Monday, December 20, 2010

Virginia Water Radio 47: Week of Dec. 20, 2010

From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio (Episode 47), for the week of December 20, 2010.

Sound file archived 10/17/2011.  For a copy, please contact Virginia Water Radio.

  • On December 2, the U.S. EPA announced a proposed settlement with Beazer Homes USA, Inc., a national residential homebuilder headquartered in Delaware, of alleged Clean Water Act violations from stormwater runoff at construction sites in 21 states. The areas include 8 sites in Virginia. The Virginia sites involved are Brambelton, Lansdowne, and Village Green in Loudoun County; Market Center and New Bristow in Prince William County; Fawn Lake and Somerset Farms in Spotsylvania County; and Austins Landing in Stafford County. The proposed settlement—which is subject to a 30-day public-comment period and U.S. District Court review—includes a $925,000 civil penalty and implementation of a company-wide stormwater program to improve compliance. The United States would receive about $731,000 of the civil penalty, with the remainder going to seven states, including Virginia, which would receive $10,193. The EPA estimates that the settlement would result in a nationwide reduction of over 304 million pounds of sediment in stormwater. “Beazer Homes USA, Inc., Settlement,” U.S. EPA,, 12/2/10; and EPA Fines Major Home Building Firm $925,000 For Storm Water Violations, Bay Daily, 12/2/10.
  • Public meetings were held December 13 to 15 in Danville by the National Academy of Sciences committee conducting a one-year study to assess the environmental, health, and safety consequences of a proposal to lift Virginia’s ban on uranium mining. The study by the National Academy’s Board on Earth Sciences and Resources is one of several being done in response to the proposal by Virginia Uranium, Inc., to mine a 3000-acre area in Pittsylvania County, about 25 miles north of Danville. The Pittsylvania County deposit is reported to be the largest uranium deposit in the United States. Following completion of the study by the National Academy and other organizations, the Virginia General Assembly is expected to decide whether or not to remove the Commonwealths’ moratorium on uranium mining. News source: Meetings begin on proposed Va. uranium mining, Associated Press, as published in Staunton News-Leader, 12/14/10.
  • January 2011, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission will decide whether to open about 1000 acres of state-owned water bottom for 15 oyster-aquaculture zones. The areas would be around Tangier Island, in Mobjack Bay, and in the lower Rappahannock River. In these areas, five-acre sections would be available first come-first served for a $100 application fee, with waiving of annual rent and normal surveying and title fees, which can collectively be up to $1000. Each acre is expected to accommodate 250 oyster cages in which baby oysters are placed for a 2-3 year growth period. The Commission, which is creating the zones following legislation in the 2010 Virginia General Assembly, intends for the zones to provide economic opportunities for commercial watermen and also attract individuals interested in a smaller-scale economic return or in supporting oysters’ water-filtering and other ecological functions. The Commission will hold a public hearing and a vote on the plan at its January 25th meeting in Newport News. News source: Will oyster-growing zones aid watermen?, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 12/9/10.

  • And in our last news item looks ahead to some tall, historic ships coming to Hampton Roads. The year 2012 marks the bicentennial of the War of 1812, the conflict between the young United States and Great Britain over freedom of the seas and maritime trade. One battle of the war was the 1814 British bombardment of Fort McHenry near Baltimore, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write the words that eventually became the “Star-Spangled Banner.” In June and July 2012, Operation Sail, or OpSail, will commemorate the War of 1812 and the Star-Spangled Banner with visits by tall ships and naval vessels from around the world to seven U.S. port cities, including Hampton Roads from June 7-12. OpSail, a non-profit organization created by Congress in 1961, has held similar observances of historical events in 1964, 1976, 1986, 1992, and 2000. Participation in OpSail is expected to generate significant tourism and economic activity for the stopover ports; the 2000 event, for example, generated about $58 million for the Hampton Roads area.  $1 Million Amendment to Back OpSail 2012 Will Leverage Estimated $80 Million Support from Private, Foundation, and Other Public Sector Entities, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 12/8/10. Information about the War of 1812 and the Star-Spangled Banner was taken from the National Park Service’s Web site for Fort McHenry, at More information about OpSail is available at its Web site, or by phone to (202) 638-1121. 

This week's music was included in an expanded Episode 503, 12-16-19.

This week we feature an instrumental tune in honor of a native trout stream in western Virginia: “Sugartree Branch” performed by Timothy Seaman on his 2002 CD, “Sycamore Rapids,” from Pine Wind Music. Sugartree Branch is an approximately two-mile long stream on the Blue Ridge in the St. Mary’s River Wilderness area of Augusta County. Sugartree Branch is one of several high-elevation, coldwater streams in Virginia that have received liming treatments in an attempt to counteract the impacts of acid precipitation on trout and other aquatic life. Information about Sugartree Branch was taken from The U.S. Forest Service brochure on the St. Mary’s Wilderness. Scientific information about Sugartree Branch and other trout streams in the St. Mary’s River watershed is available in the U.S. Forest Service’s 2002 report, Condition of Fish Populations and Habitat in the St. Mary’s River and Selected Tributaries Before and After Limestone Sand Treatment, available online at  

First, in Virginia government policy and regulatory meetings occurring between Dec. 23 and January 12.

  • On January 4, the Stormwater Management Program Regulations Advisory Panel meets in Richmond. For more information, phone David Dowling at (804) 786-2291. The Stormwater Management Regulations Advisory Panel is advising the Soil and Water Conservation Board in considering amendments to Virginia Stormwater Management Program Permit Regulations (4 VAC 50-60 in the Virginia Administrative Code.) More information and relevant documents about the proposed stormwater changes are available online at

  • On January 5, the Recycling Markets Development Council meets in Glen Allen. For more information, phone Steve Coe at (804) 698-4029.

  • Also on January 5, the Virginia Roanoke River Basin Advisory Committee meets in Danville. For more information, phone Tammy Stephenson at (540) 562-6828.

  • Again on January 5, the Board for Geology meets in Richmond. For more information, phone (804) 367-8595.

  • On January 10, the Education, Outreach, and Planning Committee of the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries meets in Richmond. For more information, phone Beth Drewery at (804) 367-9149.

  • On January 12, the Department of Health’s Sewage Handling and Disposal Appeal Review Board meets in Richmond. For more information, phone Donna Tiller at (804) 864-7470.
Now, here are two meetings about Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, for impaired waters:
  • January 6, in Charlottesville, on the TMDL study for aquatic-life impairments Schenk’s Branch, Meadow Creek, and Moore’s Creek, all in Charlottesville and in Albemarle County. For more information, phone Tara (TARE-a) Sieber at (540) 574-7870.

  • January 11, in Richmond, on the TMDL study for polychlorinated biphenyl- (or PCB-) impaired sections of the James River and several tributaries located from the Fall Line to Charles City County and Surry County. For more information, phone Margaret Smigo at (804) 527-5124.
Finally, in educational and recreational events:
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 Virginia Water Resources Research 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 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