From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio (Episode 41), for the week of November 8, 2010.
Click to Listen to Episode (Length: 00:08:13)
We begin with our monthly water status report:
- First, in precipitation: According to the Southeast Regional Climate Center, from October 6 to November 4 rainfall was 1-2 inches in parts of northwestern and southeastern Virginia; 2-3 inches in most of the southeast and in some northern and western areas; 3-4 inches in most central and far southwestern areas; and 4-5 inches in a few central Virginia areas. The historical statewide average October rainfall in Virginia is about 3.5 inches, according to the National Climatic Data Center.
- Second, in stream flow: According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s WaterWatch, streamflows averaged over the month of October were in the normal range at about 84 percent of stream gages in Virginia or just beyond the state border, below normal at about 8 percent of gages, and above normal at about 8 percent of gages.
- Third, our drought watch: The weekly National Drought Monitor on November 2 showed abnormally dry conditions or worse occurring in 43 percent of Virginia. Moderate drought was reported for about 8 percent of the state, in 11 western counties. And severe drought persisted in parts of Frederick County.
News sources: Precipitation: Southeast Regional Climate Center precipitation map, http://www.sercc.com/climateinfo/precip_maps; and National Climatic Data Center, Climatography of the United States No. 81, http://cdo.ncdc.noaa.gov/climatenormals/clim81/VAnorm.pdf. Streamflow: U.S. Geological Survey WaterWatch for Virginia, http://waterwatch.usgs.gov/?m=pa28d&r=va&w=mv01d%2Cmap. 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.
- According to the Lynchburg News & Advance, in mid-November officials from Lynchburg will meet with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (or DEQ) to discuss a September 24 overflow of about 270,000 gallons of sewage into the James River. Decomposition of the sewage, combined with low flows in the James at the time, resulted in depleted oxygen that killed an estimated 1,000 fish, and possibly many more, according to the DEQ. The overflow resulted from a clogged pump intake at one of the work sites for the multi-year and multi-million-dollar project to replace the City’s combined sewer system, where the storm sewer system is connected to the sanitary sewer system; that combined system results in frequent overflows. Corrective actions taken since the September 24 incident include installation of larger pumps, more frequent maintenance, and better pump-flow alarm systems. The City or the construction contractor may still face a state fine, however, depending on the DEQ’s investigation of the incident. News sources: City correcting issues that led to sewage spill in river , Lynchburg News & Advance, 11/3/10; and City sewer overflow blamed for James River fish kill, Lynchburg News & Advance, 9/28/10.
- In the next item: In the November 2 election, 64 percent of voters in James City County turned down a bond referendum that would have permitted the county to borrow $30 million to build stormwater system infrastructure and to restore streams. According to the Daily Press, the county has 64 priority stormwater projects on a list developed by local officials and citizens. In 2008, the county eliminated a stormwater utility fee that raised over $2 million annually. News sources: James City County residents vote down stormwater bond, Daily Press, 11/2/10; and Supervisors at odds over stormwater bond vote, Daily Press, 11/3/10.
- And in our last news item this week: According to the Virginian-Pilot, one year after work started to remove creosote-contaminated sediments from the Elizabeth River near Money Point in Chesapeake, scientists have found at least 17 fish species living in areas where previously fish numbers were low and fish-cancer rates were high. For many years, that part of the river was polluted by materials from wood-treatment operations. Work began in June 2009 to remove the contaminated sediments and plant wetland plants along the shore. Research is continuing to determine if fish-cancer rates are decreasing, and if Elizabeth River fish have developed a genetic response—seen in fish in a restored area in Washington State—to tolerate chemical contamination. News source: Once-toxic stretch of Elizabeth River teeming again, Virginian-Pilot, 10/12/10; and Virginian-Pilot, 7/2/09.
This week we feature an instrumental tune about one of Virginia’s most well-known waterfalls: “Crabtree Falls,” by Timothy Seaman, on the 2002 CD “Sycamore Rapids,” from Pine Wind Music. Crabtree Falls, in Nelson County, is a series of large and small cascades over which water falls about 1200 feet on its way to the South Fork Tye River. This is reported to be the longest drop of any waterfall east of the Mississippi River. Fans of the 1970s television show “The Waltons”—created by Nelson County native Earl Hamner— may remember hearing that fictional family talk of Sunday outings to the popular and remarkable Crabtree Falls. Information on Crabtree Falls was taken from the “Visit Nelson County” Web site at http://nelsoncounty.com/visit/crabtreefalls/. Information on Earl Hamner and “The Waltons” was taken from http://www.earlhamner.com/.
UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS
First, in government policy and regulatory meetings occurring between November 11-November 17.
- On November 16, the Virginia Gas and Oil Board meets in Lebanon. For more information, phone David Asbury at (276)415-9700.
- Also on November 16, the State Water Control Board holds a public hearing in Richmond on a proposed general permit for discharges resulting from the application of pesticides to surface waters. For more information, phone William Norris at (804) 698-4022. The proposed action establishes a general permit for discharges from the following pesticide applications for control of mosquitoes and other flying inesct pests, aquatic weeds and algae, aquatic animal pests, and forest canopy pests. The public comment period ends on December 27, 2010. More information and relevant documents are at http://www.townhall.state.va.us/L/viewaction.cfm?actionid=3261&display=stages.
- November 16, in Glen Allen, on the TMDL implementation plan for the James River and several tributaries in Chesterfield, Henrico, and Powhatan counties and the City of Richmond. For more information, phone Margaret Smigo at (804) 527-5124.
- Also on November 16, in Bealton, on the TMDL implementation plan for Browns Run, Craig Run, and Marsh Run, all in Fauquier County. For more information, phone Bob Slusser at (540) 351-1590.
- Throughout November on weekends, Mason Neck State Park in Fairfax County repeats three hiking and bird-watching programs: Bird Watching 101, Birding by the Bay, and Majestic Eagles. Each program is an hour-long walk to view the various birds found at this peninsula-based park, located between Pohick Bay, Belmont Bay, and the Potomac River. For more information, phone (703) 339-2384.
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. 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 Virginia Water Resources Research Center, Virginia Tech, or our broadcasting stations.
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.