Monday, August 23, 2010

Virginia Water Radio 30: Week of August 23, 2010

Welcome to Virginia Water Radio (Episode 30) for the week of August 23, 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. Click to Listen to Episode (Length: 00:08:25)

  • The August 17 Lynchburg News & Advance reported that 26 Virginia localities have sent agricultural drought emergency requests to the governor’s office, and the director of communications for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said that many more requests are expected. After state agency review, the governor may submit a request to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for local disaster declarations. A local declaration makes farmers in the locality eligible to apply for low-interest federal loans.  News source: Campbell County joins requests for drought declaration, Lynchburg News & Advance, 8/17/10. Information on the disaster assistance-request process is available online at

  • On August 16, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality released for public comment a proposed settlement—with a $15,099 fine—for the March 26, 2010, derailment of a Chesapeake and Albemarle Railroad train over the Intracoastal Waterway in Chesapeake. The derailment, which left the locomotive dangling from a trestle for most of one day, led to a spill of about 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel into the waterway. The settlement requires approval by the State Water Control Board, which is expected to consider the matter in September.  News source: Railroad fined $15,099 for fuel spilled in crash, Virginian-Pilot, 8/18/10. The proposed settlement (“consent order”) is available online at; the public comment period ends September 16. All current consent orders available for public comment are available online at

  • In mid-August, several news stories reported blooms in Chesapeake Bay waters of the reddish-colored algae Cochlodinium, which forms the so-called “mahogany tide.” This summer’s hot temperatures, combined with heavy rainstorms that wash nutrients into Bay waters, have created good algal growth conditions in summer 2010. Blooms have been observed from Mathews County to Norfolk in the Chesapeake; in the Elizabeth, James, Nansemond, Poquoson, and York rivers; and in Mobjack Bay. According to Margaret Mulholland, an algae scientist at Old Dominion University, it’s not known if blooms are getting larger over the years.  News sources: Algae stains the Chesapeake Bay, Newport News Daily Press, 8/15/10; Algae blooms strike Hampton Roads waters - again, Virginian-Pilot, 8/12/10. Other media reports included Chesapeake Bay stained red with algae blooms, WTKR (Va.) Television, 8/16/10; Algae blooms color low Chesapeake Bay waters, WJZ (Md.) Television, 8/16/10; Blog: Algal blooms seen in the Chesapeake, Washington Post, 8/16/10; and Blog: Mahogany Tides Are Back in the Bay, Bay Daily, 8/13/10. The algae’s full scientific name is Cochlodinium polykrikoides. 

  • On August 19, the Newport News Daily Press reported that crabbers in Virginia and Maryland were reporting excellent harvests, reflecting the significantly increased Blue Crab populations seen in surveys this past winter. But a reduction in the number of crab-processing plants in the Hampton Roads areas over the past 20 years—as crab harvests declined—has made it hard for some Virginia crabbers to find a market for their 2010 harvests. According to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, the number of crab-processing facilities in Virginia decreased from 51 in 1990 to 26 in 2008, as crab harvests declined from 52 million pounds in 1990 to 17 million pounds in 2008.  News source: Chesapeake Bay blue crabs abundant, but not enough Hampton Roads processors, Newport News Daily Press, 8/19/10.
  • And our last news item updates a previously reported item on the state budget surplus. On August 19, Governor McDonnell announced that Virginia had a $404-million surplus for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010. Earlier, on July 14, the governor had announced that the Commonwealth expected a $220-million surplus based on tax collections; the additional $184 million resulted from unspent funds that had been allocated to state agencies. Based on the new figure, Virginia’s Water Quality Improvement fund will receive $36.4 million. The fund was established in 1997 to help pay for projects that reduce nutrient loads to the Chesapeake Bay.  News sources: Remarks of Governor Bob McDonnell to the Joint Meeting of the Senate Finance, House Appropriations and House Finance Committees , Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 8/19/10; and Governor McDonnell Announces Virginia Revenue Surplus in FY 2010, Virginia Governor’s News Release, 7/14/10. More information: For state law on the Water Quality Improvement Fund, see the Virginia Code Section 10.1-2117 through 2134. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s Web site on the fund is


The Water Sounds and Music portion of this episode was revised in Episode 77, 8-29-11.

This week we featured a new mystery sound: The Striped Cusk-eel

This small fish is common in Atlantic coastal waters from New York to Florida. The fish is believed to use the sounds during courtship and mating. 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 site.  Information on the Striped Cusk-eel is available at the Web site, specifically at Information on sound production by the Striped Cusk-eel is available in “Sounds Produced by the Striped Cusk-Eel Ophidion marginatum (Ophidiidae) during Courtship and Spawning, by David A. Mann, Jeanette Bowers-Altman and Rodney A. Rountree, Copeia, Vol. 1997, No. 3 (Aug. 1, 1997), pp. 610-612. More information on fish sounds is available from the Rodney Rountree’s fish ecology Web 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: 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.

First, in government policy and regulatory meetings occurring between August 25-August 31.
  • On August 26 in Richmond, the State Water Control Board is holding two public hearings: first, on a proposed amendment to the general permit for sewage discharges less than or equal to 1,000 gallons per day; and second, on a proposed amendment to the general discharge permit for seafood-processing facilities. For more information, phone George Cosby at (804) 698-4067.  The sewage discharge regulations being considered for amendment are in the Virginia Administrative Code at 9 VAC 25-110. More information and relevant documents are available online at The seafood-processing regulations being considered for amendment are in the Virginia Administrative Code at 9 VAC 25-115. More information and relevant documents are available online at
  • On August 30 in Clarksville, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation will give a presentation on a marina facility proposed for future development at Occoneechee State Park [LONG O] in Mecklenburg County. For more information, phone Danette Poole at (804) 786-1119.
  • Also on August 30, at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City Hotel in Arlington, the U.S. EPA is holding a public hearing on proposed new regulations for coal-combustion by-products, or coal ash. This is one of five public hearings being held nationwide during the 90-day public comment period, which ends September 21. For more information, phone Bonnie Robinson at (703) 308-8429.  The proposed regulations were published in Federal Register on June 21, 2010. The Web site for the proposed regulations, “Coal Combustion Residuals—Proposed Rule,” is
  • And on August 31 in Glen Allen, the newly created State Water Supply Plan Advisory Committee holds its first meeting. For more information, phone Scott Kudlas at (804) 698-4456.  The State Water Supply Plan Advisory Committee was established by the 2010 Virginia General Assembly to assist the Department of Environmental Quality in developing, revising, and implementing a state water resources plan. The bill creating the committee was SB 569; information about that bill is at the Virginia Legislative Information System Web site, at  
Finally, in upcoming educational and recreational events:
  • On September 2 in College Park, Maryland, the Chesapeake Research Consortium is holding the Chesapeake Bay Forecasting System Workshop. The workshop will show how the system can be used for local, short-term forecasts of water quality, harmful algal blooms, and other conditions. The workshop includes sessions on the Rappahannock and James rivers. For more information, phone (410) 798-1283.
  • On September 15 to 17 in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, the Potomac Headwaters Resource Conservation and Development Council is holding Growing Communities on Karst 2010—The Great Valley Water Resources Science Forum. Virginia presenters include Clarke County and the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission. Registration is due by September 1. For more information, phone Olga Adams at (304) 267-8953, ext. 5.
  • And last, here’s a chance for some education, recreation, AND public service: From September 1 through October 31 at water sites across the Commonwealth, Clean Virginia Waterways at Longwood University is organizing the Virginia Waterways Cleanup. For more information, phone (434) 395-2602. The Virginia Waterways Clean-up is part of the International Coastal Cleanup, organized by the Ocean Conservancy, online at

    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

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