Monday, September 6, 2010

Virginia Water Radio 32: Week of Sept. 6, 2010

From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio (Episode 32), for the week of September 6, 2010.

Sound file archived 11/14/11.  For a copy, please contact Virginia Water Radio.

  • On August 23, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality released for public comment the draft 2010 report on water quality in the Virginia’s streams, rivers, lakes, and estuaries, covering conditions in Virginia’s waters between 2003 and 2008. The federal Clean Water Act requires such a report every two years. The report lists the water bodies that do not meet state water-quality standards and, as a result, are considered “impaired” and will require a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) clean-up plan. Here are the counts of impaired waters: 12,103 miles of impaired streams, an increase from 10,543 miles in the 2008 report; 96,510 impaired acres in public lakes, up from 94,004 acres in 2008; 2,157 square miles of impairments in estuaries, down from 2,182 square miles in 2008. On the positive side, 430 water bodies have been removed from the impaired list because they now meet standards. News sources: 2010 report details status of water quality in Virginia, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality News Release, 8/23/10; Survey finds plenty of pollution in Virginia waters, Virginian-Pilot, 8/24/10; More state rivers, lakes impaired by pollution, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 8/24/10; and Virginia's polluted waters list gets longer, Newport News Daily Press, 8/24/10. More information: The DEQ’s draft water quality assessment report is available online at The DEQ is accepting public comment on the 2010 draft report through September 24. Comments should be sent to Darryl M. Glover, DEQ Office of Water Monitoring and Assessment, Box 1105, Richmond, Va. 23218, e-mail: For an introduction to water quality and a summary of the 2008 Virginia Water Quality Assessment Report, see the June 2008 Virginia Water Central, pp. 6-11, online at
  • In July, the Natural Resources Defense Council released its latest Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches, covering conditions in 2009 at 3,333 beaches nationwide that are monitored at least weekly. The report documented 18,682 days of beach closings or advisories in 2009, a decrease from the over 20,000 days at 3,601 monitored beaches in 2008. In Virginia, nine beaches—out of 47 monitored—collectively posted closings or advisories on 51 days in 2009, compared to 29 days in 2008 and 50 days in 2007. Three percent of Virginia’s monitoring samples did not meet bacterial standards, compared to the nationwide rate in 2009 of seven percent, ranking Virginia fourth best among states on this measurement. Three Virginia beaches, however—Fairview Beach in King George County, Hilton Beach in Newport News, and North Community Beach in Norfolk—had 10 percent or more of samples not meeting bacteria standards. The report rated Virginia Beach very highly on water quality, testing frequency, promptness of issuing advisories, and methods of notifying the public. News sources: NRDC report, online at; and Virginia Beach gets high ranking in national beach report, Virginian-Pilot, 7/29/10. More information: For a list of sources of information on water quality at beaches and other aquatic recreational areas, please see “Resources for Recreational Water Quality” in the June 2009 Virginia Water Central, p. 3; available online at
  • And the last news item this week is our monthly water status report. First, in precipitation: According to the Southeast Regional Climate Center, from August 3 to September 1 precipitation compared to historical averages was normal to 4 inches above normal in northern Virginia and most of the state west of the James River, but normal to 4 inches below normal in the rest of the state.

    Second, in stream flow: According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s WaterWatch, streamflows averaged over the month of August were in the normal range at about 69 percent of the 144 stream gages in Virginia or just beyond the state border. Monthly average flows were below normal at about 17 percent of these gages; much below normal at about 6 percent, above normal at about 6 percent, and much above normal at about 2 percent of the gages.

    And third, our drought watch: The weekly National Drought Monitor on August 31 showed abnormally dry conditions or worse occurring in over 65 percent of Virginia—essentially the eastern two-thirds of the state. Moderate drought was reported for 42 percent of Virginia, and severe drought in 31 percent of the state, which is part of an area of severe drought stretching from south-central Pennsylvania through southeastern Virginia. The August 31st Drought Monitor also reported that drought impacts in Virginia include poor pastureland conditions in over half of the state and the potential for the state’s lowest per-acre corn yield since 1993.

    News sources: Precipitation: Southeast Regional Climate Center precipitation map, Streamflow: U.S. Geological Survey WaterWatch for Virginia, Drought: The National Drought Monitor map is at; the Virginia archive table is at Additional information: The August 31, 2010, Drought Monitor has this comment: “According to USDA, Virginia led the Mid-Atlantic region with 55 percent of its pastureland rated very poor to poor on August 29, followed by West Virginia with 48 percent and Maryland with 35 percent. In addition, Virginia’s preliminary 2010 corn yield estimate of 65 bushels per acre, if realized, will be the state’s lowest since 1993 (60 bushels per acre).” 


This week we featured a new mystery sound : The Loon

The distinctive calls of loons are associated with lakes and other water bodies of the northern United States, where loons breed. But Virginia’s coastal areas provide winter homes for two loon species, the Common Loon and Red-Throated Loon. Unfortunately for Virginians, though, they do not make their calls in winter. Thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Sound Clips Web site for making this recording available. Information on loons was taken from A Guide to Field Identification of Birds of North America, by Chandler S. Robbins et al., St. Martin’s Press, 2001 edition; and from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ “Wildlife Information” Web site at


First, in government policy and regulatory meetings occurring between September 8-September 14.
  • On September 9, the regulatory advisory panel for development of a permit for small renewable solar energy projects meets in Richmond. For more information, phone Carol Wampler at (804) 698-4579. This advisory panel is helping the DEQ in development of a permit by rule for small solar energy projects, a regulatory action that the 2009 General Assembly (HB 2175/SB 1347) required for small renewable energy projects from various sources.
  • On September 13, in Chesapeake, the Department of Environmental Quality is holding a public hearing on an application by Dominion Generation to implement a groundwater corrective action plan at its coal-ash landfill in Chesapeake. For more information, phone Milton Johnston at (757) 518-2151. According to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for this meeting, Dominion Generation is seeking a permit modification for a groundwater corrective action plan that would identify “the methods to be used to remediate and monitor groundwater quality and sets standard procedures for the sampling, analysis, and statistical review of groundwater quality data collected during the remediation program.” The public comment period on the permit application August 13, 2010, to September 28, 2010.
  • On September 14, the Board for Waterworks and Wastewater Works Operators and Onsite Sewage System Professionals meets in Richmond. For more information, phone David Dick at (804) 367-8595.
Next, in regulatory action on Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, for impaired waters:
  • Through September 28, the Department of Environmental Quality’s is accepting public comments on 25 TMDL plans that have been approved by the U.S. EPA. For more information, phone David Lazarus at (804) 698-4299. The notice about the public-comment period is available online at That document includes the list of the 25 state waters at issue, along with a link to access the EPA-approved plans for the waters.
Finally, in educational and recreational events:
  • On September 16 to 17 at the Northern Virginia 4-H Center in Front Royal, Virginia Cooperative Extension and several other organizations are holding “Good Green, Bad Green: Invasive Plant Control for Habitat Restoration.” For more information, phone (540) 564-3080.

  • And on September 18 in Pearisburg, the Virginia Master Well Owner Network is holding a volunteer training for people who would like to help other understand, protect, and manage their private water supplies. For more information, phone Erin James Ling at (540) 231-9058.

    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