Monday, May 31, 2010

Virginia Water Radio 19: Week of May 31, 2010

Welcome to Virginia Water Radio (Episode 19) for the week of May 31, 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 removed 8-27-12.  Please contact Virginia Water Radio for access to archived audio file.



NEWS
  • According to the Harrisonburg Daily News-Record, as of late April the Carrizo company of Houston, Texas, had met all requirements for the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy to issue the company a permit to drill a natural-gas exploration well in the Bergton area of Rockingham County. 

    Carrizo’s proposed exploratory well would be one of the first in Virginia seeking to tap the Marcellus shale, a 95,000 square-mile gas-bearing rock formation underlying parts of Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and a small part of Virginia. Interest in natural gas from the Marcellus shale has increased dramatically in the past two or three years, particularly following a 2008 study indicating that the formation might hold up to 50 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas. Production from the formation typically involves horizontal drilling and use of hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”), which injects a water/sand/chemical mixture to break up gas-bearing rock. Increased Marcellus drilling has generated substantial economic activity but has also led to concerns over water use, disposal of wastewater recovered from the drilling process, and potential groundwater impacts from the fracking mixture.

    If Carrizo receives the state permit, it would still need a special-use permit from Rockingham County. The county board of supervisors tabled the company’s special-use permit request on February 24 in order to gather more information about the exploratory drilling process and its potential environmental impacts.  News source: Proposed Gas Drilling In Bergton, Harrisonburg Daily News-Record, 4/28/10.
  • The potential impacts on climate from coal-fired power plant emissions are the focus of a lawsuit currently in Virginia’s courts. On May 25, the state Court of Appeals denied the claim by the Southern Environmental Law Center, representing several environmental groups, that carbon emissions should be regulated in the permit for Dominion Virginia Power’s coal-fired plant under construction in Wise County. The groups were appealing an August 2009 decision by the Richmond Circuit Court. As of late May, the plaintiffs had not yet decided whether to appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court. News source: Appeals court upholds hybrid energy center's air permit, Bristol Herald Courier, 5/26/10. Additional details: The appeal on the carbon emissions followed resolution in September 2009 of another aspect of the lawsuit, regarding mercury. While rejecting the carbon-emissions claim, the August 2009 Circuit Court ruling accepted the plaintiffs’ argument to invalidate the original permit because of its mercury provisions, which would have allowed the plant to emit mercury beyond the permit’s limits if the plant were not able to meet the limit. On September 2, 2009, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality issued a new air permit for the plant, removing the provision for exceeding the permit limit. The limit remains the same, at 4.45 pounds of mercury per year. Sources: “New permit for coal-fired power plant pleases both sides,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, 9/3/09; and “Dominion air permit violates Clean Air Act, Law Center says,” Bristol Herald Courier, 10/1/09. 


  • On May 27—in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico/BP oil spill that began on April 20—President Obama announced actions to stop several offshore oil and gas exploration projects. The actions include cancelling the sale of leases for oil and gas exploration in Lease Sale 220, an approximately 2.9-million-acre area about 50 miles off Virginia’s shore. The sale, which would have been the first in the Atlantic Ocean in 20 years, had been expected to occur in 2012, depending on military and environmental reviews. The next potential opportunity for lease sales to occur in the Atlantic will be as part of In a news release in response to the Virginia lease sale cancellation, Governor Robert McDonnell said that he understood the President’s decision and the need for delay and investigation, but that he does not believe that outright cancellation of the lease sale was the only alternative. The governor asserted that a two-year environmental impact statement already underway would have provided adequate information about whether or not to proceed with the actual leasing.  News sources: Salazar Calls for New Safety Measures for Offshore Oil and Gas Operations; Orders Six Month Moratorium on Deepwater Drilling, U.S. Dept. of Interior News Release, 5/27/10; Statement of Governor Bob McDonnell on President's Offshore Energy Decision, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 5/27/10; Report: Va. offshore drilling would interfere with military ops, Associated Press, 5/19/10. For more information: The federal Minerals Management Service’s Web site on the Lease Sale 220 area is http://www.mms.gov/offshore/220.htm

WATER SOUNDS AND MUSIC

This week we feature a traditional song about a prominent geographic feature in the farthest southwestern corner of Virginia: Cumberland Gap,” performed by the legendary folk musician Pete Seeger, on “American Favorite Ballads,” a 2009 release from Smithsonian Folkways Records. The song dates at least to the Civil War and has been widely recorded both with a variety of lyrics and as an instrumental. It refers to the gap in the Cumberland Mountains where Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee meet. For centuries, the gap provided passage through the mountains for native peoples, and after European settlement it was the opening through which the Wilderness Road took settlers from Virginia to the western territories.  The Library of Congress’s online catalog includes “Songs of the Civil War Era” (1972 recording), which includes “Cumberland Gap”; and the Smithsonian Folkways Web site includes “Ballads of the Civil War” (1954 recording) in its list of albums that include “Cumberland Gap.” As of 5/28/10, the Smithsonian Folkways Web site, http://www.folkways.si.edu/, listed 23 albums—recorded between 1954 and 2009—with recordings of “Cumberland Gap.” More information about Cumberland Gap is available from Web site for Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, at http://www.nps.gov/cuga/index.htm.]


UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS

First, in government policy and regulatory meetings occurring between June 2 and June 9.
  • On June 7, the State Water Control Board’s Advisory Committee on the general discharge permit for confined animal feeding operations meets in Glen Allen. For more information phone Betsy Bowles at (804) 698-4059. The regulation 9 VAC 25-191, Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (VPDES) General Permit for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. More information and relevant documents are at http://www.townhall.state.va.us/L/viewchapter.cfm?chapterid=2390.

  • On June 8, 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.

  • And also on June 8, the Regulatory Advisory Panel on development of a permit regulation for Small Renewable Offshore Wind Energy Projects meets in Richmond. For more information, phone Carol Wampler at (804) 698-4579.  The advisory panel is assisting the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality in the development of a permit regulation for small renewable offshore wind energy projects. Development of the regulation was mandated by the 2009 Virginia General Assembly. More information and relevant documents are at http://www.townhall.state.va.us/L/ViewMeeting.cfm?MeetingID=14656.
Here’s one upcoming event about Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, for impaired waters:
  • On June 7, 10:00 to 11:30 a.m., the U.S. EPA is holding its fourth online seminar, or Webinar, on the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. For more information, phone Tom Damm at (215) 814-5560.  Registration for the Chesapeake Bay TMDL Webinar and more information about the Bay TMDL are available at http://www.epa.gov/chesapeakebaytmdl.
Finally, in upcoming educational or recreational events:
  • On June 5, from 9 a.m. to noon, volunteers in waterways and on shorelines throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed will participate in the 22nd Annual Clean the Bay Day, organized by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. For more information on volunteering, phone the Virginia office of the Bay Foundation at (804) 648-4011.

  • Also on June 5, Staunton River Battlefield State Park in Charlotte County is holding the Sappony Indian River Festival. The day-long festival includes native dancing, art, and food; learning about birds of prey; an archaeology demonstration; and paddling on the Staunton River. For more information, phone (434) 454-4312.

  • And on June 9 in Richmond, the National Council for Public-Private Partnerships is holding a symposium entitled The Future of Water Partnerships in Virginia. For information, phone Krystine McGrath at (703) 469-2233.
For more information about government policy and regulatory meetings, click here for the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall, where these meetings are listed by date. TMDL meetings are also listed at the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality TMDL Web site


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 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 Water Center, Virginia Tech, or this station.

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. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Virginia Water Radio 18: Week of May 24, 2010

Welcome to Virginia Water Radio (Episode 18) for the week of May 24, 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


NEWS
  • In May, the environmental coordinator for the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission said the environmental clean-up of Fort Monroe in Hampton will cost the Defense Department an estimated $60-70 million. The Army will leave the 570-acre facility in 2011. Areas requiring clean-up include weapon ranges that extend into the Chesapeake Bay, underground storage tanks, an old landfill, and a former automotive repair area. After the Army leaves, the Commonwealth will own the facility and the Fort Monroe Federal Area Development Authority will manage it, possibly to offer education about the area’s military history and natural environment.  News source: Fort Monroe cleanup at $60-$70 million, (Newport News) Daily Press, 5/7/10.
  • In another water and military item: A Defense Department report released on May 18 said that oil and gas exploration activities in about 75 percent of the proposed Lease Sale 220 area would interfere with military operations, particularly those of the Norfolk Naval Base. Lease Sale 220 is a 4,500-square-mile area about 50 miles off Virginia’s shore. The Defense Department does not have a veto over proposed offshore drilling operations, but the U.S. Department of the Interior, which manages offshore lease sales, has never before approved drilling in an area to which Defense objected, according to the deputy under-secretary of defense for installations and environment.  News source: Report: Va. offshore drilling would interfere with military ops, Associated Press, as published in the Virginian-Pilot, 5/19/10.  
  • On May 10, the U.S. EPA and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (or CBF) signed a settlement of the January 2009 lawsuit by CBF and seven other plaintiffs, who claimed that the EPA failed to comply with the federal Clean Water Act by not taking adequate measures to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay. The settlement identifies several actions required of the EPA, including establishing the Bay total maximum daily load (or TMDL), developing effective implementation, expanding review of discharge permits, setting new regulations for concentrated animal feeding operations and for urban and suburban stormwater, and establishing a publicly accessible system for monitoring progress toward restoration goals.  News source: EPA reaches settlement in Foundation lawsuit, U.S. EPA News Release, 5/11/10. Environment News Service, 5/12/10. More information: The other plaintiffs were former Maryland State Senator Bernie Fowler, former Maryland Governor Harry Hughes, former Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Tayloe Murphy, former District of Columbia Mayor Anthony Williams, the Maryland Saltwater Sportfisherman's Association, Inc., the Maryland Watermen's Association, and the Virginia State Waterman's Association. CBF information about the lawsuit and settlement are at http://www.cbf.org/Page.aspx?pid=1840. The settlement text—27 pages—is available at http://www.cbf.org/Document.Doc?id=512. For a sample of the many news accounts of the settlement, see “Bay foundation settles suit against EPA,” Virginian-Pilot, 5/12/10; “EPA legally bound to clean Chesapeake Bay under deal,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/12/10; or Chesapeake Bay Case Settled With Nation's Largest Water Cleanup Plan.
  • In another Bay restoration item: On May 12 the Obama administration released the final version of its “Strategy for Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.” The strategy is a result of the President’s May 2009 Executive Order calling for an increased federal role in restoration of the Bay. The strategy details actions to be taken by the EPA and by the federal departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Interior, and Transportation to achieve five main goals: restoring clean water, restoring natural habitats, sustaining fish and wildlife, conserving land, and increasing public access.  News source: New Federal Strategy Will Restore Clean Water, Conserve Land, Rebuild Oysters in Chesapeake Bay Region, Chesapeake Bay Program News Release, 5/12/10. Key aspects of the final strategy, as stated by the Chesapeake Bay Program’s news release, are as follows: “To restore clean water, the EPA will implement the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL)…; expand regulation of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and stormwater runoff from cities, towns and suburbs; and increase enforcement activities and funding for state regulatory programs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will provide farmers and forest owners throughout the Bay watershed with the resources to prevent soil erosion and keep nutrients out of local waterways; target federal funding to the places where it will have the greatest impact on reducing water pollution; ensure that agricultural producers’ conservation efforts are accurately reported; and lead a federal initiative to develop a watershed-wide environmental services market that would allow producers to generate tradable water quality credits in return for implementing conservation practices….To protect priority lands, the Department of the Interior will launch a collaborative Chesapeake Treasured Landscape Initiative; expand land conservation by coordinating federal funding and providing community assistance; and develop a plan for increasing public access to the Bay and its rivers.” The text of the strategy and a 12-page executive summary are available online at http://executiveorder.chesapeakebay.net
  • And in our last news item this week: The Atlantic tropical storm season begins June 1 and runs until November 30. Tropical storms threaten coastal areas, of course, but inland flooding typically is the most deadly aspect of tropical storms. Governor McDonnell has designated May 23rd-29th as Hurricane and Flooding Preparedness Week to emphasize the importance of emergency preparation. For families and individuals, that preparation should include three main things: having an emergency plan; preparing an emergency kit with at least a three-day supply of bottled water and non-perishable food; and staying informed, including having a battery-powered or hand-crank powered radio in case of power outages. To help Virginians get supplies for hurricane season, the Commonwealth’s Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday runs May 25-31, during which no sales tax will be charged on certain emergency-preparation items. So here’s the main message again: Make a plan, get a kit, and stay informed!  News Source: Governor McDonnell Urges Virginians to Get Ready for Hurricane Season, and Hurricane and Flooding Preparedness Week proclamation, Virginia Governor’s Office, 5/17/10. More information: Virginia Department of Emergency Services’ hurricane-preparedness Web site: http://www.readyvirginia.gov/stayinformed/hurricanes.cfm; and National Hurricane Center’s Web site for Hurricane Preparedness Week: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/HAW2/english/intro.shtml.  

WATER SOUNDS AND MUSIC  

This week we featured a new mystery sound: The Atlantic Croaker

Croakers, found in Atlantic and Gulf Coastal waters, are in the Drum family of fishes, which includes several species able to make sounds. In fact, hundreds of fish species make sounds, either to attract mates, show aggression, or for other as-yet-unknown reasons. 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 siteInformation on Atlantic Croakers is available from the Chesapeake Bay Program’s “Bay Field Guide,” online at http://www.chesapeakebay.net/bfg_atlantic_croaker.aspx?menuitem=14386, and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Web site at http://www.asmfc.org. More information on fish sounds is available from the Rodney Rountree’s fish ecology Web http://www.fishecology.org/index.htm; for the sounds specifically, visit http://www.fishecology.org/soniferous/justsounds.htm. The original source of many of the fish sounds at Dr. Rountree’s Web site is a file of fish sounds created by Marie Fish and William Mowbray as a companion to their book Sounds of Western North Atlantic Fishes: A Reference File of Biological Underwater Sounds, Johns Hopkins Press, 1970. For other fish sounds, visit the Cornell University MacCauley Library’s online archive of bird, amphibian, fish, and other sounds: http://macaulaylibrary.org/index.do. For an introduction to sound-making by fish: What’s Making that Awful Racket? Surprisingly, It May Be Fish, New York Times, 4/8/08.]

 
UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS

First, in government policy and regulatory meetings occurring between May 26 and June 2:
  • On May 26 in Richmond, the State Water Control Board holds a public hearing on the general discharge permit regulation for coin-operated laundries. For more information, phone George Cosby at (804) 698-4067.  The regulation is 9 VAC 25-810. The proposed amendments were published in the Virginia Register on April 26, and the public comment period ends June 25. More information and relevant documents are at http://www.townhall.state.va.us/L/viewaction.cfm?actionid=2996&display=stages.
  • On June 2, the Virginia Roanoke River Basin Advisory Committee meets in Charlotte Court House. For more information, phone Tammy Stephenson at (540) 562-6828.
One upcoming meeting about Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, for impaired waters:
  • May 26, in Emporia, on the TMDL study for portions of Fontaine Creek in Brunswick and Greensville counties. For more information, phone Margaret Smigo at (804) 527-5124.
Finally, in educational or recreational events:
  • “Nobody’s waterproof, so always wear your life jacket!” That’s the key message of National Safe Boating Week, which started May 22 and continues through May 28. The event is organized by the National Safe Boating Council, headquartered in Prince William County, Virginia. For more information, phone (703) 361-4294.
  • And last, the Potomac River Swim for the Environment starts at 8 a.m. on June 5, when swimmers will dive into the Potomac at Hull Neck in Northumberland County, Virginia, and swim 7 and 1/2 miles to Point Lookout State Park in Maryland. Participants are raising funds for the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin and for several non-profit environmental organizations. For more information, phone Cheryl Wagner at (202) 387-2361.
For more information about government policy and regulatory meetings, click here for the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall, where these meetings are listed by date. TMDL meetings are also listed at the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality TMDL Web site

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 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 Water Center, Virginia Tech, or this station.

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. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Virginia Water Radio 17: Week of May 17, 2010

Welcome to Virginia Water Radio (Episode 17) for the week of May 17, 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 3/16/12; please contact Virginia Water Radio for access to the audio file.


NEWS
  • On May 4, the U.S. EPA announced proposed regulations for disposal of coal-combustion residuals, or coal ash. According to the EPA Web site on the proposed rule, the regulations would require liners and groundwater monitoring at new landfills that store coal ash. The proposed regulations would also address the structure of dams used to create coal ash storage impoundments, or lagoons, such as the one that broke near Kinston, Tennessee, in December 2008, leading to a large spill. EPA states that the proposed measures are intended to result in a transition from lagoons that store wet ash to landfills that store ash in dry form. The proposed regulations also call for public comment on two enforcement options: one would set up a system of required federal and state permits; the second would rely on lawsuits by citizens and states. News source: EPA Announces Plans to Regulate Coal Ash, U.S. EPA News Release, 5/4/10. More information: The EPA Web site on the proposed rule is http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/nonhaz/industrial/special/fossil/ccr-rule/index.htm.

  • Disposal and use of coal ash are significant issues in Virginia, tying together energy production, waste management, and water resources. Here are two examples from recent news. First, in April Chesterfield County approved Dominion Virginia Power’s request for a $50-million, 70-acre landfill for coal ash from Dominion’s Chesterfield County Power Station, Virginia’s largest fossil fuel plant, producing about 12 percent of the electricity used in the state. Dominion’s current ash landfill at the power station is predicted to reach its capacity by 2019. Dominion now must seek permits from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality for the landfill and an access road, which will include a bridge over a James River tributary creek; that permitting process could take three or more years. Second, also in April, the U.S. EPA reported that it had found no public-health threat from contaminants in the soil beneath the Battlefield Golf Club’s course in Chesapeake. News sources: Coal ash landfill project moves on to DEQ, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4/25/10; No current risk from golf course fly ash, EPA says, Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 4/23/10; Chesapeake to extend public water to fly ash site, Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 8/26/09; and Dominion asks judge to throw out $1 billion fly-ash suit, Norfolk Virginian-Pilot; 7/25/09. More information about Dominion’s Chesterfield Power Station is available at http://www.dom.com/about/stations/fossil/chesterfield-power-station.jsp. More information about the Chesapeake Energy Center is available at http://www.dom.com/about/stations/fossil/chesapeake-energy-center.jsp
  • Next, in a stormwater item: On May 3 in Richmond Circuit Court, the Virginia Attorney General’s office filed a complaint and announced a proposed consent decree over alleged storwmater violations by Flour Lane LLC during construction of 14 miles of new high-occupancy lanes on the Capital Beltway in Virginia. Under the proposed decree, the company would pay a $66,540 fine and implement an improved stormwater maintenance and inspection program, including weekly reviews by an independent auditor. The Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board will publish the proposed consent decree and provide a 30-day public-comment period. News source: Attorney General Cuccinelli announces filing of suit against alleged polluter and a settlement to keep Capital Beltway HOT lanes construction on schedule, Virginia Attorney General’s Office News Release, 5/5/10. Information on the filing of the complaint and upcoming process by the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board came from a 5/10/10 e-mail communication from Brian Gottstein, director of communication for the Office of the Attorney General.
  • And in our last news item this week: On May 5, ground was broken in the Accomack County town of Melfa for the Robert S. Bloxom Eastern Shore Agricultural Complex. The complex will house a new seafood storage-facility, a regional office for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the offices of the Eastern Shore Soil and Water Conservation District. The seafood-storage facility is intended to allow fish harvesters more opportunity to match deliveries of their catch with market demand. News source: Groundbreaking for New Robert S. Bloxom Eastern Shore Agricultural Complex in Melfa, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 5/5/10.

WATER SOUNDS AND MUSIC 


This week we feature a widely recorded fiddle tune named for a river with several southwestern Virginia tributaries: "Sandy River Belle,” performed in 1958 for a Galax radio show by Carroll County musicians Norman Edmonds and the Old Timers, and reproduced on a 2004 CD by Field Recorders’ Collective.

The title is thought to refer to the Big Sandy River, an Ohio River tributary that forms part of the border between West Virginia and Kentucky. The Levisa Fork, Russell Fork, and Tug Fork are all Big Sandy tributaries that flow through far southwestern Virginia.

As of 5/13/10, the Web site “Folk Music Index—An Index to Recorded Resources” lists 50 recordings of “Sandy River Belle” from the 1960s to the 2000s. More information about the Field Recorders’ Collective is available at http://www.fieldrecorder.com/index.htm.


UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS

First, in government policy and regulatory meetings:
  • On May 19 in Glen Allen is a meeting of the State Water Control Board’s Advisory Committee on the general permit for nitrogen and phosphorus discharges and for nutrient trading in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. For more information, phone George Cosby at (804) 698-4067.
  • On May 25, the Marine Resources Commission meets in Newport News. For more information, phone Jane McCroskey at (757) 247-2215. 
  • On May 26 in Richmond, the State Water Control Board holds a public hearing on the general discharge permit regulation for coin-operated laundries. For more information, phone George Cosby at (804) 698-4067.
Next, here’s one upcoming meeting about Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, for impaired waters:
  • May 26, in Emporia, on the TMDL study for portions of Fontaine Creek in Brunswick and Greensville counties. For more information, phone Margaret Smigo at (804) 527-5124.

Finally, in upcoming educational events:
  • On May 22 in Gloucester Point, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science holds its annual Marine Science Day. For more information, phone 804) 684-7000.
  • On May 29 at Chickahominy Riverfront Park in James City County, the James River Association is holding the Chickahominy Water Trail Festival. The featured activity is a paddling race up the river to highlight the newest segment of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Water Trail. For more information, phone (804) 788-8811.
  • And last—but perhaps most importantly—May 22 to 28 is National Safe Boating Week, organized by the National Safe Boating Council, which is headquartered in Prince William County, Virginia. For more information, you may phone the Council at (703) 361-4294, or visit www.safeboatingcouncil.org, but here’s the Council’s key message for Safe Boating Week: “Remember, nobody’s waterproof, so always wear your life jacket!”
For more information about government policy and regulatory meetings, click here for the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall, where these meetings are listed by date. TMDL meetings are also listed at the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality TMDL Web site.

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 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 Water Center, Virginia Tech, or this station.

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.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Virginia Water Radio 16: Week of May 10, 2010

Welcome to Virginia Water Radio (Episode 16) for the week of May 10, 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


NEWS
  • On April 22, the U.S. EPA’s Region 3 office announced $300,000 in grants for seven pilot projects to involve local governments, organizations, and citizens in developing implementation plans for the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL. Two of the pilot projects are in Virginia. One will be under the coordination of the Rivanna River Basin Commission and involve the City of Charlottesville and the counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, and Nelson. The second Virginia project will be in Prince William County, under the coordination of the county’s public works department. The five other pilot projects are in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. News source: Local Watershed Implementation Plan Pilot Projects, U.S. EPA, 4/22/10. More information: The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Web site for the Chesapeake Bay TMDL is www.dcr.virginia.gov/soil_and_water/baytmdl.shtml. The U.S. EPA’s Bay TMDL Web site is www.epa.gov/chesapeakebaytmdl/.
  • In late April, the Chesapeake Bay Program reported that the acreage of the Bay’s submerged aquatic vegetation (also called “underwater grasses” or “Bay grasses”) increased by 12 percent from 2008 to 2009. Increases were seen in all parts of the Bay, although some areas—such as several Anne Arundel County, Md., rivers—showed decreased vegetation or even no vegetation. Submerged vegetation provides oxygen, food, and habitat for many Bay fish, crustaceans, and other animals, and the extent of submerged vegetation is a key water-quality indicator. The 85,899 acres of vegetation recorded in 2009 is the highest seen since 2002 and is about half of the Bay-restoration goal of 185,000 acres. News sources: Underwater Bay Grasses Increase 12 Percent in Bay and Rivers in 2009, Chesapeake Bay Program News Release, 4/27/10; and Bay grasses up overall, down in Anne Arundel, Annapolis Capital, 5/1/10.
  • On April 20, the non-profit organization Potomac Conservancy—headquartered in Silver Spring, Md., and with a Shenandoah River office in Winchester—began a “Fish Mystery” campaign calling for more research into the causes of intersex characteristics in Smallmouth Bass and other fish in the Potomac River and some of its tributaries. “Intersex” refers to animals showing both male and female characteristics. Besides the occurrence of intersex characteristics in Potomac basin fish, an August 2009 U.S. Geological Survey study found “widespread” occurrence of intersex characteristics in Smallmouth Bass and Largemouth Bass in several U.S. rivers between 1995 and 2004. Responding to these and other findings, in December 2009 U.S. Rep. James Moran of Virginia introduced the Endocrine Disruption Prevention Act. The bill would authorize the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to conduct a research program on how to reduce exposure—especially of children—to endocrine-disrupting chemicals. News sources: Group Asks For More Study Of Potomac Intersex Fish, Associated Press, 4/20/10; and Widespread Occurrence of Intersex Bass Found in U.S. Rivers, USGS News Release, 9/14/09. More information about the Potomac Conservancy is available at http://www.potomac.org/site/. The USGS study, “Widespread occurrence of intersex in black basses (Micropterus spp.) from U.S. Rivers, 1995-2004,” is in the August 13, 2009, online edition of Aquatic Toxicology. More information on the Endocrine Disruption Prevention Act (HR 4190) is available at the Library of Congress’s “Thomas” Web site, http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.4190
  • Also on April 20, the U.S. EPA and K. Hovnanian Homes announced a settlement over 591 alleged Clean Water Act violations in 18 states and Washington, D.C. The alleged violations are related to stormwater management at construction sites managed by Hovnanian, a nationwide home-building company. Seventy of the sites in the EPA complaint are in Virginia, and 161 sites are in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The settlement includes a $1-million fine and requirement for Hovnanian to develop a company-wide stormwater-management plan, improve various practices, and submit annual reports to the EPA. The settlement has a 30-day public comment period and is subject to approval by a federal court in Pennsylvania. News sources: Residential Homebuilder Settles Clean Water Act Violations in 18 States and D.C. Settlement affects 161 construction sites in Chesapeake Bay watershed, U.S. EPA News Release, 4/20/10, and Local sites part of Hovnanian settlement, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 4/23/10, More EPA information about the settlement is available online at www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/cwa/hovnanian.html.  
  • And in our last news item this week: The 2010 Virginia General Assembly passed legislation designating four new Virginia Scenic River segments. The new segments are six miles of the Jordan River in Rappahannock County; 10 miles of the Hazel River in Culpeper, Madison, and Rappahannock counties; nine miles of the Russell Fork in Dickenson County; and 56 miles of the Blackwater River in the counties of Isle of Wight and Southampton and the cities of Franklin and Suffolk. The Scenic River program identifies and designates rivers and streams with outstanding scenic, recreational, historic, and natural characteristics. With the four new segments, Virginia now has 28 scenic river segments totaling 610 river miles. News source: Governor McDonnell Celebrates 40th Anniversary of the Establishment of Virginia's Scenic River Program, Virginia Governor’s News Release, 4/23/10. More information on the Virginia Scenic River Program is available at www.dcr.virginia.gov/recreational_planning/srmain.shtml.  

WATER SOUNDS AND MUSIC  

This week we featured a new mystery sound: the Gray Treefrog

Gray Treefrogs are 1-to-3 inch-long and are commonly found in Virginia’s Piedmont, the Blue Ridge region, and the mountains as far south as the New River watershed. As the name implies, they live mostly in trees, except during their breeding season when they move to shallow, standing waters to mate. Information from Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia, by B.S. Martof et. al., University of North Carolina Press/Chapel Hill (1980); Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Virginia, J.C. Mitchell and K.K. Reay, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries/Richmond (1999); and the Web site of the Virginia Herpetological Society (VHS) Web site, http://fwie.fw.vt.edu/VHS/VHS information about Gray Treefrogs). (click here to go directly to VHS information about Gray Treefrogs).



UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS

First, in government policy and regulatory meetings:  
  • On May 11, the Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Board’s two area-review committees meet in Richmond. For more information, phone David Dowling at (804) 786-2291.
  • On May 13 in Glen Allen, and on May 18 in Harrisonburg, the State Water Control Board holds public hearings on proposed amendments to the general permit for Poultry Waste Management Regulations. For more information, phone Betsy Bowles at (804) 698-4095. The regulation is (9 VAC 25-630). The proposed amendments were published in the Virginia Register on 4/12/10, and the public comment period ends 6/11/10. More information and relevant documents are at www.townhall.state.va.us/L/viewstage.cfm?stageid=5475&display=documents.
  • On May 18, the Groundwater Protection Steering Committee meets in Richmond. For more information, phone Mary Ann Massie at (804) 698-4042.

    For more information about government policy and regulatory meetings, click here for the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall, where these meetings are listed by date. TMDL meetings are also listed at the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality TMDL Web site.
      
Next, here’s one upcoming meeting about Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, for impaired waters:
  • May 13, in Williamsburg, on the TMDL implementation plan for Mill Creek and Powhatan Creek. For more information, phone Jennifer Howell at (757) 518-2111.
Finally, in upcoming educational events:
  • On May 15, the Naval Heritage Society will cross the Chesapeake Bay in a 26-foot, human- and wind-powered Monomoy pulling boat. The crossing is from First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach to Kiptopeke State Park on the Eastern Shore. Once the boat lands at Kiptopeke, park visitors can view the vessel and learn about its history, including use in marine rescues. For more information, phone (757) 331-2267.
  • And on May 19 at Mathews State Forest in Galax, and May 20 at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon, the Southwest Virginia Fire Learning Network is organizing “Fire History and Vegetation Changes in the Appalachian Mountains from Presettlement to the Present.” For more information, phone Zachary Olinger at (276) 236-2322.   

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 were provided by Patrick Fay. Recording assistance was provided by Gabrielle Minnich of the Office of University Relations at Virginia Tech.

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, or visit our web site at www.virginiawaterradio.org.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Virginia Water Radio 15: Week of May 3, 2010

Welcome to Virginia Water Radio (Episode 15) for the week of May 3, 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 no longer available, as of 3-5-12.


NEWS

  • A research paper published in March found that 20 out of 40 sites on large streams or rivers in the United States showed statistically significant temperature increases over periods from 21 to 98 years and ending between 2003 and 2007. The most rapid rate of increase was 1.4 degrees F per decade at the Delaware River near Chester, Penn., from 1965 to 2007. The Potomac River near Washington, D.C., increased about 0.8 degrees F per decade from 1922 to 2006. Two sites showed temperature decreases, including the Jackson River at Hot Springs, Va., which decreased about 1.8 degrees F per decade from 1979 to 2003. At the other 18 sites, no statistically significant trend was seen. The authors attribute the temperature increases to urbanization and global climate change. Such temperature changes, even though small, can have various ecological effects, particularly if continued over many years. News source: The paper, Rising stream and river temperatures in the United States, was published in the March 23, 2010, online version of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. The lead author, Sujah Kaushal, is at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, and one of the co-authors, Michael Pace, is now at the University of Virginia’s Department of Environmental Sciences.
  • The 2010 Virginia General Assembly passed several renewable-energy measures. Here are the basic provisions of three of those measures. 1) House Bill 803 and Senate Bill 623 establish the Green Jobs Tax Credit, which allows a $500 tax credit for “green” jobs created since January 1, 2010. 2) House Bill 928 creates the Universities Clean Energy Development and Economic Stimulus Foundation to help fund research, development, and commercialization of alternative fuels, clean energy production, and related technologies. 3) And House Bill 389 and SB 577 create the Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority to support wind-powered electric energy facilities off Virginia’s coast beyond the Commonwealth's three-mile jurisdictional limit. News source: Governor McDonnell Signs Green Energy Legislation at Old Dominion University, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 4/2/10. Additional information: The other bills signed by the governor on April 2 were the following (with quotes from the governor’s news release): HB1022—Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) Program: “provides that an investor-owned electric utility will receive triple credit toward meeting the goals of the RPS program for energy derived from offshore wind.” HB 533/SB 112—SAVE Act: authorizing “investor-owned natural gas utilities to petition the State Corporation Commission to implement a separate rider that will allow for recovery of certain costs associated with eligible infrastructure replacement projects,” including projects that enhance safety or reliability and those that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. HB 806—Alternative Fuels Revolving Fund: adding improvement of infrastructure (such as refueling stations) as a goal of the Alternative Fuels Revolving Fund. SB 110—Clean Energy Financing: authorizing localities, in order to secure loans for the initial acquisition and installation of clean energy improvements, to place liens against any property where such clean energy systems are being installed. For more information about these bills, visit the Virginia Legislative Information System Web site at http://leg1.state.va.us/.
  • On April 28, Governor Robert McDonnell announced that the federal government approved disaster assistance for Virginia’s recovery from the two winter storms that occurred between February 5 and 11, 2010. The assistance will help cover costs of damage to critical infrastructure, debris removal, and related emergency services in 29 counties and eight cities. Assistance was also approved for the costs of snow removal in 13 of these counties and seven of these cities. In February, the federal government approved assistance for 31 counties and nine cities affected by the December 18-20, 2009, snowstorm. News sources: Governor McDonnell Announces Federal Disaster Assistance for State and Local Governments, Virginia Governor’s News Release, 4/28/10; and Governor McDonnell Announces Federal Disaster Assistance for State and Local Governments, Virginia Governor’s News Release, 2/16/10
  • And our last news item this week is our monthly water status report. First, in precipitation: According to the Southeast Regional Climate Center, precipitation across Virginia between March 30 and April 28 ranged from about one-half inch to about 4 inches. Most areas of Virginia received below-normal rainfall—compared to the historical record for this period—while rainfall in most of far southwestern Virginia was about normal. Second, in stream flow: According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s WaterWatch, streamflows averaged over April 1 to April 28 were normal in most of the Commonwealth, with below- Virginia again being drought-free, as it has been since November 2009. But be on the look-out: abnormally dry conditions have recently appeared in parts of North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Maryland. Additional information: Below are the monthly precipitation and 28-day-average stream flow maps referred to above (please note the color-code chart for the stream flow map). They are included because it’s not easy to find archives of those maps at the respective Web sites. In contrast, archives of the drought maps are easy to find at the Drought Monitor Web site.


    Precipitation Map



    Streamflow Map (28-day average, as of 4/28/10)



     

WATER SOUNDS AND MUSIC 

This week we feature “Bear Creek Blues,” recorded by Sara and Maybelle Carter in 1940 and taken from the 1996 CD “Virginia Traditions: Southwest Virginia Blues” by Global Village Music and Ferrum College’s Blue Ridge Institute.

Wise County has a stream called Bear Creek, a Bear Creek reservoir, and most recently, a Bear Creek housing development. So was A.P. Carter referring to that Bear Creek when he wrote the lyrics to this song? If any listeners know the answer to that mystery, Virginia Water Radio would love to know!


UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS

First, in government policy and regulatory meetings:
  • On May 4, the Division of Mined Land Reclamation will hold an informal hearing on a notice of violation at Cumberland River Coal Company’s Black Mountain mine near Dunbar in Wise County. For more information, phone Harve Mooney at (276) 523-8271.
  • And on May 11, the Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Board’s Northern Area Review Committee meets in Richmond. For more information, phone David Dowling at (804) 786-2291.
Next, here is one upcoming meeting about Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, for impaired waters:
  • May 6 in Lynchburg, on the TMDL for the James River and several tributaries in Amherst and Bedford counties and the City of Lynchburg. For more information, phone Paula Nash at (434) 582-5120.
Finally, in upcoming educational events:
  • On May 7 in Henrico, the Virginia Water Monitoring Council holds its annual conference, titled “What's Coming Down the Pipe--Exploring Emerging Water-quality Issues.” For more information, phone Katie Register at (434) 395-2602.
  • On May 8 in Leesburg, the non-profit organization Wisdom Spring is holding Walking for Water, an annual event to raised funds for water wells, medicine, and education in the African country of Burkina Faso. For more information, phone Susan Hough at (703) 505-5152.
  • And last, looking somewhat farther ahead, On May 25-26 at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, Abingdon, the Clinch-Powell Clean Rivers Initiative holds its annual symposium, this year titled “Conservation Management of the Clinch and Powell River Systems: How Towns, Roads, and Development Influence Aquatic Environments.” For more information, phone Braven Beaty at (276) 676-2209. 

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 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 Water Center, Virginia Tech, or this station.

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.