Monday, April 18, 2011

Virginia Water Radio 62: Week of Apr. 18, 2011

Sound file archived 11/7/11.  For a copy, please contact Virginia Water Radio.

TRANSCRIPT:
From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio (Episode 62), for the week of April 18, 2011.  

NEWS
  • April 27 is the last day of a 30-day public comment period by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation on proposed changes to state stormwater-management regulations. In December 2009, the Soil and Water Conservation Board adopted new regulations that were developed over several years. The 2010 Virginia General Assembly, however, suspended those regulations until after the establishment of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL. On March 9, a regulatory advisory panel established by the General Assembly completed a review of the proposed regulations, and its recommendations are the subject of the current public-comment period. The major areas addressed by proposed changes are stormwater-management plans, land-disturbing activities in the Bay watershed, pollution-prevention plans, water-quality and water-quantity control requirements, off-site compliance options, and grandfathering allowances. News source: The proposed changes—to Parts I, II, and III, in the Virginia Administrative Code at 4VAC 50-60—and other documents are available at http://dcr.virginia.gov/lr2d.shtml. Additional information from SWM Regulation Public Comment Period Underway, Field Notes, Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc., 4/4/11. The initial notice of intended regulatory action for the changes adopted in December 2009 was issued in November 2005. The 2010 General Assembly legislation delaying implementation of the December 2009 regulations was HB 1220/SB 395.
  • In Summer 2011, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation will start developing an inventory of best management practices that farmers and foresters have implemented voluntarily to reduce water pollution. This is a General Assembly-mandated effort in response to concerns raised by farmers that their actions have not been adequately accounted for in the Chesapeake Bay TMDL.  News source: DCR to track farmers' conservation efforts, Staunton News Leader, 3/31/11.
Now, here’s a rapid report of several recent stories:
  • On March 31 the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission—representing 16 local governments—voted not to file a lawsuit against the U.S. EPA over the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. News source: Leaders choose not to sue EPA over 'pollution diet', Virginian-Pilot, 4/1/11; and Farm Bureau sues over 'pollution diet' for the bay, Virginian-Pilot, 1/12/11. More detail for newsletter: Commission members had been considering a legal challenge over the cost of the plan and the science used by the EPA to develop it. But they chose instead to send a letter to the EPA stating their concerns and questions about the plan, particularly over possible new stormwater-management requirements, and asking for a reply within 30 days. One lawsuit against the EPA over the plan has been filed; that was done in January by the American Farm Bureau Federation and its Pennsylvania affiliate in federal district court in Harrisburg.
  • In mid-March, a group of Virginia Tech students working with community members of a river-surrounded Haitian village completed a suspension bridge that reduces villagers’ walk for essential goods and services from several hours to only a few minutes. News source: A bridge to prosperity: Tech students help Haiti, Collegiate Times, 3/28/11; and Web site for the Virginia Tech chapter of Bridges to Prosperity, http://www.b2p.org.vt.edu/, 3/29/11. More detail for newsletter: The Tech students worked as part of the first U.S. student chapter of Bridges to Prosperity, a non-profit, volunteer-based organization that collaborates on similar projects with rural communities in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
  • During the week of April 11-15, the James River Association conducted its fourth “Extreme Stream Makeover,” this year in the Stoney Run watershed in Newport News, where citizens, businesses, and organizations did various stream clean-up and restoration projects. News source: Extreme Stream Make-over: Stoney Run, April 11-15, 2011, James River Association Web site, 4/7/11. More detail for newsletter: The projects include streamside tree planting, litter removal, rain-garden construction, and stormwater-pond repair. From 2007 to 2009, JRA organized similar efforts in Colonial Heights, Richmond, and Lynchburg.
  • And Dominion Virginia Power plans to seek approval from local governments, the Department of Environmental Quality, and the State Corporation Commission to convert power plants in Altavista, Hopewell, and Southampton County from burning coal to burning waste wood remaining after timbering operations. News source: Dominion proposes burning biomass at three plants, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4/2/11. More detail for newsletter: The company hopes to have the plants in operation by 2013, when they would each have a 50-megawatt capacity and be run continuously, providing enough electricity for about 37,500 residences.
And in our last news item this week: 
  • Would you know a vernal pool if you found one? If you were an amphibian, you surely would! Vernal pools are temporary water bodies that provide habitat for breeding amphibians, including frogs, toads, and salamanders. The temporary nature of such pools—which are called “vernal” because they typically have water in spring—helps keep out fish that would eat amphibian eggs or larvae before they can develop and leave the pools. This spring, several scientists from Virginia Commonwealth University (or VCU) and the College of William and Mary, along with over 80 volunteers from Virginia Master Naturalists, are surveying 16 counties in central Virginia for some 200 vernal pools identified in the 1980s by retired VCU biologists Charles and Leann Blem. The current project aims to see how many pools remain from the previous survey, to check the health of their amphibian populations, and to encourage landowners to protect these habitats. News source: Protecting pools of knowledge, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4/3/11.
WATER SOUNDS AND MUSIC

This week we feature “Falls of Richmond,” performed by Timothy Seaman on his 2004 CD, “Virginia Wildlife,” a collaboration with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. The falls of Richmond are the series of scenic and dramatic rapids marking the Fall Line in the James River, where the river flows out of the Piedmont and into the Coastal Plain. Along with its natural features, the Richmond falls area has many historical connections to the city’s role in transportation, industry, and the Civil War. The James River Park System, started from an initial land donation in 1972, now includes 550 acres of shoreline and islands throughout most of Richmond’s Fall Line area, creating what the Friends of James River Park call a “watery and woodsy gem of a public park.” Information about the James River falls at Richmond was taken from the James River Association’s James River Water Trail Map (Middle Section, Map 6); and the Web site of the James River Park System, at www.jamesriverpark.org/index.php. For more information about the “Virginia Wildlife” CD, visit https://www3.dgif.virginia.gov/estore/proddetail.asp?prod=VW219.

UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS

First, in Virginia government policy and regulatory meetings occurring between April 21 and 27:
  • On April 26 at 9 a.m., the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries’ Finance, Audit, and Compliance Committee meets at 4000 West Broad Street in Richmond. The Board’s Education, Planning, and Outreach Committee meets at 11 a.m. that day, in the same location.
  • On April 26 at 9:30 a.m., the Marine Resources Commission meets at 2600 Washington Avenue in Newport News.
  • On April 26 at 1 p.m., the Stakeholder Advisory Group for phase II of the watershed implementation plan of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load meets at the State Capitol building in Richmond. This group is to provide guidance and to the Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources during the development of implementation plans at the local level for the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Phase II Watershed Implementation Plan. Draft Phase II plans are due to the EPA by December 1, 2011. More information is available at the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Bay TMDL Web site, http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/vabaytmdl/index.shtml, or the U.S. EPA Bay TMDL Web site, http://www.epa.gov/chesapeakebaytmdl/.
  • And on April 26, at 6 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church in Upperville, the Department of Conservation and Recreation holds a public meeting on the master plan for Sky Meadows State Park. Sky Meadows State Park is located in Clarke and Fauquier counties.
Finally, in educational, recreational, and stewardship events:
  • Between April 20 and June 7, Clean Virginia Waterways is holding six Rain Barrel Workshops. Participants will convert a pickle barrel into a functional rain barrel, while learning about using the barrels to conserve water and reduce stormwater runoff. For more information or to register, phone (434) 395-2602. Clean Virginia Waterways is affiliated with Longwood University in Farmville. The workshops are April 20 in Richmond, April 30 in Midlothian, May 4 and 5 in Dublin, May 25 in Richmond, and June 7 at a location to be announced.
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.