Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Virginia Water Radio 23: Week of July 5, 2010

Welcome to Virginia Water Radio (Episode 23) for the week of July 5, 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 archived 4-4-16.

  • A reduction by an estimated 60 percent of stormwater runoff is expected to be one of the benefits of a major re-landscaping of the grounds at Virginia’s State Capitol. The stormwater-reduction features include rain gardens and porous paving material in walkways. Paid for by federal grants, the approximately $800,000 project is scheduled to begin in August and be completed in the fall.  News source: Virginia's State Capitol Goes Green, WVIR (Charlottesville) Television, 6/11/10.
  • On June 24, the Town of Culpeper dedicated a $27.7 million upgrade at its wastewater treatment plant. According to the Culpeper Star-Exponent, the two-year project increased the plant’s capacity by 33 percent and added two nutrient-removal tanks that will reduce the plant’s discharge of nitrogen and phosphorus from about 8-10 parts per million to 1-2 parts per million. Culpeper’s nutrient-removal project is one of hundreds occurring in Virginia and other Chesapeake Bay states as a result of requirements to reduce nutrients reaching Bay waters. Culpeper’s plant is one of the first dozen or so facilities in Virginia to have completed its improvements.  News source: Cleaner Wastewater - Culpeper Star-Exponent, 6/25/10.
  • Speaking of the Chesapeake Bay, two significant legal developments took place this past week. First, On June 30, the U.S. Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee approved the Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Act, sponsored by Sen. Benjamin Cardin of Maryland. The bill reauthorizes the federal Chesapeake Bay Program and addresses the federal and state roles in developing and enforcing requirements for restoring the Bay. Among other provisions, it would establish a regional nutrient-credit trading system by 2012, and authorize $1.5 billion in new funds for water pollution-prevention grants. According to the New York Times, the Senate committee passed an amendment that would remove authority for the U.S. EPA to write permits for non-point pollution sources, especially agriculture; and would limit EPA’s authority to change state plans for implementing the requirements of the Bay Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL, currently being developed.  News sources: Sen. Benjamin Cardin’s Office News Release, 6/30/10; and Md. Senator Strikes Deal With GOP to Move Chesapeake Cleanup Bill Through Committee, New York Times, 6/30/10. More information: The Cardin bill is S.1816. The companion House bill is H.R.3852, sponsored by Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland. For details on the two bills and their legislative status, please visit http://thomas.loc.gov and search by bill number.  
  • The second Bay legal development was on July 1, when the EPA announced draft annual allocations, or limits, for nitrogen and phosphorus reaching the Bay, as part of the agency’s development of the Bay TMDL. The proposed basin-wide annual allocations are 187.4 million pounds of nitrogen and 12.5 million pounds of phosphorus. These overall amounts are divided among the six Bay states and the District of Columbia, as well as among the major Bay tributary rivers. Virginia’s proposed annual allocations are 53.4 million pounds of nitrogen and 5.4 million pounds of phosphorus. The EPA expects to issue allocations for sediment in August. The agency plans to have a draft of the complete Bay TMDL in late September and a final version by the end of December.  News sources: EPA Announces Next Step Toward Establishing Rigorous Pollution Diet for Chesapeake Bay, U.S. EPA News Release, 7/1/10; and EPA Reaffirms December 2010 Deadline for Bay TMDL, U.S. EPA News Release, 6/18/10. More information about the allocations and the Bay TMDL overall is available online at http://www.epa.gov/chesapeakebaytmdl/. 
  •  And the last news item this week is our monthly water status report. First, in precipitation: According to the Southeast Regional Climate Center, between June 2 and July 1 precipitation was well above normal in part of far southwestern Virginia; normal to 1.5 inches below normal in other parts of the southwest as well as in parts of south-central and southeastern Virginia; and 1.5 to 3 inches below normal in other parts of the southeast as well as in most of the western and northern areas. Second, in stream flow: According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s WaterWatch, streamflows averaged over the month of June were normal at many gaging stations in the middle and lower James, Rappahannock, Roanoke, New, Holston, and Clinch basins; below-normal at many locations in the Chowan, Upper James, Shenandoah, Potomac, and York basins; and above-normal in the Big Sandy basin. And last, our drought watch: The weekly National Drought Monitor on June 23 showed abnormally dry conditions in over 78 percent of Virginia. Prior to June, Virginia had been drought-free for most of the time since October 2009.  Sources and additional information: Precipitation: Southeast Regional Climate Center precipitation map, http://www.sercc.com/climateinfo/precip_maps; see below for the map used this week. Streamflow: U.S. Geological Survey WaterWatch for Virginia, http://waterwatch.usgs.gov/?m=mv01d&r=va&w=pa28d%2Cmap; see map and color-code chart below. Drought: The National Drought Monitor map is at http://www.drought.unl.edu/dm/monitor.html; the Virginia archive table is at http://www.drought.unl.edu/dm/DM_tables.htm?VA

Streamflow averaged over June 2010, compared to historical records (see color code chart below).

This week we featured a new mystery sound: The Green Frog
Despite the common name, this frog sometimes looks more brown than green. Green Frogs are found throughout Virginia and the southeastern United States, inhabiting streams, ponds, and lakes. A Green Frog’s breeding call is the sound you just heard, but these animals also make a characteristic squeak when jumping away from perceived danger. 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 “Frog and Toad Calling Survey” Web site of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, at http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/frogsurvey/.


First, in government policy and regulatory meetings occurring between July 7-13.
  • On July 7, the Regulatory Advisory Panel on development of a permit for Small Renewable Offshore Wind Energy Projects meets in Richmond. For more information, phone Carol Wampler at (804) 698-4579.  The advisory panel is assisting the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality in the development of a permit regulation for small renewable offshore wind energy projects. Development of the regulation was mandated by the 2009 Virginia General Assembly. More information and relevant documents are at http://www.townhall.state.va.us/L/ViewMeeting.cfm?MeetingID=14775.
  • On July 8, the Coal Surface Mining Reclamation Fund Advisory Board meets in Big Stone Gap. For more information, phone Gavin Bledsoe at (276) 523-3212.  This board advises the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy. The July 8 meeting is to review and discuss the current status and administration of the Reclamation Fund.
Now, here are two upcoming events about Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, for impaired waters:
  • On July 8, in Cedar Bluff, is a public meeting on the TMDL for the Clinch River and three tributaries in Tazewell County. For more information, phone Shelley Williams at (276) 676-4845.  The three Clinch River tributaries included in this TMDL are Coal Creek, Middle Creek, and Plum Creek. The waterways have aquatic life and bacteria impairments.
  • Also on July 8, from 10 to 11:30 a.m., the U.S. EPA is holding another in its series of online seminars, or Webinars, on the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. The link to the Webinar is www.epa.gov/chesapeakebaytmdl. For more information, phone Tom Damm at (215) 814-5560. Registration for the EPA Webinar on the Bay TMDL is available at https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/918076986.
Finally, in upcoming educational and recreational events:
  • On July 11, the Watermen’s Museum in Yorktown is holding its Heritage Festival and Workboat Races. This is the museum’s annual salute to Chesapeake Bay working watermen. For more information, phone (757) 887-2641.
  • And from July 16 to 18, the Dan River Basin Association is organizing the Dan River Sojourn. The Sojourn features 22 miles of paddling along the Dan in North Carolina—just below the Virginia border—and special programs highlighting the basin. For more information, phone Wayne Kirkpatrick at (276) 694-4449.

    For more information about government policy and regulatory meetings, click here for the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall, where these meetings are listed by date. E-mail addresses for contact people are available there. For TMDL meetings, click here for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality TMDL Web site. Please note that TMDL meetings are also listed at the Town Hall site, but are included among all other meetings. In the educational and recreation events section, organizations, events, or both are hyperlinked whenever possible. Click on those links for more information. 
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.