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.



NEWS
  • 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, http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/cwa/beazer.html, 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 http://www.nps.gov/fomc/index.htm. More information about OpSail is available at its Web site, http://www.opsail.org/ or by phone to (202) 638-1121. 
WATER SOUNDS AND MUSIC

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 http://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/catt/pdf/va/2003_va_catt_report_2.pdf.  

UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS
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 http://www.townhall.state.va.us/L/viewchapter.cfm?chapterid=1145

  • 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 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 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.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Virginia Water Radio 46: Week of Dec. 13, 2010

From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio (Episode 46), for the week of December 13, 2010.
Click to Listen to Episode (Length: 00:08:14)

NEWS
  • Throughout December, the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin, located in Rockville, Maryland, is asking for basin watershed groups to provide information for a Potomac River Basin Watershed Group Directory. The directory will allow groups to share funding information and lessons from project successes and failures, and it will also include an online map to allow people to find their local watershed group. The Commission hopes to receive information from each Potomac watershed group by the end of December and to develop the map by February 2011. To participate, phone the Commission at (301) 984-1908 or visit potomacriver.orgNews source: Interstate Commission on Potomac River Basin, www.potomacriver.org, 12/1/10.
  • On December 1, Governor McDonnell’s Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring submitted 133 recommendations for reducing state government costs, increasing efficiency, privatizing some functions, and reviewing state mandates on localities. The Commission also made 79 additional recommendations regarding the state’s energy use, waste management, and water use by state agencies and at state-owned or leased facilities. The water recommendations include the following: increased auditing of water use and expenses; employee training for water-use awareness; increased water-efficiency standards for new state buildings; using various practices to reduce building and landscape water use; investigating opportunities for wastewater reuse; and a statewide study of potential cost savings from consolidating, and possibly privatizing, water and wastewater facilities operated by state agencies. News source: Governor McDonnell Receives Full Report from Commission on Government Reform & Restructuring, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 12/1/10. The full report and other information about the Commission are available online at http://www.reform.virginia.gov/.
  • The Bay Coast Railroad Barge will resume service in mid-December, after suspending service in 2009 to correct structural safety problems. The barge provides a connection over 26 miles of Chesapeake Bay water between rail lines on the Eastern Shore and in Hampton Roads. While the barge was being repaired, freight it normally carries was hauled by trucks through the Bay Bridge-Tunnel or by the Norfolk Southern rail line through Maryland and then back to Hampton Roads. The $1 million worth of barge repairs were paid for by $700,000 from the Commonwealth and $300,000 from Accomack County, Northampton County, and Bay Coast Railroad. News source: Governor McDonnell Announce Rail-Barge Service from Eastern Shore to Resume, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 12/7/10.
  • On December 4, 11 Waynesboro business leaders agreed to serve on a board to help create the Center for Coldwaters Restoration along the South River. The idea for the Center is to develop an advanced hatchery for Brook Trout. The hatchery would support research and education on the water-resources and fisheries impacts of chemical contamination, land use and development, and climate change. The project is estimated to cost $5 million for construction and for the first five years of operation. News sources: Waynesboro hatchery leaders step up, Waynesboro News Virginian, 12/5/10; and “Summit emphasizes revitalization,” Waynesboro News Virginian, 4/14/10.
  • And our last news item this week starts with a little quiz. True or false: trash thrown onto a street is often carried by stormwater into local waterways and eventually into larger rivers? That’s quite ture. But in a survey of 1000 adults done in the Potomac River watershed in 2008 by the Trash Free Potomac River Watershed Initiative, 77 percent of respondents incorrectly believed tha So far, Arlington and Fairfax counties, Prince Georges County in Maryland, and the District of Columbia have agreed to implement the public-education campaign. The campaign is one of several projects being done by the Initiative towards a goal of cleaning all trash from Potomac basin waterways by 2013.  News source: Potomac Basin Reporter, Sept./Oct. 2010. More information about the Initiative’s Regional Anti-Litter Campaign, including access to the 2008 survey results, is available online at http://www.fergusonfoundation.org/trash_initiative/antilitter.shtml.

WATER SOUNDS AND MUSIC

This week we feature another mystery sound: The Great Blue Heron

A large, mostly gray bird found year-round in Virginia and much of the United States, Great Blue Herons are a familiar sight in all kinds of water bodies, standing very still as they hunt for fish and other aquatic animals. They will also, however, venture into upland fields in search of rodents. Great Blues usually nest in colonies with other herons and related species, typically building a nest of sticks and other materials high up in trees or in other places out of reach of predators. Thanks to Lang Elliott of NatureSound Studio for providing th is recording. Information on Great Blue Herons was taken from A Guide to Field Identification of Birds of North America, by Chandler S. Robbins et al. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2001); Life in the Chesapeake Bay-3rd Edition, by Alice Jane Lippson and Robert L. Lippson (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006); the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology’s “Bird Guide” Web site at http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/search; and “Birds of North America Online” at http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna

UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS

First, in Virginia government policy and regulatory meetings occurring between Dec. 16 and December 22.
  • On December 21, the Marine Resources Commission meets in Newport News. For more information, phone Jane McCroskey at (757) 247-2215.
Next, here are two meetings about Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, for impaired waters:
  • December 16, in Cedar Bluff, on the TMDL study for bacterial impairments in Coal Creek, Middle Creek, Plum Creek, and the Clinch River, all in Tazewell County. Coal Creek also has an aquatic-life impairment. For more information, phone Allen Newman at (276) 676-4804.
     
  • And also on December 16, in Madison, on the TMDL implementation plan for bacterial impairments in Little Dark Run and the Robinson River, both in Madison County. For more information, phone Bob Slusser (Sluss-er) at (540) 351-1590.
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 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 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.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Virginia Water Radio 45: Week of Dec. 6, 2010

From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio (Episode 45), for the week of December 6, 2010.
Click to Listen to Episode (Length: 00:08:28)

NEWS

  • 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.
And the last news item this week is our monthly water status report.
  • 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.
WATER SOUNDS AND MUSIC

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.
Next, here is one meeting about Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, for impaired waters:
  • 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.
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 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 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.