Monday, February 22, 2010

Virginia Water Radio 5: Week of 2-22-2010

Welcome to Virginia Water Radio (Episode 5) for the week of February 22, 2010. This week's show is hosted by, Alan Raflo, research associate at the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, located at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Our show presents news and notices that relate to Virginia’s waters, from the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean.

Audio archived 1/9/12.  Contact Virginia Water Radio for access.


NEWS
  • On February 16th, Governor McDonnell’s office announced that the federal government has approved disaster assistance for Virginia’s recovery from the December 2009 snowstorm. The assistance will help cover costs of infrastructure damage, debris removal, and related emergency services in 31 counties and nine cities, and for snow removal in 24 counties and 8 cities. Other localities could be added later. Meanwhile, localities are assessing damage and costs from the two February 2010 snowstorms; the assessments will be submitted to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management for evaluation of whether to seek federal assistance.
  • Also on February 16, Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli filed a petition with the U.S. EPA asking the agency to reconsider its December 2009 finding that six greenhouse gases endanger human health by contributing to climate change. The finding is a key step in the process of regulating the gases under the federal Clean Air Act. Virginia also filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, asking that court to review the EPA finding. According to a February 17 article in the New York Times, the states of Texas and Alabama as well as several organizations have filed similar petitions, while 16 other states are expected to support EPA’s finding.
  • On February 12th, Governor McDonnell’s office announced that $4.76 million in Abandoned Mine Land funding has been granted to Buchanan and Wise counties for two public-water supply projects. One project will provide water to the Wise County community of Dunbar where 48 are currently being served by a well that is impacted by past mining activities. The Buchanan County project will construct the second of five phases of a water-line extension to 222 households in the community of Hurley.
  • Conditional-use permits and rezoning requests for Old Dominion Electric Cooperative’s (ODEC) proposed coal-fired power plant in southeastern Virginia were approved on February 1 by the Dendron Town Council and on February 4 by the Surry County Board of Supervisors and the Sussex County Board of Supervisors. ODEC has purchased options both for a 1,600-acre site in Dendron and Surry County, and for a 1,200-acre site in Sussex County. ODEC now has to seek an estimated 50 state and federal permits for the proposed plant.
  • And in our last news item this week: The Williamsburg Yorktown Daily reported that on February 11 the Navy released test results and a statement asserting that polychlorinated biphenyls (or PCBs) from construction debris dumped years ago in an abandoned swimming pool at Camp Peary Naval Reservation in York County “do not pose an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment.” After removal of the debris from the site in 2008 and 2009, PCB’s were discovered in a drainage way leading to Waller Mill Reservoir, Williamsburg’s main water supply. The results released on February 11—based on tests of fish sampled from the reservoir between April and August 2009—are part of a draft report that will be reviewed by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

WATER SOUNDS AND MUSIC

This week we featured a Virginia song about a mountain, a river, a cave, and a silver mine near Meadows of Dan in Patrick County, Virginia: “The Pinnacle Mountain Silver Mine,” sung in 1980 by Helen Cockram on the CD, “Native Virginia Ballads and Songs,” originally from the Blue Ridge Institute at Ferrum College and reissued by Global Village Music. According to a Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy Web page on silver, that mineral was produced in Virginia between 1885 and 1945, mostly as a by-product of copper, lead, gold, and zinc mining.


UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS

First, in government policy and regulatory meetings:
  • On March 1, the Education, Planning, and Outreach Committee of the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries will meet in Richmond. And on March 2, the Board’s Nominating Committee will meet, also in Richmond. For more information about either meeting, phone Beth Drewery at (804) 367-9149.
Upcoming meetings about Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, for impaired waters include the following:
  • On February 25, 10:00-11:30 a.m., is a U.S. EPA online meeting (or Webinar) on the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. For more information, visit the Bay TMDL Web site at www.epa.gov/chesapeakebaytmdl/.
  • Two public meetings will be held on March 2, in West Point, on the TMDL for the Lower Mattaponi, Lower Pamunkey, and Upper York rivers in King and Queen, King William, and New Kent counties. For more information, phone Margaret Smigo at (804)-527-5124.
  • And two public meetings will be held March 3, in Hopewell, on the TMDL for the Blackwater River, Blackwater Swamp, and several tributaries in Prince George, Dinwiddie, Surry, and Sussex counties and the City of Petersburg. The contact for this meeting is also Margaret Smigo, at (804) 527-5124.
Next, in upcoming educational events:
  • On March 1st and 2nd in Charlottesville, the Virginia Water Environment Association will hold an Industrial Water and Pretreatment Seminar. For more information, phone Linda Respess at (804) 541-2214, ext. 246.
  • And on March 6, at the University of Richmond, the Virginia Native Plant Society will hold a workshop called “At Water's Edge--Virginia's Wetland Habitats.” For more information, phone (540) 837-1600. 

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 www.vwrrc.vt.edu.

Show notes and production assistance has been provided by Patrick Fay. Technical assistance provided by Innovation Space.

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.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Virginia Water Radio 4: Week of 2-15-2010

Welcome to Virginia Water Radio (Episode 4) for the week of February 15, 2010. This week's show is hosted by Alan Raflo, research associate at the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, located at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Our show presents news and notices that relate to Virginia’s waters, from the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean.
Click to listen to episode

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 www.vwrrc.vt.edu.
  • The Fiscal Year 2011 federal budget submitted to Congress on February 1 by President Obama proposes a $200 million decrease—from about $3.5 billion to about $3.3 billion—in the Clean Water and Drinking Water Revolving Funds that provide money for states to make loans for wastewater-treatment and drinking water systems. The 2011 proposed level is still considerably higher, however, than the 2009 budget level of $1.5 billion. According to a White House fact sheet, the 2011 proposal would provide about $61 million in these funds to Virginia.
  • On February 9, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that a spill of at least several hundred gallons of diesel fuel on or about February 2 killed about 650 fish in a Henrico County stormwater-management pond and stream. A Virginia Department of Environmental Quality spokesperson characterized this as a “fairly good-sized fish kill.” The spill came from a fuel tank for emergency generators at the county’s public-safety building.
  • On February 3 the Nature Conservancy announced that it has purchased, and placed under a conservation easement, 13,350 acres in the Dragon Run and Mattaponi River watersheds in Essex, King and Queen, and Middlesex counties. The conservation easement restricts development and other activities. This is the largest conservation-easement transaction to date in Virginia. Dragon Run watershed is a swampy, biologically rich area flowing into the Piankatank River. The Mattaponi River joins the Pamunkey River at West Point to form the York River.
  • The impacts of energy generation on water resources is a common theme for the Southern Environmental Law Center’s inclusion of three Virginia locations on the Center’s annual list of the 10 most “endangered” environments in the U.S. South. Released on February 1, the Center’s list included the Chesapeake Bay, the Roanoke River basin, and the southern Appalachian Mountains. For all three areas, the threats asserted by report included emissions from power plants or the potential impacts of mining for energy resources. The Southern Environmental Law Center is headquartered in Charlottesville.
  • On January 26, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission approved a proposal to place in the James River the first artificial reef for Atlantic Sturgeon. According to the January 27th Virginian-Pilot, the 300 ft. x 70 ft. rock structure is to be placed in February—prior to the fish’s spring spawning season—in the James in Chesterfield County. A $50,000 federal grant is funding the project. The Atlantic Sturgeon once was common in Virginia waters, but its numbers have decreased because of water pollution, dams, ship strikes, and other causes. In September 2009, the Natural Resources Defense Council filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking to have the species placed on the federal Endangered Species Act. 

WATER SOUNDS AND MUSIC

First, a correction from last week. I incorrectly gave the title of the song as “Cyclone of Rye County.” But “Cyclone of Rye Cove” is the correct name of the 1929 song by A.P. Carter about that weather tragedy in Scott County, Virginia.

This week we feature another mystery water-related sound: the call of a Wood Frog.

Wood Frogs gather near small ponds or pools to breed for only a short time in early spring, so you have to be in the right place at the right time to hear their mating call. Thanks to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and Lang Elliott of NatureSound Studio for permission to use this recording from the 2008 CD, “The Calls of Virginia Frogs and Toads.”


UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS

First, in government policy and regulatory meetings:
  • On February 19 in Big Stone Gap, the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy will hold a public-comment meeting on the Fiscal Year 2010 Abandoned Mine Land Consolidated Grant Application. For more information, contact Roger L. Williams at (276) 523-8208.
  • The Virginia Marine Resources Commission meets February 23 in Newport News; for more information, phone (757) 247-2200. 
  • Here are three upcoming meetings about Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, for impaired waters. 
    • February 22, in Virginia Beach, on the TMDL for Albemarle Canal, North Landing River, West Neck Creek, and several other waterways located in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. 
    • February 23, in Accomac, on the TMDL for Pettit Branch, located in Accomack County.
    • And also on February 23, in Chesapeake, on the TMDL for the Elizabeth River and several tributaries, located in the four Hampton Roads cities. For more information about these three TMDL meetings, phone Jennifer Howell at (757) 518-2111.
And in upcoming educational events:
  • The Virginia Water Center’s Water Seminar Series continues on Feb. 19, 9:30-10:30 a.m., in Fralin Auditorium at Virginia Tech, when Dr. Mauricio Herrera of the University of Costa Rica will present, “Water Management Schemes in Rural Costa Rica: An Interdisciplinary Approach and Perspectives for the Future.” For more information about this talk or others in the series, phone Patrick Fay at (540) 231-5624.
  • And on March 5-6th, in Norfolk, Old Dominion University and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science will hold the Virginia Regional Competition of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, known as the Blue Crab Bowl. Sixteen high school teams will compete to answer ocean-science questions. For more information, phone (804) 684-7735.

Show notes and production assistance has been provided by Patrick Fay. Technical assistance provided by Innovation Space. Editorial assistance provided by Danielle Guerin.

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.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Virginia Water Radio 3: Week of 2-8-2010

Welcome to Virginia Water Radio (Episode 3) for the week of February 8, 2010. This week's show is hosted by, Alan Raflo, research associate at the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, located at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Our show presents news and notices that relate to Virginia’s waters, from the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean.

[Audio archived 12/20-11.  Please contact Virginia Water Radio for access to archived file.]



NEWS

For this week’s news, we look at some water-related legislation in the 2010 Virginia General Assembly. The General Assembly convened January 13 and is scheduled to adjourn March 13. During the session, over 200 water-related bills are under consideration. Here’s an overview of several significant ones.

  • Two unsuccessful bills, HB 294 and SB 185, would have transferred regulatory authority over Virginia’s Menhaden fishery from the Virginia General Assembly to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission; both bills failed in committee. Another pair of Menhaden bills, HB 142 and SB47, would extend to 2014 the current Menhaden harvest quota; both have been passed in committee.
  • Two bills related to land-application of biosolids, or treated sewage sludge, were carried over to next year. HB 508 would require the State Water Control to set regulations for notifying people with certain health conditions when biosolids are to be land-applied in their area. And HB 1340 would authorize localities in karst regions (areas with caves, sinkholes, and other limestone features) to prohibit land application of biosolids within their boundaries. 
  • House Bill 787 would make it the state’s official policy to support exploration and development of natural gas AND oil 50 miles or more off Virginia’s shore. The state’s current policy refers only to natural gas. The House of Delegates passed this bill on February 3. 
  • Offshore wind energy is also under consideration. HB 389 and SB 577 would create the Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority to facilitate wind energy three miles or more off Virginia’s coast. SB 393 would create a similar body, the Offshore Wind Development Project Commission. All three bills were in committee as of early February. 
  • A Senate bill would prohibit issuance of a surface coal-mining permit if the mining operation would result in waste materials being disposed of in any stream. SB 564 was in committee as of early February. 
  • SB 569, passed by the Senate on January 28, would establish a State Water Supply Plan Advisory Committee to assist the Department of Environmental Quality in developing and implementing a state water resources plan. 
  • And one other Senate bill, SB 71, would require electric utilities to implement energy-efficiency programs to reduce retail electricity consumption by 0.3 percent in 2011, increasing to a 12.2-percent reduction in 2022. Utilities would be allowed to adjust rates to recover the costs of energy-efficiency programs. This bill was in committee as of early February.

To learn more about these bills or any General Assembly legislation, contact your local Delegate or Senator. Or phone Virginia Water Radio at (540) 231-5463, to find out about other ways to follow legislation or to express your opinion.


WATER SOUNDS AND MUSIC

This week, we feature a well-known Virginia musical family performing a song about a weather tragedy: the Carter Family, performing “Cyclone of Rye County.” The Rye Cove Cyclone became Virginia’s deadliest tornado (at the time) when it hit the Rye Cove School in Scott County on May 2, 1929, killing 12 students and one teacher. A.P. Carter wrote this song later that year as a remembrance to the tragedy.

According to the National Weather Service, Virginia experiences about 15 to 20 tornadoes a year, mostly in July. To learn about tornado safety, or to register for the March 16th Statewide Tornado drill, contact the Virginia Department of Emergency Services, at (804) 897-6500 or online at www.VaEmergency.com.


UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS
First in government policy and regulatory meetings:

  • The Game and Inland Fisheries Board’s Wildlife and Boat Committee will meet on February 16 in Richmond. For more information, phone Beth Drewery at (804)367-9149.
  • The Department of Environmental Quality’s Advisory Committee on a General Permit for Wastewater Discharges under 1,000 Gallons per Day will meet on February 16 in Richmond. For more information, phone George Cosby at (804) 698-4067.
  • The Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Board’s Policy Committee will meet on February 16 in Richmond. For more information, phone (800) 243-7229.
And here are two meetings about Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, for impaired waters:
  • February 12, in Alexandria, on the TMDL for Cameron Run, Holmes Run, and Hunting Creek in several localities. For more information, phone Katie Conaway at (703) 583-3804. 
  • February 17, in Smithfield, on the TMDL for Lawnes Creek in Isle of Wight and Surry counties. For more information, phone Jennifer Howell at (757) 518-2111.
Educational events:
  • On February 13th and 14th, “Majestic Eagles” will be held at Mason Neck State Park in Fairfax County. Visitors can see Bald Eagles as they fly over the park and Belmont Bay. On the same days, the park also holds “Wild for Winter Waterfowl,” guiding visitors to see ducks, swans, and other migrating waterfowl. For more information on either event, call (703) 339-2385.
  • On February 18 at Virginia Tech, the U.S. EPA’s Richard Batiuk (Ba-TUK) will present Chesapeake Bay Restoration: Why is it Going to Work This Time? For more information, phone Patrick Fay at (540) 231-5624. 
  • On Feb. 17-19, in Richmond, the Virginia Water Well Association holds its Winter Conference and Trade Show. For more information, phone (540) 740-3329.


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 www.vwrrc.vt.edu.

Show notes and production assistance has been provided by Patrick Fay. Technical assistance provided by Innovation Space. Editorial assistance provided by Danielle Guerin.

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.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Virginia Water Radio 2: Week of 2-1-2010

Welcome to Virginia Water Radio (Episode 2) for the week of February 1, 2010. This week's show is hosted by, Alan Raflo, research associate at the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, located at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Our show presents news and notices that relate to Virginia’s waters, from the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean.

[Sound file archived 12-5-11; for access, contact Virginia Water Radio.]

NEWS 
  • Rainfall up to nearly 5 inches in some places between January 21-25 led to flooding in several Virginia river basins on January 25-26. Various news reports indicated that the high water—along with mudslides—closed many roads and school systems, stranded some motorists, required pumping in Scottsville to prevent flooding in that Albemarle County town, caused a one-day shutdown of the Pulaski County Service Authority’s water-treatment plant, and caused shellfishing areas in parts of the James and Rappahannock River to be closed.
  • According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch on January 27, the U.S. Interior Department has indicated that a sale of leases for oil and gas exploration off Virginia’s shore may be delayed until 2012 to allow more time for environmental studies. This followed the request in December 2009 by then Gov.-elect Robert McDonnell, in a letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, that the federal Minerals Management Service expedite its work towards the lease sale and ensure that the sale can take place in 2011.
  • The January 25th Daily Press in Newport News reported that the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will eliminate its annual testing of water bodies for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), at a savings of $365,000. This is part of DEQ’s efforts to cut $5 million from its budget. Since 1998, the department has monitored PCB levels in fish from 50 to 100 sites annually. PCBs formerly were used in a variety of industrial products. Congress banned production of PCBs in the 1970s, but the persistent chemicals remain in sediments and present a fish-contamination risk in many waterways in Virginia and nationwide.
  • Old Dominion Electric Cooperative continues to seek approvals necessary for its proposed coal-fired power plant in Surry County. Public hearings on the Cooperative’s rezoning request were schedule for February 1 before the Dendron Town Council and February 4 before the Surry County Board of Supervisors. The cooperative has said some 50 federal, state, and local permitting processes will be needed. According to a May 2009 article by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the proposed plant’s estimated cost is $4 to 6 billion; its capacity could be as much as 1,500 megawatts, making it Va.’s largest coal-fired power plant; and it would use water from the James River, requiring a new pipeline.
  • On January 11, U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced that agency plans to seek by 2013 new regulations that would place stricter controls on stormwater runoff from developed areas, and that would increase the number of farms that fall under runoff rules for confined animal feeding operations. (Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1/12/10)
  • On January 6, Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Terrence Ney ruled in favor of Fairfax County in its water-rate lawsuit against the City of Falls Church. Fairfax County sued over Falls Church’s practices of charging water rates that generate surplus revenue beyond expenses and of transferring that surplus to the City’s general fund for non-water purposes. Falls Church has asked the court to stay and reconsider the ruling, and a hearing on those motions was held on January 29.

WATER SOUNDS AND MUSIC

This week we featured one of the most well-known traditional Appalachian tunes: “Cripple Creek,” performed by Virginia native Wade Ward in 1962 on the Smithsonian Folkways album “Traditional Music from Grayson and Carroll Counties.” According to various Web sites, the origin of the tune is not known for sure, but many Virginia musicians believe the song was inspired by the Cripple Creek that flows through Wythe County and joins the New River near Austinville.


UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS

First, in government policy and regulatory meetings:
  • The 2010 Virginia General Assembly is in session until March 13. Every year the General Assembly considers many bills related to water. The Virginia Water Center has some services to help you follow water-related legislation. To find out more, call Virginia Water Radio at 540-231-5463.
Upcoming meetings about Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, for impaired waters include the following:
  • On Feb. 8 in Suffolk, for shellfish waters in the lower Nansemond River and its tributaries. For more information, contact Jennifer Howell at (757) 518-2111.
  • On Feb. 12 in Alexandria, for Cameron Run, Holmes Run, and Hunting Creek. For more information, contact Katie Conaway at (703) 583-3804.
And in upcoming educational events:
  • The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Grasses for the Masses continue through February 20 in several locations in the Bay watershed. The workshops show how to grow aquatic plants to help restore Bay habitat. For more information, contact the Bay Foundation’s Richmond office in Richmond at (804) 780-1392. 
  • On February 11 at Belle Island State Park in Lancaster County, a biologist with the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge will present “Invasive Plants and What Homeowners Can Do.” For more information, phone (804) 462-5030.




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 www.vwrrc.vt.edu.

Show notes and production assistance has been provided by Patrick Fay. Technical assistance provided by Innovation Space. Editorial assistance provided by Danielle Guerin.

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.