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.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Virginia Water Radio 61: Week of Apr. 11, 2011

From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio (Episode 61), for the week of April 11, 2011.

Audio archived 4-13-12; please contact Virginia Water Radio for access to the audio file.

NEWS
  • A recent Virginia Water Radio item noted the mid-February discovery of several hundred gallons of petroleum in a drain at the Pickett Road Tank Farm on the eastern edge of Fairfax City. That incident followed spills in 2010 from a tanker truck accident and an underground leak, and a large spill some 20 years ago that reportedly still affects local groundwater. Responding to that series of incidents, the 2011 Virginia General Assembly passed companion bills HB 2103 and SB 843, requiring the State Water Control Board to mandate that the tank farm meet performance standards for new or retrofitted tanks by 2021. News sources: Release of fuel detected at tank farm, Fairfax Connection, 3/2/11; and Fuel release reaches 1,000 gallons, Fairfax Connection, 3/14/11. 
  • On March 30 and 31, four public listening sessions were held in Virginia Beach to gather citizens’ comments and concerns about predicted sea-level rises in the Hampton Roads area. The City of Virginia Beach’s comprehensive plan cites estimates that average sea level could rise between 2 and 5 feet by 2100, increasing flooding and storm-surge threats to waterfront areas. Along with the City, sponsors of the listening sessions were the University of Virginia, Wetlands Watch, and the Hampton Roads Sanitation District. The city council will receive results of the sessions at its April 19 meeting.  News source: Va. Beach meetings to take up threat of rising seas, Virginian-Pilot, 3/29/11.
Now, here’s a quick look at three other stories:
  • On March 29, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission approved a field study by Gamesa Energy USA to determine if environmental conditions are appropriate for construction of a single, prototype wind-energy turbine in waters about three miles offshore of Cape Charles, on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. If the study finds the site suitable, the company would need Commission approval for construction of the turbine. News source: Va. OKs study of wind turbines in Chesapeake Bay, Virginian-Pilot, 3/30/11. (Gamesa Energy USA is a Philadelphia-based subsidiary of the Gamesa Corporation in Spain.) 
  • Working with the FEMSA Foundation, the Blacksburg company Portaqua has developed a truck-based water-purification and bottling system that can deliver water to disaster-affected areas. The truck contains a laboratory and living space for four people, and can operate for up to five days at a time. News source: Portaqua: Come for Water (Ven Por Agua), Inside VT KnowledgeWorks, 3/25/11. (The FEMSA Foundation, which seeks to provide access to safe drinking water in Latin America and the Caribbean, was created by the FEMSA company, one of Latin America’s largest beverage companies.)
And in our last news item: 
  • In a recently published study, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, or VIMS, researchers reported that moving aquaculture-raised oysters to saltier water just before harvest significantly reduced the oysters’ level of the disease-causing bacterium Vibrio. This organism is the focus of U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations requiring Gulf of Mexico oyster farmers to use some type of post-harvest procedure to reduce Vibrio levels, such as quick freezing, high pressures, or low-dose irradiation. Some in the oyster industry assert that the post-harvest procedures are too costly and excessively target an organism that’s estimated to cause less than one percent of deaths from food-borne illness. The process in the VIMS study potentially offers a less costly alternative, but the researchers note that a full-scale validation study of the technique is still needed. News source: Public-private partnership aids oyster industry, Virginia Institute of Marine Science News Release, 3/21/11.
WATER SOUNDS AND MUSIC

This week we feature another mystery sound: unused and expired medications being disposed of without flushing them down a drain

Proper disposal of medications helps prevent unintended drug use and keeps pharmaceuticals from reaching waterways. If medications are flushed down a toilet or drain, typically the chemicals in the medications will remain after wastewater treatment and be discharged to waterways, where they can potentially harm aquatic life. So here are the disposal steps recommended for most medications: 1. Put medication into a sealable plastic bag. 2. Add cat litter, coffee grounds, or other material that will deter pets and children from eating the contents. 3. Seal the bag and put it in the trash. And 4. Remove all identifying personal information from prescription containers. Note that the federal Food and Drug Administration recommends flushing for certain medicines that pose a particular risk of improper use; a list of those medications is available at that agency’s Web site. And you should check to see whether any local ordinances prohibit disposal of medications in household trash in your area.

Information for this segment from the American Pharmacists Association’s “Smart Disposal” Web site; the U.S. EPA’s “Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products” Web site; and the Food and Drug Administration’s “Disposal of Unused Medicines: What You Should Know” Web site. More information: On April 30, 2011, law enforcement agencies statewide will conduct National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. The event is designed to help people properly dispose of unused drugs in order to help prevent improper drug use and to keep chemicals out of waterways. To see if a take-back day is happening near you, call your local police or sheriff’s department, or visit the U.S. Department of Justice “National Take Back Initiative” Web site, www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html, where you can search this site for the take-back location nearest you. 

UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS 

First, in Virginia government policy and regulatory meetings occurring between April 14 and April 20.
  • On April 18 at 10 a.m., the Stormwater Best Management Practices Clearinghouse Committee meets at the Virginia Department of Forestry office in Charlottesville. For more information: David Dowling, (804) 786-2291 or david.dowling@dcr.virginia.gov. The Stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) Clearinghouse is a Web site on design standards and specifications of all stormwater BMPs approved for use in Virginia to control the quality and/or quantity of stormwater runoff. More information about the Stormwater BMP Clearinghouse Committee is available at http://www.vwrrc.vt.edu/swc/.
  • On April 20 at 1 p.m., the Technical Advisory Committee on the general discharge permit regulation for car-wash facilities meets at the DEQ office in Richmond. For more information: For more information: George Cosby, (804) 698-4067 or george.cosby@deq.virginia.gov. The committee is assisting the DEQ and State Water Control Board in reissuing and possibly amending this regulation, located at 9 VAC 25-194 in the Virginia Administrative Code.
Now, here are two meetings about Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, for impaired waters:
  • April 19, 7 p.m., at the county administration building in Stafford, on TMDL studies for bacterial impairments in several Potomac River tributaries in Fauquier and Stafford counties. For more information: Jennifer Carlson, (703) 583-3859 or jennifer.carlson@deq.virginia.gov.
  • And April 20, 7 p.m., at the A.J. Ferlazzo Building in Woodbridge, also on TMDL studies for bacterial impairments in several Potomac River tributaries, in this case mostly in Prince William County. For more information: Jennifer Carlson, (703) 583-3859 or jennifer.carlson@deq.virginia.gov.
Finally, in educational, recreational, and stewardship 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, April 4, 2011

Virginia Water Radio 60: Week of Apr. 04, 2011

From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio (Episode 60), for the week of April 04, 2011.

Audio archived 2/22/12; please contact Virginia Water Radio for access to the audio file.


NEWS

Our opening item this week is the Monthly Water Status report as of the end of March:
  • First, here are National Weather Service preliminary precipitation totals for March at five Virginia locations: Bristol, 6.4.inches, or 2.5 inches above normal for March; Dulles Airport, 5.1 inches, or 1.5 above normal; Richmond, 4.3 inches, or 0.2 above normal; Danville, 4.2 inches, or just about normal; and Norfolk, 3 inches, or 1.1 below normal.
  • Second, in stream flow: According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s WaterWatch, streamflows averaged over March were in the normal range at about 42 percent of gauges in Virginia and just beyond the state border. Monthly average flows were below normal at about 11 percent of gauges, and above normal at about 47 percent of gauges. 
Now, here’s a lightning-fast look at three other recent stories.
  • On March 29 U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings introduced H.R. 1230 that would require the U.S. Interior Department to proceed with lease sales for offshore oil and gas exploration in certain areas of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. The bill affects areas where sales were postponed until at least 2017 by Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar in December 2010, including Lease Sale 220, a 2.9-million acre area off the coast of Virginia. News sources and other information: Governor McDonnell Applauds Congressional Legislation to Begin Offshore Energy Development in Virginia, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 3/29/11 (posted 3/31). If passed, H.R. 1230 would require the lease sales to proceed not later than one year after enactment of the bill. Rep. Hastings is a Republican from Washington’s 4th Congressional district.
  • On March 16, the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service announced that the agency will send four Strategic Watershed Action Teams of technical experts to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, the Delmarva Peninsula, southeastern Pennsylvania, and West Virginia to help farmers implement practices to reduce nutrients and sediments reaching the Chesapeake Bay. News Source: Natural Resources Conservation Service to Deploy Technical Teams to Accelerate Conservation in Chesapeake Bay, U.S. Natural Resource Conservation Service News Release, 3/16/11.
  • Meeting in Alexandria on March 21-24, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted to propose increasing to 15 percent (from the current 9 percent) the level of Atlantic Menhaden spawning stock protected from annual harvest, and to pursue a long-term management plan for Menhaden that takes into account its role as food for several predators, including Striped Bass and Bluefish. News Sources: “ASMFC Atlantic Menhaden Board Initiates Addendum to Increase Abundance and Spawning Stock Biomass,” ASFMC News Release, 3/24/11; and “Blog: Fisheries regulators take stock in menhaden,” Baltimore Sun, 3/22/11. The only commercial Menhaden harvest operation in Atlantic waters is conducted out of Reedsville, Va., by Omega Protein Corporation of Texas.
And in our last news item: 
  • Did you know that old or unused medicines left in the home are a significant source of drug abuse, and that disposing of old prescriptions by flushing them down the toilet or a drain can introduce chemicals into waterways that may affect fish or other aquatic life? National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is designed to help people prevent these problems and dispose of unused drugs properly. On April 30, law enforcement agencies at various locations statewide and around the country will accept old or unused prescription medications. To see if a take-back day is happening near you, call your police or sheriff’s department. If you can’t participate in a take-back initiative, the American Pharmacists Association recommends you follow these steps to dispose of medications: 1. Put medication into a sealable plastic bag. 2. Add cat litter, sawdust, coffee grounds, or any other material that will deter pets and children from eating the conte nts. 3. Seal the bag and put it in the trash. And 4. Remove and destroy all identifying personal information from prescription containers before recycling them or throwing them away. News source and more information: U.S. Department of Justice “National Take Back Initiative” Web site, www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html; you can search this site for the take-back location nearest you. For instructions on proper disposal of drugs, visit the American Pharmacists Association’s Smart Disposal Web site at smarxtdisposal.net.
WATER SOUNDS AND MUSIC

This week we feature “All Quiet Along the Potomac Tonight,” performed by Bobby Horton on the 1985 album “Homespun Songs of the C.S.A., Vol. 1.” The lyrics are from Ethel Lynn Beers’ poem “The Picket Guard,” published by Harper’s Magazine in November 1861. As a key border between the Union and the Confederacy, the Potomac River was a focal point of the Civil War. But many other waterways also were important in battles, strategy, and movement of troops and supplies. Control of the Mississippi River, for example, was a major objective of the war. Some Virginia examples are Bull Run near Manassas, the Rappahannock River, the Rapidan River, and of course the James River, site of the Confederate capital at Richmond and a major transportation route. Information on “All Quiet Along the Potomac” and Ethel Beers was taken from http://womenshistory.about.com/library/bio/blbio_beers_ethel_lynn.htm and from Britannica Encyclopedia Online at www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/58438/Ethel-Lynn-Beers. Information on rivers in the Civil War was taken from The History Place Web site at http://www.historyplace.com/civilwar/, and the USA Civil War Web site at http://usa-civil-war.com/CW_Rivers/rivers.html. Information on the First Battle of Manassas was taken from the National Park Service Web site at www.nps.gov/mana/index.htm


UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS

First, in Virginia government policy and regulatory meetings, occurring between April 7 and April 13.
  • On April 12, 9 a.m. at the DEQ regional office in Glen Allen, is the first meeting of the Regulatory Advisory Panel that helping develop a permit for small renewable energy projects using combustible materials, such as solid waste or biomass. For more information: Carol Wampler at (804) 698-4579 or Carol.Wampler@deq.virginia.gov. The Department of Environmental Quality is developing a permit by rule for small renewable energy projects from combustible sources, a regulatory action that the 2009 General Assembly (HB 2175/SB 1347) required for small renewable energy projects from various sources (wind, solar, and combustible sources). More information and relevant documents on the combustible-substances permit are available at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/viewchapter.cfm?chapterid=2803.
  • Also on April 12 at 9 a.m., the Board for Waterworks and Wastewater Works Operators and Onsite Sewage System Professionals meets at the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation office in Richmond. For more information: David Dick at (804) 367-8595 or waterwasteoper@dpor.virginia.gov.
  • On April 13 at 9 a.m., the Stakeholder Committee for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Nutrient-exchange Program meets at the Virginia Housing Center in Glen Allen. For more information: Russ Baxter at (804) 698-4382 or russ.baxter@deq.virginia.gov. The committee was established called for the 2011 General Assembly (SJ 334) to study the possible expansion of the Bay nutrient credit-exchange program.
  • And also on April 13 at 10 a.m., the Wildlife and Boat Committee of the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries meets at 4000 West Broad Street in Richmond. For more information: Beth Drewery at (804) 367-9149 or beth.drewery@dgif.virginia.gov.
Now, here is one meeting about Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, for impaired waters:
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.