- A new oyster report released by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in early July found that research suggests that oyster populations, especially in the southern Bay, may be developing resistance to diseases that have decimated oyster numbers in recent decades. For example, the annual average percentage of native oysters dying from the oyster disease MSX in Virginia’s York River decreased from 50 percent in 2000 to five percent currently, while occurrence of MSX in the lower James River decreased from about 80 percent in 1995 to about 24 percent in 2009. In Maryland’s Bay waters, oyster mortality from diseases decreased from 29 percent in the 1984-2004 period to 17 percent in the 2005-2009 period. Other key conclusions and assertions of the report are 1) that poaching, or illegal harvesting, is a common problem in Bay oyster sanctuaries; 2) oyster sanctuaries can provide significant economic return by enhancing reproduction of commercially valuable fish; 3) reconstructed reefs continue to be needed as oyster-attachment areas; 4) wa ter pollution is a significant obstacle to oyster recovery; and 5) oyster aquaculture offers greater potential for economic growth than does wild-oyster harvesting. News source: “On the Brink: Chesapeake’s Native Oysters—What it Will Take to Bring Them Back” (36 pages), available online at http://www.cbf.org/Page.aspx?pid=1940.
- Over the July 4th weekend, over 1,147 gallons of diesel fuel spilled from an Ammars, Inc., store in Bluefield, entered Beaver Creek, and eventually reached the Bluestone River, which flows across the state line into West Virginia. State agencies in Virginia and West Virginia were involved in efforts to contain the spill and in subsequent clean-up efforts, which are being conducted by consulting firm Marshall Miller. As of July 14, the extent of aquatic-life impacts were still being assessed. News Sources: Diesel spill tops 1,100 gallons - Bluefield (W. Va.) Daily Telegraph, 7/14/10, and Crews continue work to control diesel spill, Bluefield (W. Va.) Daily Telegraph, 7/7/10.
- As of the July 13 assessment by the National Drought Monitor, 86 percent of Virginia was rated as “abnormally dry,” and 37 percent of the state was rated as being in “moderate drought.” On July 14, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, or DEQ, issued a statewide drought watch. The DEQ’s news release announcing the watch said that, “Despite recent rain in portions of the Commonwealth, the potential exists for drought impacts to intensify if hot, dry conditions redevelop.” The state is recommending that localities, public water supplies, and self-supplied water users take the following steps: minimize non-essential water use; review or develop local water-conservation and drought-contingency plans, and take conservation or water-use restriction actions consistent with those plans; distribute water-conservation information to citizens; continue monitoring the condition of public waterworks and self-supplied water systems; and aggressively pursue leak-detection and leak-repair programs. News Sources: Virginia issues statewide drought watch, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality News Release, 7/14/10; and the U.S. Drought Monitor, http://drought.unl.edu/dm/monitor.html. More information from the Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force is available at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/waterresources/drought.php.
- And our last news item this week: In July, the Virginia Department of Transportation awarded a $424,000 grant to Mathews County for work to stabilize and protect its historic New Point Comfort island lighthouse. Since 1805, the lighthouse on the quarter-acre island has provided guidance to ships traveling Mobjack Bay, which separates the Middle Peninsula counties of Mathews and Gloucester. The new grant, coupled with a previous $149,000 grant and a 20-percent local match, will fund construction of a 12-foot high, 46-foot wide, and 300-foot long stone wall around the island. Construction is expected to begin in 2011. Meanwhile, a $10,000 donation by two descendants of Elzy Burroughs, the lighthouse’s original stonemason, has started a long-term fund for maintenance of the lighthouse. News source: “Grant to help Mathews fix lighthouse island,” Daily Press, 7/11/10.
This week we featured a new mystery sound: The rail clatter and warning horn of a train recorded from the Potomac River.
Many railroad lines developed along river courses, where cities and other commercial centers had originally located to take advantage of river-based transportation and commerce. Virginia examples include active railroad lines along parts of the Clinch, James, Roanoke, and Shenandoah rivers, as well as former lines now converted to recreational trails, such as the 57-mile long New River Trail State Park. For one example of the development of different transportation means along a river course, see “Scottsville Transportation” at the Web site of The Scottsville Museum, http://scottsvillemuseum.com/transportation/home.html. Information about the history of transportation along the Potomac River is available at the National Park Service’s Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Web site, at http://www.nps.gov/choh/index.htm. Information about New River Trail State Park is available at http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks/new.shtml.
UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS
First, in government policy and regulatory meetings occurring between July 21-27.
- On July 23, the regulatory advisory panel on proposed changes to Virginia’s Stormwater Management Regulations meets in Richmond. For more information, phone David Dowling at (804) 786-2291. The regulatory advisory panel on Stormwater Management Regulations is advising the Soil and Water Conservation Board in considering amendments to Parts 1, 2, 3, and 13 of the Virginia Stormwater Management Program Permit Regulations (4 VAC 50-60). The proposed regulations to address criteria for water quality and quantity, criteria and procedures for local stormwater-management programs, and the administration and schedule of fees. Documents and more information on the long process of considering these amendments are available online at http://www.townhall.state.va.us/L/viewchapter.cfm?chapterid=1145.
- On July 27, the Marine Resources Commission meets in Newport News. For more information, phone Jane McCroskey at (757) 247-2215.
- July 22, in Honaker, on the TMDL implementation plan for Lewis Creek in the Clinch River watershed in Russell County. For more information, phone Martha Chapman at (276) 676-5529.
- July 26, in Fairfax, on the TMDL study for Accotink Creek in the Potomac River watershed in Fairfax County and the City of Fairfax. For more information, phone Gregory Voigt at (215) 814-5737.
- On August 14, at Holiday Lake 4-H Center near Appomattox, Virginia Citizens for Water Quality is holding its annual summit. The theme this year is Volunteer Monitoring: The Next Generation. For more information, phone David Jennings at the Virginia Office of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, at (804) 775-0951.
- And on August 20 to 22 in Roanoke, the 8th International Conference on Recirculating Aquaculture takes place at the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center. For more information, phone (540) 553-1809.
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.
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.