Monday, May 24, 2010

Virginia Water Radio 18: Week of May 24, 2010

Welcome to Virginia Water Radio (Episode 18) for the week of May 24, 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
  • In May, the environmental coordinator for the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission said the environmental clean-up of Fort Monroe in Hampton will cost the Defense Department an estimated $60-70 million. The Army will leave the 570-acre facility in 2011. Areas requiring clean-up include weapon ranges that extend into the Chesapeake Bay, underground storage tanks, an old landfill, and a former automotive repair area. After the Army leaves, the Commonwealth will own the facility and the Fort Monroe Federal Area Development Authority will manage it, possibly to offer education about the area’s military history and natural environment.  News source: Fort Monroe cleanup at $60-$70 million, (Newport News) Daily Press, 5/7/10.
  • In another water and military item: A Defense Department report released on May 18 said that oil and gas exploration activities in about 75 percent of the proposed Lease Sale 220 area would interfere with military operations, particularly those of the Norfolk Naval Base. Lease Sale 220 is a 4,500-square-mile area about 50 miles off Virginia’s shore. The Defense Department does not have a veto over proposed offshore drilling operations, but the U.S. Department of the Interior, which manages offshore lease sales, has never before approved drilling in an area to which Defense objected, according to the deputy under-secretary of defense for installations and environment.  News source: Report: Va. offshore drilling would interfere with military ops, Associated Press, as published in the Virginian-Pilot, 5/19/10.  
  • On May 10, the U.S. EPA and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (or CBF) signed a settlement of the January 2009 lawsuit by CBF and seven other plaintiffs, who claimed that the EPA failed to comply with the federal Clean Water Act by not taking adequate measures to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay. The settlement identifies several actions required of the EPA, including establishing the Bay total maximum daily load (or TMDL), developing effective implementation, expanding review of discharge permits, setting new regulations for concentrated animal feeding operations and for urban and suburban stormwater, and establishing a publicly accessible system for monitoring progress toward restoration goals.  News source: EPA reaches settlement in Foundation lawsuit, U.S. EPA News Release, 5/11/10. Environment News Service, 5/12/10. More information: The other plaintiffs were former Maryland State Senator Bernie Fowler, former Maryland Governor Harry Hughes, former Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Tayloe Murphy, former District of Columbia Mayor Anthony Williams, the Maryland Saltwater Sportfisherman's Association, Inc., the Maryland Watermen's Association, and the Virginia State Waterman's Association. CBF information about the lawsuit and settlement are at http://www.cbf.org/Page.aspx?pid=1840. The settlement text—27 pages—is available at http://www.cbf.org/Document.Doc?id=512. For a sample of the many news accounts of the settlement, see “Bay foundation settles suit against EPA,” Virginian-Pilot, 5/12/10; “EPA legally bound to clean Chesapeake Bay under deal,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/12/10; or Chesapeake Bay Case Settled With Nation's Largest Water Cleanup Plan.
  • In another Bay restoration item: On May 12 the Obama administration released the final version of its “Strategy for Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.” The strategy is a result of the President’s May 2009 Executive Order calling for an increased federal role in restoration of the Bay. The strategy details actions to be taken by the EPA and by the federal departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Interior, and Transportation to achieve five main goals: restoring clean water, restoring natural habitats, sustaining fish and wildlife, conserving land, and increasing public access.  News source: New Federal Strategy Will Restore Clean Water, Conserve Land, Rebuild Oysters in Chesapeake Bay Region, Chesapeake Bay Program News Release, 5/12/10. Key aspects of the final strategy, as stated by the Chesapeake Bay Program’s news release, are as follows: “To restore clean water, the EPA will implement the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL)…; expand regulation of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and stormwater runoff from cities, towns and suburbs; and increase enforcement activities and funding for state regulatory programs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will provide farmers and forest owners throughout the Bay watershed with the resources to prevent soil erosion and keep nutrients out of local waterways; target federal funding to the places where it will have the greatest impact on reducing water pollution; ensure that agricultural producers’ conservation efforts are accurately reported; and lead a federal initiative to develop a watershed-wide environmental services market that would allow producers to generate tradable water quality credits in return for implementing conservation practices….To protect priority lands, the Department of the Interior will launch a collaborative Chesapeake Treasured Landscape Initiative; expand land conservation by coordinating federal funding and providing community assistance; and develop a plan for increasing public access to the Bay and its rivers.” The text of the strategy and a 12-page executive summary are available online at http://executiveorder.chesapeakebay.net
  • And in our last news item this week: The Atlantic tropical storm season begins June 1 and runs until November 30. Tropical storms threaten coastal areas, of course, but inland flooding typically is the most deadly aspect of tropical storms. Governor McDonnell has designated May 23rd-29th as Hurricane and Flooding Preparedness Week to emphasize the importance of emergency preparation. For families and individuals, that preparation should include three main things: having an emergency plan; preparing an emergency kit with at least a three-day supply of bottled water and non-perishable food; and staying informed, including having a battery-powered or hand-crank powered radio in case of power outages. To help Virginians get supplies for hurricane season, the Commonwealth’s Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday runs May 25-31, during which no sales tax will be charged on certain emergency-preparation items. So here’s the main message again: Make a plan, get a kit, and stay informed!  News Source: Governor McDonnell Urges Virginians to Get Ready for Hurricane Season, and Hurricane and Flooding Preparedness Week proclamation, Virginia Governor’s Office, 5/17/10. More information: Virginia Department of Emergency Services’ hurricane-preparedness Web site: http://www.readyvirginia.gov/stayinformed/hurricanes.cfm; and National Hurricane Center’s Web site for Hurricane Preparedness Week: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/HAW2/english/intro.shtml.  

WATER SOUNDS AND MUSIC  

This week we featured a new mystery sound: The Atlantic Croaker

Croakers, found in Atlantic and Gulf Coastal waters, are in the Drum family of fishes, which includes several species able to make sounds. In fact, hundreds of fish species make sounds, either to attract mates, show aggression, or for other as-yet-unknown reasons. Thanks to Rodney Rountree of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst for permission to use this recording from his “Fish and Other Underwater Sounds” Web siteInformation on Atlantic Croakers is available from the Chesapeake Bay Program’s “Bay Field Guide,” online at http://www.chesapeakebay.net/bfg_atlantic_croaker.aspx?menuitem=14386, and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Web site at http://www.asmfc.org. More information on fish sounds is available from the Rodney Rountree’s fish ecology Web http://www.fishecology.org/index.htm; for the sounds specifically, visit http://www.fishecology.org/soniferous/justsounds.htm. The original source of many of the fish sounds at Dr. Rountree’s Web site is a file of fish sounds created by Marie Fish and William Mowbray as a companion to their book Sounds of Western North Atlantic Fishes: A Reference File of Biological Underwater Sounds, Johns Hopkins Press, 1970. For other fish sounds, visit the Cornell University MacCauley Library’s online archive of bird, amphibian, fish, and other sounds: http://macaulaylibrary.org/index.do. For an introduction to sound-making by fish: What’s Making that Awful Racket? Surprisingly, It May Be Fish, New York Times, 4/8/08.]

 
UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS

First, in government policy and regulatory meetings occurring between May 26 and June 2:
  • On May 26 in Richmond, the State Water Control Board holds a public hearing on the general discharge permit regulation for coin-operated laundries. For more information, phone George Cosby at (804) 698-4067.  The regulation is 9 VAC 25-810. The proposed amendments were published in the Virginia Register on April 26, and the public comment period ends June 25. More information and relevant documents are at http://www.townhall.state.va.us/L/viewaction.cfm?actionid=2996&display=stages.
  • On June 2, the Virginia Roanoke River Basin Advisory Committee meets in Charlotte Court House. For more information, phone Tammy Stephenson at (540) 562-6828.
One upcoming meeting about Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, for impaired waters:
  • May 26, in Emporia, on the TMDL study for portions of Fontaine Creek in Brunswick and Greensville counties. For more information, phone Margaret Smigo at (804) 527-5124.
Finally, in educational or recreational events:
  • “Nobody’s waterproof, so always wear your life jacket!” That’s the key message of National Safe Boating Week, which started May 22 and continues through May 28. The event is organized by the National Safe Boating Council, headquartered in Prince William County, Virginia. For more information, phone (703) 361-4294.
  • And last, the Potomac River Swim for the Environment starts at 8 a.m. on June 5, when swimmers will dive into the Potomac at Hull Neck in Northumberland County, Virginia, and swim 7 and 1/2 miles to Point Lookout State Park in Maryland. Participants are raising funds for the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin and for several non-profit environmental organizations. For more information, phone Cheryl Wagner at (202) 387-2361.
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

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 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.