Monday, April 27, 2020

Episode 522 (4-27-20): Virginia Enacts a New Energy Era

Click to listen to episode (4:59)

Sections below are the following:
Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Images
Sources
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.)


Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 4-24-20.

TRANSCRIPT OF AUDIO

From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of April 27, 2020.

SOUND – ~8 sec

This week, the sounds of an electricity transmission line and the James River serve to remind us that energy use, including electricity generation, is closely linked with water resources.  As stated by the U.S. Geological Survey, “Energy is required to withdraw, transport, and treat water for human consumption, [and] water is required to extract and process fossil fuels…; .grow biofuels…; and…cool thermoelectric power plants….”  In Virginia, thermoelectric power generation is by far the largest single use of surface water withdrawals. [Ed. note not in audio, added 4/27/20: Moreover, the global water cycle is predicted to be affected by climate changes attributed to fossil fuel use for energy.]

Recently some far-reaching decisions were made affecting Virginia’s energy, water and other natural resources, and economy.  Have a listen for about 15 seconds to some sounds connected to those decisions.

SOUND and VOICES – ~12 sec – “The House will come to order. Members please take their seats…The Senate will come to order. The senators will please take their seats.”

The 2020 Virginia General Assembly passed [and the governor approved] two major acts affecting electricity generation, carbon emissions from that generation, and responses to recurrent or repetitive flooding.  The more complex of the two is the Virginia Clean Economy Act, which was House Bill 1526 and identical Senate Bill 851.  With a summary running to over 1200 words, this act is big, detailed, and historic.  Here are six major things the act does.

1. Changes from voluntary to mandatory the renewable-energy portfolio standard for Dominion Energy Virginia and American Electric Power, or AEP, requiring those companies to produce 100-percent carbon-emission-free electricity by 2045 and 2050, respectively.

2. Sets an energy-efficiency standard and requires Dominion and AEP to make annual improvements toward that standard.

3. Removes the state’s declaration that new nuclear power facilities are considered in the public interest, and increases significantly the electricity-production capacity from wind and solar considered in the public interest.

4. Increases the allowances on electricity generation by utility customers.

5. Establishes the Percentage of Income Payment Program to cap monthly utility payments by low-income customers.

And

6. Establishes that state agencies must consider how energy facilities and programs affect low-income geographic areas and historically economically disadvantaged communities located near energy facilities.

The second major law is the Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act, which was House Bill 981 and identical Senate Bill 1207.  This act has two major components.  First, it establishes a carbon dioxide cap-and-trade program, intended to reduce carbon emissions from electricity-generating plants, in compliance with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which currently includes 10 mid-Atlantic and New England states.  Second, it changes the current Shoreline Resiliency Fund to the Community Flood Preparedness Fund, as a low-interest loan program for inland and coastal communities that experience recurrent flooding, with the program to be funded by the sale of emission allowances from the carbon cap-and-trade program.

These acts passed by relatively close margins, they’ll be complicated to implement, and they’ll probably continue to generate considerable debate.  You can find more details about these acts aand all General Assembly legislation at the Legislative Information System Web site, lis.virginia.gov, or from your local delegate or state senator.

SHIP’S BELL

Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close this show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

AUDIO NOTES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The sounds heard in this Virginia Water Radio episode were as follows:
Power line at Appalachian Power’s Claytor Lake Hydroelectric Project on the New River in Pulaski County, Va., July 13, 2013;
James River at Lynchburg, June 5, 2013;
Virginia House of Delegates session March 5, 2020, accessed at the archive of the House’s live video stream, online at https://virginiageneralassembly.gov/house/chamber/chamberstream.php;
Virginia Senate session March 6, 2020, accessed at the archive of the Senate’s live video steam, online at http://virginia-senate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (1 min./11 sec.) of the “Cripple Creek” arrangement/performance by Stewart Scales that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Scales and the group New Standard, with which Mr. Scales plays, is available online at http://newstandardbluegrass.com.

IMAGES

Water withdrawals for power generation by state in 2015.  Image from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) “Thermoelectric Power Water Use,” online at https://www.usgs.gov/mission-areas/water-resources/science/thermoelectric-power-water-use?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects, 4/27/20.


Solar panels on a neighborhood building in Blacksburg, Va., April 27, 2020.


Wind turbine in Wyoming, 2014.  Photo by Paul Cryan, made available on the U.S. Geologcial Survey (USGS) Multimedia Gallery, online at https://www.usgs.gov/products/multimedia-gallery/overview; specific URL for this image is https://www.usgs.gov/media/images/a-lone-wind-turbine, as of 4/27/20.

EXTRA INFORMATION ABOUT THE 2020 VIRGINIA CLEAN ECONOMY ACT and 2020 CLEAN ENERGY AND COMMUNITY FLOOD PREPAREDNESS ACT

Following is the (quite long) summary of 2020 Virginia General Assembly House Bill (HB) 1526 and the identical Senate Bill (SB) 851, called the “Virginia Clean Economy Act,” quoting the Virginia Legislative Information System, online at https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?201+sum+HB1526 (for HB 1526) and https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?201+bil+SB0851 (for SB 851), accessed 4/23/20.

“Virginia Clean Economy Act. Establishes a schedule by which Dominion Energy Virginia and American Electric Power are required to retire electric generating units located in the Commonwealth that emit carbon as a by-product of combusting fuel to generate electricity and by which they are required to construct, acquire, or enter into agreements to purchase generating capacity located in the Commonwealth using energy derived from sunlight or onshore wind. The measure replaces the existing voluntary renewable energy portfolio standard program (RPS Program) with a mandatory RPS Program. Under the mandatory RPS Program, Dominion Energy Virginia and American Electric Power are required to produce their electricity from 100 percent renewable sources by 2045 and 2050, respectively. A utility that does not meet its targets is required to pay a specific deficiency payment or purchase renewable energy certificates. The proceeds from the deficiency payments are to be deposited into an account administered by the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, which is directed to distribute specific percentages of the moneys to job training and renewable energy programs in historically economically disadvantaged communities, energy efficiency measures, and administrative costs. The measure requires the State Air Pollution Control Board to adopt regulations to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions from certain electricity generating units in the Commonwealth and authorizes the Board to establish, implement, and manage an auction program to sell allowances to carry out the purposes of such regulations and to utilize its existing regulations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electric power generating facilities. Among other things, the measure also (i) requires, by 2035, American Electric Power and Dominion Energy Virginia to construct or acquire 400 and 2,700 megawatts of energy storage capacity, respectively; (ii) establishes an energy efficiency standard under which each investor-owned incumbent electric utility is required to achieve incremental annual energy efficiency savings that start in 2022 at 0.5 percent for American Electric Power and 1.25 percent for Dominion Energy Virginia of the average annual energy retail sales by that utility in 2019 and increase those savings annually; (iii) exempts large general service customers from energy savings requirements; (iv) revises the incentive for electric utility energy efficiency programs; (v) provides that if the Commission finds in any triennial review that revenue reductions related to energy efficiency measures or programs approved and deployed since the utility's previous triennial review have caused the utility to earn more than 50 basis points below a fair combined rate of return on its generation and distribution services or, for any test period commencing after December 31, 2012, for Dominion Energy Virginia and after December 31, 2013, for American Electric Power, more than 70 basis points below a fair combined rate of return on its generation and distribution services, the Commission shall order increases to the utility's rates for generation and distribution services necessary to recover such revenue reductions; (vi) establishes requirements regarding the development by Dominion Energy Virginia of qualified offshore wind projects having an aggregate rated capacity of not less than 5,200 megawatts by January 1, 2034, and provides that in constructing any such facility, the utility shall (a) identify options for utilizing local workers; (b) identify the economic development benefits of the project for the Commonwealth, including capital investments and job creation; (c) consult with relevant governmental entities, including the Commonwealth's Chief Workforce Development Officer and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, on opportunities to advance the Commonwealth's workforce and economic development goals, including furtherance of apprenticeship and other workforce training programs; and (d) give priority to the hiring, apprenticeship, and training of veterans, local workers, and workers from historically economically disadvantaged communities; (vii) requires each utility to include, and the Commission to consider, in any application to construct a new generating facility the social cost of carbon, as determined by the Commission, as a benefit or cost, whichever is appropriate; (viii) removes provisions that authorize nuclear and offshore wind generating facilities to continue to be eligible for an enhanced rate of return on common equity during the construction phase of the facility and the approved first portion of its service life of between 12 and 25 years in the case of a facility utilizing nuclear power and for a service life of between five and 15 years in the case of a facility utilizing energy derived from offshore wind; (ix) removes a provision that declares that planning and development activities for new nuclear generation facilities are in the public interest; (x) increases the limit from 5,000 megawatts to 16,100 megawatts on those solar and onshore wind generation facilities that are declared to be in the public interest and increases the limit from 16 megawatts to 3,000 megawatts on those offshore wind generation facilities that are declared to be in the public interest; (xi) amends the net energy metering program by increasing the maximum capacity of renewable generation facilities of participating nonresidential eligible customer-generators from one to three megawatts, increases the cap on the capacity of generation from facilities from the customer's expected annual energy consumption to 150 percent of such amount for customers in Dominion Energy Virginia's service territory, increases each utility's systemwide cap from one percent of its adjusted Virginia peak-load forecast for the previous year to six percent of such amount, five percent of which is available to all customers and one percent of which is available only to low-income utility customers; (xii) establishes the Percentage of Income Payment Program (PIPP), which caps the monthly electric utility payment of low-income participants at six percent, or, if the participant's home uses electric heat, 10 percent, of the participant's household income, requires the Commission to issue its final order regarding the PIPP by December 31, 2020, and requires the Department of Housing and Community Development and the Department of Social Services to convene a stakeholder group to develop recommendations for implementing the PIPP and to submit the stakeholder recommendations to the Chairs of the House Committee on Labor and Commerce and the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor by December 1, 2020; (xiii) increases the cap on third party power purchase agreements to 500 megawatts for jurisdictional customers and 500 megawatts for nonjurisdictional customers of Dominion Energy Virginia and to 40 megawatts for customers of American Electric Power; (xiv) requires each investor-owned utility to consult with the Clean Energy Advisory Board in how best to inform low-income customers of opportunities to lower electric bills through access to solar energy; (xv) requires the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, in consultation with the Council on Environmental Justice, to prepare a report to the Chairs of the House Committee on Labor and Commerce and the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor that determines if the implementation of the measure imposes a disproportionate burden on historically economically disadvantaged communities; (xvi) requires the Secretary of Natural Resources and the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, in consultation with the State Corporation Commission and the Council on Environmental Justice and appropriate stakeholders, to report to the General Assembly by January 1, 2022, any recommendations on how to achieve 100 percent carbon-free electric energy generation by 2045 at least cost for ratepayers; and (xvii) provides that it is the policy of the Commonwealth that the State Corporation Commission, Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, Virginia Council on Environmental Justice, and other applicable state agencies, in the development of energy programs, job training programs, and placement of renewable energy facilities, shall consider those facilities and programs being to the benefit of low-income geographic areas and historically economically disadvantaged communities that are located near previously and presently permitted fossil fuel facilities or coal mines.”

Following is the summary of the 2020 Virginia General Assembly House Bill (HB) 981 and the identical Senate Bill (SB) 1207, called the “Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act,” quoting the Virginia Legislative Information System, online at https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?201+sum+HB981 (for HB 981) and https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?201+sum+SB1027 (for SB 1207), accessed 4/23/20.

“Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act; fund. Directs the Department of Environmental Quality to incorporate into regulations previously adopted by the State Air Pollution Control Board certain provisions establishing a carbon dioxide cap and trade program to reduce emissions released by electric generation facilities. Such provisions are required to comply with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative model rule. The bill authorizes the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality to establish, implement, and manage an auction program to sell allowances into a market-based trading program. The bill requires revenues from the sale of carbon allowances, to the extent permitted by Article X, Section 7 of the Constitution of Virginia, to be deposited in an interest-bearing account and to be distributed without further appropriation (i) to the Virginia Community Flood Preparedness Fund; (ii) to the Department of Housing and Community Development for low-income energy efficiency programs; (iii) for administrative expenses; and (iv) to the Department of Housing and Community Development in partnership with the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy to administer and implement low-income energy efficiency programs. The bill authorizes any locality using moneys in the Fund to provide a loan for a project in a low-income geographic area to forgive the principal of such loan, with the obligation of the locality to repay the loan remaining in effect. The bill also provides that if the Governor seeks to include the Commonwealth as a full participant in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the regulations shall require that certain purchasers be responsible for obtaining allowances under certain agreements. The bill authorizes the costs of allowances to be recovered by Phase I and Phase II Utilities from ratepayers and continues the Virginia Shoreline Resiliency Fund as the Virginia Community Flood Preparedness Fund for the purpose of creating a low-interest loan program to help inland and coastal communities that are subject to recurrent or repetitive flooding.”

SOURCES

Used for Audio

Andrew Cain, Northam signs sweeping measures on environment, voting, criminal justice, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4/12/20.

Lulia Gheorghiu, Gov. Northam signs clean energy bill in dramatic transition for Virginia amid dispute over customer costs, Utility Dive, 4/13/20.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), “Earth Observatory/The Water Cycle and Climate Change,” online at https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/features/Water/page3.php.

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, online at https://www.rggi.org/.

U.S. General Accountability Office, “Key Issues/Energy-Water Nexus,” online at https://www.gao.gov/key_issues/energy_water_nexus/issue_summary.

U.S. Geological Survey, “Water Use Data for Virginia,” online at https://waterdata.usgs.gov/va/nwis/water_use/.  According to this source, water withdrawals in Virginia in 2015 were about 5300 million gallons per day (MGD) for thermoelectric power generation, while withdrawals were about 1290 MGD combined for public water supply, industrial use, mining, livestock, aquaculture, and irrigation.

U.S. Geological Survey, “The Water-Energy Nexus: An Earth Science Perspective,” 4/10/15, online at https://www.usgs.gov/news/water-energy-nexus-earth-science-perspective.  This is the source of the quote used in this episode’s audio. The full quote is as follows: “Water and energy resources are linked in the most basic ways. Energy is required to withdraw, transport, and treat water for human consumption. A rural homeowner who looks out at his or her backyard might be able to see the electrical pump that withdraws water from underground; an urban dweller can appreciate the energy it takes to operate a large water treatment plant. At the same time, water is required to extract and process fossil fuels (e.g. mining coal or hydraulic fracturing for oil or natural gas); to grow biofuels (corn or sugar cane for ethanol); and to cool thermoelectric power plants that produce electricity.”

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, “Power Plants in Virginia,” online at https://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Air/PermittingCompliance/Permitting/PowerPlants.aspx.

Virginia Governor’s Office, “Governor Northam Signs Clean Energy Legislation,” 4/12/20 News Release, online at https://www.governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/all-releases/2020/april/headline-856056-en.html.

Virginia Legislative Information System, “[2020] Virginia Clean Economy Act 2020,” online at https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?201+sum+HB1526 (House Bill 1526) and https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?201+bil+SB0851 (Senate Bill 851); and “[2020] Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act,” online at https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?201+sum+HB981 (House Bill 981) and https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?201+sum+SB1027 (Senate Bill 1207).

Sarah Vogelsong, Virginia Clean Economy Act clears General Assembly, aided by beefed-up ratepayer protections, Virginia Mercury, 3/6/20.

For More Information about the Virginia General Assembly

The General Assembly’s main Web site is https://virginiageneralassembly.gov/.

During sessions, live streaming video is available, and archived recordings are available.  The House of Delegates live video stream Web site is https://virginiageneralassembly.gov/house/chamber/chamberstream.php; the Senate live video steam Web site is http://virginia-senate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3.  Live streaming of committee meetings also is available.  Information on live streaming of House committee meetings is online at https://publications.virginiageneralassembly.gov/display_publication/209; for Senate committee meetings, online at http://virginia-senate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3.

If you do not know your representatives or their contact information, you can use the online “Who’s My Legislator” service, available at http://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/.  You can find members’ contact information at these links:
House: http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/house/members/members.php;
Senate: https://apps.senate.virginia.gov/Senator/index.php.

Virginia Water Resources Research Center inventories of water-related legislation for each session from 1998 through 2020 are available online at https://www.vwrrc.vt.edu/virginia-water-legislation/.

Virginia Water Central News Grouper posts on the Virginia General Assembly are available online at https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=General+Assembly.  Items are categorized by the year of each session, from 2012 to 2020.

An overview of environmental legislation in the 2020 Virginia General Assembly is available in Virginia legislature wraps of session packed with environmental issues, by Jeremy Cox and Whitney Pipkin, Bay Journal, 3/17/20. 

RELATED VIRGINIA WATER RADIO EPISODES


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).  See particularly the “Community/Organizations” and “Energy” subject categories.

Following are links to other episodes on electric power generation.

Episode 410, 3-5-18 – on electricity regulation legislation in the 2018 Virginia General Assembly.
Episode 492, 9-30-19 – on Virginia governor’s executive order on renewable energy.
Episode 170, 7-15-13 – on hydroelectric power.

Following are links to other episodes on the Virginia General Assembly.

Episode 143, 1-7-13 – annual session preview.
Episode 147, 2-4-13 – on General Assembly committees.
Episode 196, 1-13-14 – annual session preview.
Episode 247, 1-5-15 – annual session preview, with special focus on state budget.
Episode 252, 2-9-15 – annual “voting on water” episode.
Episode 297, 1-4-16 – annual session preview.
Episode 302, 2-8-16 – annual “voting on water” episode.
Episode 350, 1-9-17 – annual session preview.
Episode 353, 1-30-17 – annual “voting on water” episode.
Episode 359, 3-13-17 – on General Assembly subcommittees.
Episode 402, 1-8-18 – annual session preview.
Episode 405, 1-29-18 – annual “voting on water” episode.
Episode 454, 1-7-19 – annual session preview.
Episode 460, 2-18-19 – annual “voting on water” episode.
Episode 506, 1-6-20 – annual session preview.
Episode 510, 2-3-20 – annual “voting on water” episode.

FOR VIRGINIA TEACHERS – RELATED STANDARDS OF LEARNING (SOLs) AND OTHER INFORMATION

Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources of information, or other materials in the Show Notes.

2010 Science SOLs

Grades K-6 Earth Patterns, Cycles, and Change Theme
3.9 – Water cycle, including sources of water, energy driving water cycle, water essential for living things, and water limitations and conservation.

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
3.11 – sources of energy.
4.9 – Virginia natural resources, including watersheds, water resources, and organisms.
6.9 – public policy decisions related to the environment (including resource management and conservation, land use decisions, hazard mitigation, and cost/benefit assessments).

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
6.7 – natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Virginia watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; health and safety issues; and water monitoring.

Life Science Course
LS.11 – relationships between ecosystem dynamics and human activity.

Physical Science Course
PS.6 – energy forms, transfer, and transformations.

Earth Science Course
ES.6 – renewable vs. non-renewable resources (including energy resources).
ES.8 – influences by geologic processes and the activities of humans on freshwater resources, including identification of groundwater and major watershed systems in Virginia, with reference to the hydrologic cycle.

2015 Social Studies SOLs
Grades K-3 Economics Theme
3.8 – understanding of cultures and of how natural, human, and capital resources are used for goods and services.

Virginia Studies Course
VS.10 – knowledge of government, geography, and economics in present-day Virginia.

United States History: 1865-to-Present Course
USII.9 – domestic and international issues during the second half of the 20th Century and the early 21st Century.

Civics and Economics Course
CE.7 – government at the state level.
CE.10 – public policy at local, state, and national levels.

World Geography Course
WG.2 – how selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface, including climate, weather, and how humans influence their environment and are influenced by it.
WG.4 – types and significance of natural, human, and capital resources.

Virginia and United States History Course
VUS.14 – political and social conditions in the 21st Century.

Government Course
GOVT.8 – state and local government organization and powers.
GOVT.9 – public policy process at local, state, and national levels.
GOVT.15 – role of government in Va. and U.S. economies, including examining environmental issues and property rights.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15 – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403, 1-15-18 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 406, 2-5-18 – on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19 – on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Episode 521 (4-20-20): Virginia Bluebells Color Springtime Streamsides

Click to listen to episode (4:29)

Sections below are the following:
Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Images
Sources
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.)


Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 4-17-20. 

TRANSCRIPT OF AUDIO


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of April 20, 2020.

SOUND – ~4 sec

That’s a recent, mid-afternoon sound of a carpenter bee gathering nectar from a patch of spring wildflowers and, at the same time, possibly helping to pollinate the plants.  While the coronavirus pandemic may have you staying mostly indoors this spring, outdoors the processes of emergence, growth, and reproduction are happening for many plants, including the species that was being visited by the bee you just heard.  Have a listen to that bee for about 15 more seconds, and see if you can guess this species of riverside-inhabiting, spring-blooming plant, whose name includes a familiar state, a primary color, and a ringing device.

SOUNDS - ~14 sec

If you guessed Virginia Bluebells, you’re right!  This plant is known for the striking blue color of its flowers, which actually start out pink and change color as the plant develops.  Virginia Bluebells are found over much of the eastern United States, including in Virginia’s mountains and Piedmont regions.  Their preferred native habitat is forested floodplains along rivers and streams.  In those places, the plants have rich, moist soils; water flow that can spread the plant’s seeds; and, as is adapted to by many spring wildflowers, a tree canopy that allows enough light in springtime for the plant to emerge and reproduce before the summer’s heavy shade develops.  Along some streams, such as the Potomac River tributaries Bull Run and Cedar Run in Prince William County, Virginia Bluebells have established such prolific and attractive populations that visitors flock to see the spring blooms.

Virginia Bluebells is a lovely, descriptive name, but this species have several other names, too, including Virginia Cowslip, Roanoke Bells, Gentleman’s Breeches, Lungwort, and Oysterleaf.  By any name, this plant occupies a significant place along waterways and in plant-lovers’ opinions.  As stated by Nancy Hugo in her account of Virginia Bluebells as the Virginia Native Plant Society’s 1989 Wildflower of the Year, quote, “Few blues in nature rival the blue of Virginia bluebells, and a single clump in a garden or a stand of thousands along a stream is a beautiful sight.”

We close with some music appropriate for Virginia Bluebells and other spring wildflowers.  Here’s about 25 seconds of “Flowers of the Forest,” by the longtime Blacksburg- and Roanoke, Va.-based band, No Strings Attached.

MUSIC - ~ 23 sec – instrumental

SHIP’S BELL

Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

AUDIO NOTES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The scientific name of Virginia Bluebells is Mertensia virginica.

The large carpenter bee (a species in the genus Xylocopa) was recorded by Virginia Water Radio in Blacksburg, Va., April 16, 2020.  Thanks to Eric Day, Virginia Tech Department of Entomology, for his help in identification of this insect.

“Flowers of the Forest,” from the 2003 album “Old Friend’s Waltz,” is copyright by No Strings Attached and Enessay Music, used with permission.  More information about No Strings Attached is available from their Web site, http://enessay.com/.  This music was previously used by Virginia Water Radio in Episode 212, 5-5-14 (on spring wildflowers) and Episode 318, 5-30-16 (on Memorial Day’s Civil War origin of decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers).

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at http://www.bencosgrove.com.

IMAGES


Virginia Bluebells in a Blacksburg, Va., residential yard, April 17, 2020.

 
Carpenter bee visiting a Virginia Bluebell blossom in a Blacksburg, Va., residential yard, April 15, 2020.

 
Virginia Bluebells near the South Fork Roanoke River (in background) in Montgomery County, Va., April 2019.  Photo courtesy of Joyce Graham, used with permission.

SOURCES

Used for Audio

Carol Gracie, Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast: A Natural History, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J., 2012; accessed online at this link, 4/18/20.  Information on Virginia Bluebells is in the “Borage Family” section, pages 226-227.

Nancy Hugo, “Wildflower of the Year 1989 – Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica),” Virginia Native Plant Society, online at https://vnps.org/wildflowers-of-the-year/1989-virginia-bluebells/.

John Hilty, “Illinois Wildflowers/Descriptions of Families, Sub-Families, and Tribes of Long-Tongued Bees,” undated, online at https://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/flower_insects/files/lt_bee.htm.

Iowa State University Department of Entomology, “BugGuide/Genus Xylocopa - Large Carpenter Bees,” online at https://bugguide.net/node/view/3508.

Maureen McNabb, “Virginia Bluebells Bloom at Ginter” (March 28, 2018), Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond, Va., online at https://www.lewisginter.org/mertensia-virginica/.

Leslie Middleton, Virginia riverside trails a rhapsody of bluebells, Bay Journal, 3/5/20.

Missouri Botanical Garden, Mertensia virginica, online at http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=l200.

Prince William [Va.] Conservation Alliance, “Bluebell Festival at Merrimac Farm WMA,” online at http://www.pwconserve.org/merrimacfarm/bluebellfestival/.

Gloria Schoenholtz, “Virginia Wildflowers,” online at http://virginiawildflowers.org/.  The Virginia Bluebell entry is online at https://virginiawildflowers.org/2015/04/09/virginia-bluebells/.

St. Olaf College, “Virginia Bluebells,” online at https://wp.stolaf.edu/naturallands/woodlands/ephemerals/virginiabluebells/.

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, “The Natural Communities of Virginia/Classification of Ecological Groups and Community Types (as of March 2020)/Rich Cove Forests,” online at https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/natural-communities/nctb1.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area,” online at https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wma/merrimac-farm/.  See “Other Activities” for a description of the Virginia Bluebells along Cedar Run in this wildlife management area in Prince William County.

Alan S. Weakly, J. Christopher Ludwig, and John F. Townsend, Flora of Virginia, BRIT Press, Fort Worth, Tex., 2012.  The Flora of Virginia Project Web site is online at http://www.floraofvirginia.org/.

For More Information about Plants in Virginia and Elsewhere

Oscar W. Gupton and Fred C. Swope, Wild Orchids of the Middle Atlantic States, University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, 1986; Wildflowers of Tidewater Virginia, University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, 1982; and Wildflowers of the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains, University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, 1979.

Marion Lobstein, “Spring Wildflowers: Ecological Factors,” by Marion Lobstein (undated), published by the Botanical Society of Washington, D.C., online at www.botsoc.org/SpringWildflowerBackground.doc‎.

U.S. Department of Agriculture/Natural Resources Conservation Service, “Plants Data Base,” online at https://plants.usda.gov/.

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation/Natural Heritage Division, “Invasive Plant Species of Virginia,” online at http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/invspinfo.

Virginia Department of Forestry, Common Native Trees of Virginia, 2016, available online at http://www.dof.virginia.gov/infopubs/#ForestEducation.

Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, “Virginia Tech Dendrology Fact Sheets,” online at http://dendro.cnre.vt.edu/dendrology/factsheets.cfm.

Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, “vTree app,” online at https://dendro.cnre.vt.edu/dendrology/vtree.htm.

Virginia Native Plant Society, online at http://vnps.org/.  The Society provides information about native species and natural plant habitats.

RELATED VIRGINIA WATER RADIO EPISODES

All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).   See particularly the “Plants” subject category.

Following are links to two other episodes on spring-flowering plants.

Episode 212, 5-5-14 – on spring wildflowers generally, featuring “Flowers of the Forest” by No Strings Attached.
Episode 216, 6-2-14 – on rhododendrons, featuring “Rhododendron Ridge” by The Floorboards.

FOR VIRGINIA TEACHERS – RELATED STANDARDS OF LEARNING (SOLs) AND OTHER INFORMATION

Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources of information, or other materials in the Show Notes.

2013 Music SOLs

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2010 English SOLs

Reading Theme
8.5, 9.4, 10.4, 11.4 – symbols, imagery, figurative language, and other literary devices.

2010 Science SOLs

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
4.9 – Virginia natural resources, including watersheds, water resources, and organisms.

Grades K-6 Life Processes Theme
K.7 – basic needs and processes of plants and animals.
4.4 – basic plant anatomy and processes.

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
2.5 – living things as part of a system, including habitats.
3.6 – ecosystems, communities, populations, shared resources.
6.7 – natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Virginia watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; health and safety issues; and water monitoring.

Life Science Course
LS.8 – community and population interactions, including food webs, niches, symbiotic relationships.
LS.9 – adaptations for particular ecosystems’ biotic and abiotic factors, including characteristics of land, marine, and freshwater environments.

Biology Course
BIO.8 – dynamic equilibria and interactions within populations, communities, and ecosystems; including nutrient cycling, succession, effects of natural events and human activities, and analysis of the flora, fauna, and microorganisms of Virginia ecosystems.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15 – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403, 1-15-18 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 406, 2-5-18 – on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19 – on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Episode 520 (4-13-20): Waterthrushes are Water-based Warblers

Click to listen to episode (4:12)

Sections below are the following:
Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Images
Extra Information
Sources
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.)


Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 4-10-20.

TRANSCRIPT OF AUDIO

From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of April 13, 2020.

MUSIC – ~14 sec – instrumental.

This week, that excerpt of “The Waterthrush,” by Andrew VanNorstrand, opens an episode about the two water-related songbirds in Virginia and North America called waterthrushes: the Louisiana Waterthrush and the Northern Waterthrush.  Here’s a short medley of the songs of these two birds, from recordings by Lang Elliott in the Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs.  You’ll hear the medley twice, for about 15 seconds altogether; in each pairing, the Louisiana song comes first, followed by the Northern song.

SOUNDS - ~14 sec.

In Virginia, the Louisiana Waterthrush is a common summer resident statewide, while the Northern can be found in Virginia’s higher elevations in the summer; both may occur across the Commonwealth during spring and fall migration.

Despite the “thrush” in their name, waterthrushes are not part of the bird family of thrushes and allies—the family that includes, for example, the Wood Thrush, Robin, and Eastern Bluebird—although waterthrushes do resemble some thrushes because of their streaked or spotted breast.  Rather, waterthrushes are classified in the family of New World Warblers, also called Wood Warblers.

In contrast, the “water” part of the waterthrush name fits the habitat of each species.  The Louisiana is found near woodland streams, while the Northern prefers areas of standing water such as bogs, swamps, and other wetlands.  Both feed on a variety of aquatic insects and other invertebrates as well as small fish and amphibians.

As is true with many warblers, waterthrushes may be heard more often than seen, and their songs have evoked appreciative human comments.  Here’s how the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s “All About Birds” Web site describes the songs and habitats of these birds: “The Northern Waterthrush is often an unseen singer whose rich, sweet whistles lure listeners into its attractive habitats, the wooded swamps and bogs of northern North America”; and “The ringing song of the Louisiana Waterthrush, in cadence so like the rushing streams that are its home, is one of the first signs of spring in eastern North America.”

Thanks to Lang Elliott for permission to use the waterthrush sounds.  Thanks also to Andrew VanNorstrand for permission to use this week’s music, and we close with about 15 more seconds of “The Waterthrush.”

MUSIC – ~15 sec.

SHIP’S BELL

Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close this show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

AUDIO NOTES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The waterthrush sounds were from the Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs-Eastern Region CD set, by Lang Elliott with Donald and Lillian Stokes (Time Warner Audio Books, copyright 1997), used with permission of Lang Elliott.  Lang Elliot’s work is available online at the “Music of Nature” Web site, http://www.musicofnature.org/.

“The Waterthrush” (part of the medley “The Waterthrush/Origami Reel”), from the 2019 album “That We Could Find a Way to Be,” is copyright by Andrew VanNorstrand, used with permission.  More information about Andrew VanNorstrand is available online at https://www.andrewvannorstrand.com/.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (1 min./11 sec.) of the “Cripple Creek” arrangement/performance by Stewart Scales that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Scales and the group New Standard, with which Mr. Scales plays, is available online at http://newstandardbluegrass.com.

IMAGES

Louisiana Waterthrush, photographed in Madison County, Virginia, March 20, 2020. Photo by Diane Lepkowski, made available on iNaturalist at https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/41471252 (as of 4-13-20) for use under Creative Commons license “Attribtution-NonCommercial 4.0.” Information about this Creative Commons license is available online at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.

 
Northern Waterthrush, photographed in Fairfax County, Virginia, April 25, 2016. Photo by Ed Hass, made available on iNaturalist at https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/34355916 (as of 4-13-20) for use under Creative Commons license “Attribtution-NonCommercial 4.0.” Information about this Creative Commons license is available online at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.

 
Map of the breeding-season and winter occurrence in Virginia of the Louisiana Waterthrush. Map accessed at the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ “Fish and Wildlife Information Service,” online at https://vafwis.dgif.virginia.gov/fwis/booklet.html?&bova=040332&Menu=_.Taxonomy&version=18148.



Map of the breeding-season and winter occurrence in Virginia of the Northern Waterthrush. Map accessed at the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ “Fish and Wildlife Information Service,” online at https://vafwis.dgif.virginia.gov/fwis/booklet.html?&bova=040331&Menu=_.Taxonomy&version=18148.

EXTRA INFORMATION ABOUT WATERTHRUSHES IN VIRGINIA

The Louisiana Waterthrush’s scientific name is Parkesia motacilla.

The Northern Waterthrush’s scientific name is Parkesia noveboracensis.

The following information on the Louisiana Waterthrush is from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ “Fish and Wildlife Information Service,” online at https://vafwis.dgif.virginia.gov/fwis/booklet.html?&bova=040332&Menu=_.Taxonomy&version=18148.

Physical Description: “Length [measured from tip of bill to tip of tail] is 5.25 to 6.25 inches; …bill larger than Northern Waterthrush. Upperparts clove-brown; a clear white line over the eye; underparts white, the breast and sides streaked with hair-brown; throat unspotted.”

Reproduction: “Nest is built in a cavity in the bank of a stream or among upturned roots of a fallen tree. A clutch of 4 to 7 eggs is laid in May or June. …Usually only 1 brood is raised a year.”

Behavior: “Uses ground gleaning to catch insects. Territory size is usually 5 to 20 acres, depending on habitat and availibility of water.”

The following information on the Northern Waterthrush is from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ “Fish and Wildlife Information Service,” online at https://vafwis.dgif.virginia.gov/fwis/booklet.html?&bova=040331&Menu=_.Taxonomy&version=18148.

Physical Description: Length [measured from tip of bill to tip of tail] is 5.25 to 6.25 inches…. Adults’ upperparts olive-brown; a buffy white stripe over the eye; underparts pale yellow, streaked and spotted…; wings and tail…without markings. Usually found on the ground near water, tilting body and tail up and down constantly.”

Reproduction: Nest is usually built in a cavity on the ground, among roots of [a] fallen tree, at [the] base of [a] moss-covered stump, under [a] mossy log, or in [a] mossy brook bank. Clutch of 4 or 5 eggs is laid in May or June. Incubation lasts 14 days and there is usually on one brood per year.”

Behavior: “Territory size is usually 1 to 3 acres. Uses ground gleaning to forage for insects. Also may take crustaceans and mollusks.”

SOURCES

Used for Audio

John James Audubon, “Louisiana Waterthrush,” in Birds of America, Plate 19, accessed from the Audubon Society, online at https://www.audubon.org/birds-of-america/louisiana-water-thrush.

Cornell University Lab of Ornithology, “All About Birds,” online at http://www.allaboutbirds.org.  The Louisiana Waterthrush entry is online at https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Louisiana_Waterthrush.  The Northern Waterthrush entry is online at https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Northern_Waterthrush.  Information on the family of New World Warblers, or Parulidae, is online at https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/browse/taxonomy/Parulidae.

Cornell University Lab of Ornithology and American Ornithologists’ Union, “Birds of North America Online,” online at http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna (subscription required).  The Louisiana Waterthrush entry is online at https://birdsoftheworld.org/bow/species/louwat/cur/introduction.  The Northern Waterthrush entry is online at https://birdsoftheworld.org/bow/species/norwat/cur/introduction.

Encylcopedia Britannica, “Wood Warbler,” online at https://www.britannica.com/animal/wood-warbler; and “Thrush,” online at https://www.britannica.com/animal/thrush-bird.

Chandler S. Robbins et al., A Guide to Field Identification of Birds of North America, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2001.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Fish and Wildlife Information Service,” online at http://vafwis.org/fwis/?Title=VaFWIS+Species+Information+By+Name&vUT=Visitor.  The Louisiana Waterthrush entry is online at https://vafwis.dgif.virginia.gov/fwis/booklet.html?&bova=040332&Menu=_.Taxonomy&version=18148.  The Northern Waterthrush entry is online at https://vafwis.dgif.virginia.gov/fwis/booklet.html?&bova=040331&Menu=_.Taxonomy&version=18148.

For More Information about Birds in Virginia and Elsewhere

Cornell University Lab of Ornithology, “Merlin Photo ID.”  The application for mobile devices allows users to submit a bird photograph to get identification of the bird. Information is available online at http://merlin.allaboutbirds.org/.

Cornell University Lab of Ornithology and the Audubon Society, “eBird,” online at http://ebird.org/content/ebird/.  Here you can find locations of species observations made by contributors, and you can sign up to contribute your own observations.

Stan Tekiela, Birds of Virginia Field Guide, Adventure Publications, Inc., Cambridge, Minn., 2002.

University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, “Animal Diversity Web,” online at https://animaldiversity.org/.

Virginia Society of Ornithology, online at http://www.virginiabirds.org/.  The Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to the study, conservation, and enjoyment of birds in the Commonwealth.

Xeno-canto Foundation Web site, online at http://www.xeno-canto.org/.  This site provides bird songs from around the world.

RELATED VIRGINIA WATER RADIO EPISODES

All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html). See particularly the “Birds” subject category.

Following is a link to a previous episode on warblers.

Episode 157, 4-15-13 – Warblers Announce Spring Bird Migration.

FOR VIRGINIA TEACHERS – RELATED STANDARDS OF LEARNING (SOLs) AND OTHER INFORMATION

Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s script, sources of information, or other materials in the Show Notes.

2013 Music SOLs

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2010 Science SOLs

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
4.9 – Virginia natural resources, including watersheds, water resources, and organisms.

Grades K-6 Life Processes Theme
1.5 – animals’ basic needs and distinguishing characteristics.
3.4 – behavioral and physiological adaptations.

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
2.5 – living things as part of a system, including habitats.
3.5 – food webs.
3.6 – ecosystems, communities, populations, shared resources.
6.7 – natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Virginia watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; health and safety issues; and water monitoring.

Life Science Course
LS.4 – organisms’ classification based on features.
LS.6 – ecosystem interactions, including the water cycle, other cycles, and energy flow.
LS.8 – community and population interactions, including food webs, niches, symbiotic relationships.

Biology Course
BIO.8 – dynamic equilibria and interactions within populations, communities, and ecosystems; including nutrient cycling, succession, effects of natural events and human activities, and analysis of the flora, fauna, and microorganisms of Virginia ecosystems.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.

Following are links to Virginia Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15 – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403, 1-15-18 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 406, 2-5-18 – on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19 – on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.