518-2111.
Finally, in upcoming educational events:
  • On May 15, the Naval Heritage Society will cross the Chesapeake Bay in a 26-foot, human- and wind-powered Monomoy pulling boat. The crossing is from First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach to Kiptopeke State Park on the Eastern Shore. Once the boat lands at Kiptopeke, park visitors can view the vessel and learn about its history, including use in marine rescues. For more information, phone (757) 331-2267.
  • And on May 19 at Mathews State Forest in Galax, and May 20 at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon, the Southwest Virginia Fire Learning Network is organizing “Fire History and Vegetation Changes in the Appalachian Mountains from Presettlement to the Present.” For more information, phone Zachary Olinger at (276) 236-2322.   

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 Gabrielle Minnich of 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 www.virginiawaterradio.org.