Monday, March 7, 2011

Virginia Water Radio 56: Week of Mar. 7, 2011

From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio (Episode 56), for the week of March 7, 2011.

Audio archived 6/22/12; please contact Virginia Water Radio for access to audio file (length = 7:40).


Our opening item this week is the Monthly Water Status report as of the end of February, prior to the widespread, heavy rain on March 5 and 6 that caused some stream and river flooding and—at least temporarily—relieved the dry conditions seen in Virginia during January and February:
  • First, here are National Weather Service preliminary precipitation totals for February at five Virginia locations: Bristol, 4.5 inches, or 1.1 inches above normal for February; Danville, 2 inches, or 1.4 below normal; Richmond, 2.1 inches, or 0.9 below normal; Dulles Airport, 2.2 inches, or 0.6 below normal; and Norfolk, 2.2 inches, or 1.1 below normal.
  • Second, in stream flow: According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s WaterWatch, streamflows averaged over February were below normal at about 83 percent of gages in Virginia and just beyond the state border. Flows were in normal at about 17 percent of gages.
Now, here’s a lightning-fast look at some other stories:
  • This spring over 2000 acres or 41 percent of the shellfish grounds in Virginia Beach’s Lynnhaven River will be open for unrestricted clam and oyster harvesting, the highest percentage in about 50 years, reflecting efforts by the City to reduce sewage spills and by citizens to prevent pet waste from reaching the river.
  • Virginia Tech and Virginia State will join nine other southern U.S. land-grant institutions on a five-year, $20 million project to study the effects of climate change on southern pine forests. 
And in our last news item: 
  • On March 1 in Baltimore, University of Virginia faculty members Jorg Sieweke, Robin Dripps, and Lucia Phinney presented their idea for uncovering part of Jones Falls, the stream where the city’s first European settled in the 1600s but which has been covered by city roads since 1915. Uncovering, or “daylighting,” streams covered by urban architecture has been done in other places to improve water quality and increase public stewardship of waterways. Jones Falls in Baltimore would be a difficult case, being covered by—among other things—a downtown expressway. According to Dr. Sieweke, the idea is “truly speculative” but might be the kind of bold thinking that could help transform the city and the water quality of its harbor. News Source: Blog: A radical idea for helping Baltimore's harbor - uncover the Jones Falls, Baltimore Sun, 3/1/11.


This week we feature another mystery sound: The Osprey

Sometimes mistaken for Bald Eagles, adult Osprey differ from our national bird in having white under their wings and dark marks on their head and tail. Like Bald Eagles, however, an Osprey’s sharp talons, hooked beak, and keen eyesight make it a raptor, a word whose Latin root means “to seize.” While many raptors capture a variety of animals, aquatic-based Osprey feed almost completely on fish—giving rise to its nickname, Fish Hawk. A ban on the use of the pesticide DDT in the United States greatly helped the recovery of severely diminished populations of Osprey, eagles, and other birds, whose eggshells were thinned by the chemical. The Chesapeake Bay Program estimates that the Bay area now has about 2,000 pairs of nesting Osprey, which return to the region in March. Thanks to Lang Elliott of NatureSound Studio for providing this recording.  Information on Osprey 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, 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; and the Chesapeake Bay Program Web site at Another good source of information is “Birds of North America Online” at Information on the effects of DDT was taken from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ Web site at


First, in Virginia government policy and regulatory meetings, occurring between March 10 and 16:
  • Also on March 10, at 10 a.m., the Virginia Department of Health’s Marina Regulations Advisory Committee meets at the Perimeter Center in Richmond. The advisory committee is to make recommendations to the State Board of Health on possible amendments to Virginia’s Sanitary Regulations for Marinas and Boat Moorings (12VAC 5-570 in the Virginia Administrative Code). For more information: Preston Smith, (804) 864-7468 or
Now, here are two meetings about Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, for impaired waters:
  • And March 16, 6:30 p.m. at the public library in Floyd, on the TDML study for aquatic life, bacteria, and temperature impairments in Little River and ten of its tributaries in Floyd, Montgomery, and Pulaski counties. For more information: Mary Dail, (540)562-6715 or
Finally, in educational and recreational events:
  • 8. On March 15, at 9:45 a.m., many Virginia schools, agencies, and other organizations will participate in the annual Statewide Tornado Drill. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management coordinates the event. For more information, see this February 3 news release from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

Virginia Water Radio is a product of the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, which is solely responsible for the show’s content. Hosting and bandwidth for this podcast are also provided by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center. We invite you to visit the center online at

Show notes and production assistance were provided by Patrick Fay. Emily Whitesell helped write this week’s Water Sounds and Music segment. 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