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- On November 29, Virginia submitted its revised Watershed Implementation Plan to meet the latest deadline in the U.S. EPA’s development of a Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL. Along with the five other Bay states and the District of Columbia, Virginia submitted a draft plan in early September, and a public comment period on these plans was held from September 24 to November 8. Virginia’s plan identifies strategies and actions to reduce the amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment reaching the Bay from 39 Virginia waterway segments, out of a total of 92 segments in the whole Bay watershed. The 133-page plan includes actions for four sectors that affect water quality: wastewater treatment plants, agriculture, urban stormwater, and septic systems. The EPA intends to publish a final Bay TMDL by December 31. News source: Commonwealth of Virginia Chesapeake Bay TMDL Phase I Watershed Implementation Plan, November 29, 2010, accessed online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/tmdl/chesapeakebay.html, 11/30/10. More information: U.S. EPA Chesapeake Bay TMDL Web site: http://www.epa.gov/chesapeakebaytmdl/; Virginia Water Central Grouper’s Chesapeake Bay TMDL site, for a compilation of other Bay TMDL references and recent news articles: www.delicious.com/araflo/ChesBayTMDL.
- On November 23, U.S. Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar unveiled an initiative intended to reduce the time needed for developing offshore wind-energy projects. According to an Interior Department news release, the so-called “Smart from the Start” initiative for Atlantic wind development includes identification within 60 days of priority wind-energy areas off the coasts of Virginia and several other Atlantic states. It also includes better coordination with state and local partners; and regulatory changes that are expected to save six to 12 months in the federal leasing process. The Interior Department said that the initiative is similar to one being used to facilitate solar-energy projects on public lands in the western United States. News sources: Feds plan to quicken wind power reviews, Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 11/24/10; and Salazar Launches ‘Smart from the Start’ Initiative to Speed Offshore Wind Energy Development off the Atlantic Coast, U.S. Interior Department News Release, 11/23/10.
- The Interior Department’s action on wind-energy permitting came one day after the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (or DEQ) published the Commonwealth’s final “permit by rule” for small wind-energy projects, that is, those not exceeding 100 megawatts of capacity, both on land and off-shore. According to the governor’s news release on the regulation, the new permit-by-rule, which becomes effective December 22, “establishes requirements for potential environmental impact analysis, mitigation plans, facility site planning, public participation, permit fees, inter-agency consultations, compliance and enforcement.” The new regulation was mandated by General Assembly legislation in 2009 that transferred authority to permit the construction and operation of small renewable energy projects from the State Corporation Commission to the DEQ. News source: Virginia Fast Tracks Wind Energy Project Approval Process–Department of Environmental Quality Approves Uniform Permit Regulation for Projects, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 11/16/10. More information: The DEQ Web site on wind energy is http://www.deq.virginia.gov/renewable_energy/wind.html. Virginia Regulatory Town Hall information on the regulation is online at http://www.townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewAction.cfm?actionid=3089. For the pertinent General Assembly legislation: HB 2175/SB 1347.
- And in our last news item this week: Since 1997, the Richmond Ballet’s “Minds in Motion” program has worked with fourth-grade students to help students develop focus, discipline, and self-awareness, while enhancing basic learning skills. This school year, the Chesapeake Bay is the theme for Minds in Motion programs in 16 schools in Charlottesville, Martinsville, and Roanoke. Students learn about plants and animals in the Bay and then develop dance performances that include movements based on Bay creatures. As the Ballet’s Web site description of the Charlottesville program says, “With over 3,600 species of plants and animals to dance about, [the students will] mix it up estuary style with salt and fresh water dancers!” The Spring 2011 Minds in Motion performances are March 17 and 18 in Roanoke, March 30 and 31 in Charlottesville, and April 14 and 15 in Martinsville. News sources: Kids Dance and Learn about the Chesapeake Bay, WVIR (Va.) Television, 11/12/10, and Richmond Ballet’s Minds in Motion Web site, http://www.richmondballet.com/danceeducation/mindsinmotion.aspx.
This week we feature another mystery sound: The Northern Puffer
A small fish ranging from Newfoundland to Florida, Northern Puffers are found along the bottom of shallow Chesapeake Bay waters from spring to fall and in deep ocean waters during the winter. Also referred to as “swellfish” or “blowfish,” the fish gets its names from its self-defense mechanism of inflating its body by taking water or air into a special pouch. The enlarged appearance can help to scare away predators. 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 Northern Puffer (Sphoeroides maculatus) was taken from the FishBase.org Web site, specifically at http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?ID=1181&AT=Northern+Puffer; from the Chesapeake Bay Program’s online “Bay Field Guide” at http://www.chesapeakebay.net/bfg_northern_puffer.aspx?menuitem=14403; and from Life in the Chesapeake Bay-3rd Edition, by Alice Jane Lippson and Robert L. Lippson (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006), p.273.
UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS
First, in government policy and regulatory meetings occurring between Dec. 2 and December 8.
- On December 3, the Waste Management Board meets in Richmond. For more information, phone Debra Miller at (804) 698-4206.
- On December 6, the Wildlife and Boat Committee of the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries meets in Richmond. For more information, phone Beth Drewery at (804) 367-9149.
- On December 7, the State Water Control Board holds a public hearing in Roanoke 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 insect 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.
- December 2, in Rockbridge Baths, on the TMDL implementation plan for bacteria-impaired sections of Hays Creek, Moffats Creek, Otts Creek, and Walker Creek in Augusta and Rockbridge counties. For more information, phone Nesha McRae at (540) 332-9238.
- On December 3 and 4 at the Roanoke Civic Center, the Association of Energy Conservation Professionals is holding the 11th Annual Green Living and Energy Expo. For more information, phone (540) 745-2838.
- On December 9 in Gainesville, Wetland Studies and Solutions is holding a seminar on the Chesapeake Bay TMDL and Stormwater Regulations for Engineers, Public Works, Elected Officials, and Land Owners. For more information, phone (703) 679-5600.
- And on December 14 at Samuels Public Library in Front Royal: the Potomac Watershed Partnership is holding the 7th Annual Watershed Information Exchange. This year's gathering focuses on urban forestry and the connection of trees to water resources management. For more information, phone Frank Rodgers at (304) 856-1385.
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.