Monday, January 10, 2011

Virginia Water Radio 48: Week of Jan. 10, 2011

From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio (Episode 48), for the week of January 10, 2011.

Audio archived 9-10-12; please contact Virginia Water Radio for access to audio file (length = 9 min/19 sec).

NEWS
  • On December 29, the U.S. EPA established the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (or TMDL), which the EPA calls a “landmark ‘pollution diet’ to restore clean water in [the Bay] and the region’s streams, creeks and rivers.” The plans’ goal is for the six Bay states and the District of Columbia to implement by 2025 the actions needed to reduce nitrogen in Bay waters by 25 percent, phosphorus by 24 percent, and sediment by 20 percent. Those actions are identified in Phase I Watershed Implementation Plans submitted by the Bay jurisdictions. The EPA news release on the TMDL states that the agency will “...regularly oversee each of the jurisdictions’ programs to make sure they implement the pollution control plans [and] remain on schedule for meeting water quality goals.” The agency’s oversight may include challenging state permits or taking enforcement actions on wastewater-treatment systems, municipal stormwater systems, or confined animal feeding operations. The agency also plans what it calls “enhanced oversight” of urban stormwater in Virginia and West Virginia, agriculture in Pennsylvania, and wastewater in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The next key phase of the Bay TMDL process will be development of Phase II Watershed Implementation Plans to identify local actions needed to reach pollution-reduction targets for individual watersheds. News sources: EPA Establishes Landmark Chesapeake Bay ‘Pollution Diet’, U.S. EPA News Release, 12/29/10; EPA unveils massive restoration plan for Chesapeake Bay, Washington Post, 12/30/10; and Impact EPA's Chesapeake Bay plan will have on Valley unknown, Staunton News Leader, 1/4/11. The complete Bay TMDL and other items are available at the EPA’s Bay TMDL Web site, http://www.epa.gov/chesapeakebaytmdl/. For Virginia’s official response to the December 29 release of the TMDL, EPA Accepts Virginia's Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Plan, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 12/29/10. 
  • In a closely related item: On December 28, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, or CBF, released its annual “State of the Bay Report,” for conditions in 2010. In each report, CBF rates 13 biological and chemical measurements from 0 to 100, with 100 intended to represent conditions as described by European settler Captain John Smith in the early 1600s. In the 2010 report, the average score was 31, a three-point improvement from 2008. The overall increase in 2010 was due to increased scores for eight of the 13 indicators, including a large increase in the score for Blue Crab populations. Scores for forested buffers, wetlands, Blue Crabs, and Rockfish were all fair or better. But scores for nitrogen, phosphorus, dissolved oxygen, toxics, underwater grasses, oysters, resource lands, and shad continued to be “poor” or “critical,” despite some slight improvements. News sources: Health of Bay getting better, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 12/28/10; and CBF State of the Bay Web site, 12/29/10. CBF “State of the Bay” reports are available online at www.cbf.org; or contact CBF’s Virginia office at (804) 780-1392. 
  • As of December 2010, Longwood University, in Farmville, was nearing final regulatory approval for a 215-acre, non-profit, wetlands-mitigation bank to be located on the Hull Spring Farm property in Westmoreland County. Longwood received the farm in a bequest. Once Longwood receives permits from the Army Corps of Engineers and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the university will begin restoring wetlands on the property while selling credits to builders as compensation for wetlands damage elsewhere in the Potomac River watershed. Besides providing wetlands credits, the wetlands bank will offer educational and research opportunities, including a 10-year study by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science on the bank’s effectiveness in wetland and stream restoration. News source: Longwood creating wetlands bank in Neck, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 12/21/10. 
  • 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 December 2010 at several Virginia locations: Richmond, 3.3 inches, which is 0.2 inches above normal; Norfolk, 2.9 inches, or 0.1 inches below normal; Bristol, 2.6 inches, or 0.8 inches below normal; Roanoke, 2 inches, or 0.9 inches below normal; Danville, 1.8 inches, or 1.4 inches below normal; and Dulles Airport, 1.5 inches, or 1.6 inches below normal.
    • Second, in stream flow: According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s WaterWatch, streamflows averaged over the month of December were in the normal range at about 72 percent of stream gages in Virginia or just beyond the state border. Flows were below normal at about 22 percent of gages, mostly in the eastern part of the state; and above normal at about 5 percent of gages. 

WATER SOUNDS AND MUSIC

This week we feature another mystery sound: The Green Heron

During the summer, Green Herons are common around ponds, small streams, and other wet areas throughout Virginia and the eastern half of the United States, but they spend the winter along the southern U.S. coasts and in Central and South America. Green Herons are one of the smallest herons found in North America; they’re only about one-third as tall as North America’s largest heron, the Great Blue. Thanks to Lang Elliott of NatureSound Studio for providing this recording. Information on Green 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) and the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology’s “Bird Guide” Web site at http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/search. Another good source of information is “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 January 12 and 19. 
  • On January 12, the 2011 Virginia General Assembly convenes in Richmond for a scheduled 30-day session. 
  • On January 13, a sub-committee of 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 19, the Goose Creek Scenic River Advisory Committee meets in Purcellville. For more information, phone David Dowling at (804) 786-2291 
Now, here is one meeting about Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, for impaired waters: 
  • January 19, in Afton, on the TMDL study for aquatic-life and bacteria impaired sections of Taylor Creek, and for bacteria-impaired sections of the North Fork Rockfish River, South Fork Rockfish River, and the main stem Rockfish River, all in Nelson County. For more information, phone Tara Sieber at (540) 574-7870. 
Finally, in educational and recreational events: 
  • On January 27, from 8 a.m.-12 noon at the Williamsburg Lodge, the Virginia Association of Surveyors is holding a Riparian Rights Technical Session as part of the association’s annual convention. For more information, phone (804) 262-1351. 
  • And last, here’s a way to learn a lot about Virginia rivers while helping monitor their health. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (or NOAA) needs volunteers for its Phytoplankton Monitoring Network. Phytoplankton are microscopic, floating algae that help indicate water-quality conditions. Volunteers who can sample year-round from the shore or docks along the Potomac or Rappahannock rivers can provide valuable information about water quality and the potential for algal blooms. Volunteer training takes about four hours. For more information, contact Matt Brim at (843) 762-8656.  
For more information about government policy and regulatory meetings, click here for the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall. Click here for Virginia General Assembly legislative committee and commission meetings. For TMDL meetings, click here for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality TMDL Web site(please note that TMDL meetings are also listed at the Town Hall site, but are included among all other meetings). Organizations, events, or both are hyperlinked whenever possible. Click on those links for more information.
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.