Monday, March 28, 2011

Virginia Water Radio 59: Week of Mar. 28, 2011

From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio (Episode 59), for the week of March 28, 2011.

Audio archived 3-12-12; please contact Virginia Water Radio for access to the recording. (Length: 00:08:07)

  • On March 16, the U.S. EPA proposed new regulations for coal- and oil-fired power plant air emissions of toxic heavy metals and acidic gases, along with revised standards for particulates, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. The metals regulated include mercury, which can eventually fall into and contaminate water bodies. Other toxic emissions covered by the proposed regulations are suspected of causing cancer, respiratory diseases, or other human illnesses. The EPA estimates that the proposed rules will affect about 525 power plants, cost about $10.9 billion annually by 2016, and result in benefits worth between $53 billion and $140 billion. News sources: “Reducing Toxic Air Emissions from Power Plants,” U.S. EPA Web site,, accessed 3/22/11; and EPA proposes 'first-ever' emissions standards for power plants, Washington Post, 3/17/11.
  • According to the U.S. Geological Survey, as of 2005 over 1.6 million Virginians, or about 22 percent of the state’s population, were served by a private water supply, which in most cases is a residential well. The Virginia Household Water Quality Program, coordinated by Virginia Cooperative Extension, recommends that private well owners annually test their well water and examine the structure of their well. The annual test should be for coliform bacteria and should be done by a state-certified lab. Well owners should also test at least every three years for pH, nitrate, dissolved solids, and any other substances indicated by specific water problems or nearby sources of possible contaminants. The well examination should ensure that the casing is at least 12 inches above the ground; that a sealed, sanitary well cap is intact; that the area around the well is free of debris or any potential pollutants; and that the ground around the casing slopes away to prevent pooling of water. If you have questions, your local Extension office can help you or can refer you to a trained volunteer in the Virginia Master Well-owner Network. News sources: Well Informed newsletter of the Virginia Household Water Quality Program and Virginia Master Well Owner Network, March 2011; and Estimated Use of Water in the United States-2005,, accessed 3/24/11.
Now, here’s a quick look at three other recent stories:
  • As of the March 22 report of the U.S Drought Monitor, Virginia’s area of abnormally dry conditions was down to 64 percent, and the area of moderate drought was down to 30 percent, the lowest percentages since mid-January.  News source: U.S. Drought Monitor for Virginia, accessed 3/24/11.
  • In February, Fairfax County completed an eight-year project to develop comprehensive management plans for each of the county’s 30 major watersheds, covering 980 miles of streams along with wetlands other water resources. News source: Conservation Currents, Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District, Winter 2011.
  • The Radford Army Ammunition Plant, an explosives-manufacturing facility on the New River in Pulaski County, is asking the U.S. EPA for a 10-year extension of its permit to clean up old waste dump sites. Of 77 sites identified in 2000, 19 have been addressed, 51 are not contaminated or pose no risk, and seven still need attention for petroleum and metal wastes that have contaminated soil or groundwater.  News sources: C. Radford Army Ammunition Plant seeks more cleanup time from EPA, Roanoke Times, 3/17/11.
And in our last news item this week:
  • On March 17, Tony Milam of South Boston caught a 109-pound Blue Catfish in Buggs Island Lake, setting a new Virginia record for the species. Buggs Island Lake is a reservoir on the Staunton River—a section of the Roanoke River—in Mecklenburg County. The previous state Blue Catfish record was a 102.4-pound fish caught in the James River. Mr. Milam donated the new record to the Richmond Bass Pro Shop, which plans to display the live fish at the store. News source: South Boston man lures record catch, South Boston Gazette-Virginian, 3/21/11.

This week we feature another mystery sound: Tornado Warning Siren

The warning siren sounded on the Virginia Tech campus during the March 15 statewide tornado drill, part of Tornado Preparedness Day in Virginia. Whether by siren, broadcast, or some other way, if you receive a warning that a tornado is approaching your location, here’s what the Virginia Department of Emergency Management recommends you do. Take shelter in the nearest substantial building, specifically in the basement or in a small, windowless, interior room on the lowest level of the building. DON’T stay in an automobile or in a mobile home; instead, quickly seek a substantial building. If you’re outdoors, DON’T stay under a bridge or overpass; instead, lie flat in a ditch or other depression and cover your head with your hands. Tornadoes have occurred in Virginia in every month of the year, with the highest percentage between April and September. So please get tornado ready! Information on tornadoes and tornado preparedness was taken from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s Web page for tornadoes, 3/25/11. 


First, in Virginia government policy and regulatory meetings, occurring between March 31 and April 6.
  • On March 31 at 10 a.m., the Local Government Stakeholder Group on a model wind-energy ordinance meets at the central office of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, or DEQ, in Richmond. For more information: Carol Wampler, (804) 698-4579 or
  • Also on March 31, at 7 p.m. at the James River Conference Center in Lynchburg, the State Water Control Board holds a public hearing on proposed changes to Virginia’s regulations on land application of biosolids, or treated sewage sludge. For more information: William Norris, (804) 698-4022 or Public comments on the proposed changes are being accepted until April 29. Relevant documents and the online place to comment are at
  • On April 1 at 10 a.m., the Health Department’s Sewage Handling and Disposal Regulations Advisory Committee meets at the James Madison Building in Richmond. For more information: Allan Knapp, (804) 864-7458 or
  • And on April 6 at 9 a.m., the Health Department’s Sewage Handling and Disposal Appeal Review Board meets at the James Madison Building in Richmond. For more information: Donna Tiller, (804) 864-7470 or
Finally, in educational and recreational events:
  • On April 13 and 14, at the Johnson Center at George Mason University in Fairfax, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the national Climate Prediction Center, and George Mason are presenting the U.S. Drought Monitor Forum.
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. 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