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- On December 1, U.S. Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar announced a revised plan for leasing oil and gas exploration and development areas in the Outer Continental Shelf of the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and waters around Alaska. The new plan prevents until at least 2017 leasing of the Mid- and South Atlantic planning areas, including an area off of Virginia’s coast that—prior to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill—had been a priority area for exploration by 2011 or 2012. In response to the announcement, Gov. Robert McDonnell called the decision “irresponsible and short-sighted” and said that he’ll urge Virginia’s Congressional delegation to sponsor legislation counteracting the policy. Virginia’s U.S. senators Mark Warner and James Webb also criticized the decision. News reports on the new plan carried statements of opposition from oil industry groups, such as the American Petroleum Institute, and statements of support from environmental groups, such as the Southern Environmental Law Center, headquartered in Charlottesville. News sources: Salazar Announces Revised OCS Leasing Program – U.S. Interior Department News Release, 12/1/10; Statement of Governor Bob McDonnell on Obama Administration Decision to Block Offshore Energy Development Efforts in Virginia, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 12/1/10; Sen. Warner Disappointed in Coastal Drilling Decision, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner News Release, 12/1/10; Senator Webb: Don’t Shut Down Offshore Exploration, U.S. Sen. James Webb News Release, 12/2/10: Offshore-Drilling Decision Makes Waves, The Atlantic, 12/1/10; and Offshore Drilling Curbed Again, Wall Street Journal, 12/2/10.
- According to the Eastern Shore News, in mid-November NASA announced that it will halt for one year soil and groundwater clean-up operations at an old aviation fuel-tank farm at its Wallops Flight Facility in Accomack County. During the year, the agency will continue to monitor groundwater conditions, as natural processes continue to break down remaining contaminants. The tank farm operated from 1943 until 1959, during which time petroleum products contaminated soil and groundwater. NASA began groundwater and soil clean-up in 1997, and the agency reports that most of the groundwater within the site is now within drinking-water standards. During the operations, NASA has monitored drinking-water wells in the nearby Town of Chincoteague, and the agency will continue to do so until all groundwater on the Wallop’s site is within drinking-water standards. News source: Wallops fuel tank farm cleanup nears completion, Eastern Shore News, 11/13/10.
- In a recent study, North Carolina and Virginia researchers documented a case of ball valves in new plumbing leaching enough lead to raise lead levels in water from drinking fountains well above federal standards. The valves were rated as having less than the 8-percent average lead level allowed by federal law in new plumbing fixtures. But researchers Carol Elfland of the University of North Carolina, and Marc Edwards and Paolo Scardina of Virginia Tech, found that the valves had as much as 18 percent lead on surfaces actually in contact with water. The research paper, titled “Lead-contaminated water from brass plumbing devices in new buildings,” is in the November 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Water Works Association. News source: Study shows brass devices in plumbing systems can create serious lead-in-water problems, Virginia Tech News, 11/17/10.
- First, in precipitation. Here are National Weather Service preliminary rainfall totals for November at several Virginia locations: Bristol, 4.8 inches, which is 1.7 inches above normal; Roanoke, 3.5 inches, or 0.3 inches above normal; Danville, 1.5 inches, or 1.6 inches below normal; Richmond, 1.3 inches, or 1.8 inches below normal; Dulles Airport, 2.5 inches, or 0.8 inches below normal; and Norfolk, 0.4 inches, or 2.6 inches below normal.
- Second, in stream flow: According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s WaterWatch, streamflows averaged over the month of November were in the normal range at about 78 percent of stream gages in Virginia or just beyond the state border. Flows were below normal at about 19 percent of gages, and much below normal at about 3 percent of gages.
- And third, our drought watch: The weekly National Drought Monitor on November 30 showed abnormally dry conditions in 46 percent of Virginia. Moderate drought conditions covered about 3 percent of the state, including all of Frederick County and parts of six other western counties.
News sources: Precipitation: Climate pages of the following National Weather Service offices: Blacksburg; Morristown, Tenn. (covers far southwestern Virginia); Washington-Dulles; and Wakefield. 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.
This week we feature a traditional English tune performed to honor a great Virginia water tradition: bass-fishing: “Bass Fisherman’s Reel,” performed by Timothy Seaman on his 2004 CD, “Virginia Wildlife.” Mr. Seaman did the CD in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to celebrate Virginia’s natural resources and support non-game wildlife programs. “Bass Fisherman’s Reel” was done particularly to recognize Briery Creek Wildlife Management Area in Prince Edward County, home of Briery Creek Lake, which the department calls Virginia’s “premier trophy Largemouth Bass lake” and one of the most popular fishing spots in Virginia. For more information about the “Virginia Wildlife” CD, visit https://www3.dgif.virginia.gov/estore/proddetail.asp?prod=VW219. For information about Briery Creek or other Virginia wildlife management areas, visit http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wmas/ or phone your local Game and Inland Fisheries Department office.
UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS
First, in government policy and regulatory meetings occurring between Dec. 9 and December 15.
- On December 9, 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.
- Also on December 9, the State Water Control Board meets in Richmond. For more information, phone Cindy Berndt at (804) 698-4378.
- On December 13, the Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Board meets in Richmond. For more information, phone David Dowling at (804) 786-2291.
- December 9 in Lynchburg, on two TMDL studies for bacteria-impaired segments of the James River and seven tributaries in Amherst, Bedford, and Campbell counties and in the city of Lynchburg. For more information, phone Paula Nash at (434) 582-5120.
- On December 14, at the Samuels Public Library in Front Royal, the Potomac Watershed Partnership7th Annual Watershed Information Exchange. For more information, phone Frank Rodgers at (304) 856-1385.
- And on December 15, online from 12 noon-2 p.m., the Center for Watershed Protection is holding “Better Site Design Gets Better,” a fee-based Webcast on designs for development and re-development projects to reduce stormwater runoff. The registration deadline is December 10. For more information, phone (410) 461-8323.
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.