Large Industrial Sludge Land-application Permit in Six Virginia Counties Approved by SWCB in December 2014

At its quarterly meeting on December 11, 2014, the Virginia State Water Control Board (SWCB) approved the permit application by Synagro, LLC (headquartered in Baltimore, Md.; online at to land-apply residual solid materials from industrial wastewater treatment to about 16,042 acres of farmland in Goochland, King & Queen, King William, New Kent, Prince George, and Surry counties.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s 12/11/14 article on the SWCB’s decision, the material is to come from the Tyson Foods poultry-processing plant in Hanover County, the RockTenn Company paper mill at West Point in King William County, and the Smithfield Foods hog-processing plant in Isle of Wight County.

The permit application was controversial in the affected counties and underwent an extended public-comment process, including three public-comment periods held by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) (Dec. 2013-Jan. 2014; Mar.-Apr. 2014; and Sep.-Nov. 2014) and three SWCB/DEQ public hearings (two in April 2014 and one in October 2014).

When available, minutes of the Dec. 11, 2014, SWCB meeting will be posted at the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for the meeting, online at

State panel approves the spreading of industrial sludge, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 12/11/14.
Delegate addresses DEQ regarding sludge application, The Mechanicsville Local, 9/17/14.  [Letter from Del. Christopher K. Peace, R-97, to Robert Dunn, chairman, Virginia State Water Control Board, and David K. Paylor, director, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, requesting that no permit be issued until new state regulations were issued.]
Hanover Board of Supervisors sends letter opposing sludge, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 9/16/14.  [Letter asked for a delay in Synagro permit until DEQ issues regulations on industrial sludge.]
The Virginia DEQ failed to provide notification to local counties about industrial sludge, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 9/9/14.
Industrial sludge application pulled [in Hanover County; one of 7 counties originally involved], Richmond Times-Dispatch, 8/27/14.
Sludge: Risk Or Resource?, Water Online, 8/27/14.
New Kent supervisors vote to send letter opposing DEQ permit for Synagro, New Kent-Charles City Chronicle, 8/12/14.

Water and Land Use in Virginia State Government News Releases for Dec. 12—Dec. 18, 2014: Meat-processing in Lynchburg, Distillery in Williamsburg, Ag/Forestry Grants, Apples to India, New Year’s Day in State Parks, Ag. Management Plan Grants, Water Quality Report, and Shellfish Grounds Leasing

Following are titles and short excerpts from Virginia state government news releases for December 12—December 18, 2014, that relate to water resources or to other natural resource uses that may affect water.  To access the full text of any release, click on the release title or (if that link doesn’t work) click on the Web address beside each agency name to go to that agency’s archive of releases.


Governor McAuliffe Announces New Jobs, Meat Processing Facility for Lynchburg, 12/18/14.  Excerpt: “…Seven Hills Food, LLC will revitalize and open a meat-processing facility in the City of Lynchburg. The company, a locally-sourced meat processing operation, will invest $3 million and create 43 new jobs in Lynchburg, while committing to purchase 100 percent Virginia-grown beef and pork.  The Commonwealth of Virginia is partnering with the City of Lynchburg and Seven Hills Food on this project through the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund.” 

Governor McAuliffe Announces New Production Facility, Jobs for Virginia’s Growing Craft Beverage Industry, 12/17/14.  Excerpt: “Copper Fox Distillery…will open its second malting, production, aging, and tasting facility in the City of Williamsburg.  The company, the first distillery in the world to use apple- and cherry-wood smoke to flavor their malt, will invest over $2 million and create 28 new jobs in Williamsburg, while sourcing 100 percent of its grain from Virginia agricultural producers.  The Commonwealth of Virginia is partnering with the City of Williamsburg and Copper Fox Distillery on this project through the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund (AFID).”

Governor McAuliffe Announces Third Round of Agriculture, Forestry Planning Grants, 12/16/14.  Excerpt: “Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today the award of four planning grants from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund (AFID).  Three local projects in Fauquier, Buckingham, and Charles City counties and one regional partnership consisting of the Commonwealth Regional Council, and Appomattox, Buckingham, and Cumberland counties, have been awarded more than $61,000 to support the growth of agricultural and forestry projects in the Commonwealth.  The AFID planning grant program encourages local governments to promote agriculture and forestry and incorporate the needs of these important industries into their long-term strategic economic development planning efforts.”

Governor McAuliffe Announces Opening of Indian Market for Virginia Apple Exports, 12/12/14.  Excerpt: “Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced new export sales of Virginia apples to India….  Specifically, this year Virginia has exported just over $1.6 million in apples to India as of September, up from zero in late 2011 when Virginia opened its representative trade office in India. … Agricultural and forestry exports from Virginia reached a record high of $2.85 billion in 2013.   The Indian market is a relatively small, but potentially significant, emerging market for Virginia’s agricultural and forestry industries.   For example, exports to India were just over $5 million in 2013 and, as of September of this year, that figure has grown by 50 percent to just under $8 million.   Apple exports from Virginia to India in 2013 represented over one third of the state’s total apple exports worldwide while the year-to-date sales as of September to India account for more than 60 percent of total apple exports.”


Virginia State Parks to celebrate New Year with First Day Hikes, contests and more, 12/17/14.  Excerpt: On Jan. 1, all 36 parks will offer hiking opportunities, contests, and special events.  This is the fourth year Virginia State Parks [] has participated in this America’s State Parks initiative to get people outdoors and into parks. … For all contest details, visit  A complete list of First Day Hike offerings is available at”

Grants awarded for agricultural resource management plans, 12/12/14. Excerpt: “Five grants will be awarded to develop resource management plans for more than 47,000 acres of Virginia farmland in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Resource management plans are integral to Virginia’s strategy to clean up rivers, streams and the Chesapeake Bay. In addition to expanding farmers’ use of conservation practices, the program will provide better data and tracking capability for the practices in place. Funding for the contracts has been allocated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Chesapeake Bay Regulatory and Accountability Program. The grant recipients responded to a Sept. 1 request for proposals from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.”


Virginia issues 2014 report on water quality, 12/17/14.  Excerpt: “Virginia’s 2014 water quality report provides detailed information on more than 1,200 watersheds in the Commonwealth…. This draft report contains an assessment of the latest water quality conditions using data collected from January 2007 to December 2012, as well as the statewide list of impaired waters. … Similar to the last report in 2012, DEQ will add about 830 miles of streams and rivers, 360 acres of lakes, and 4 square miles of estuaries to the impaired waters list because of further monitoring. This would bring the total number of cleanup plans DEQ must develop to 1,830. The most common impairment in rivers and streams is from bacteria pollution, followed by reduced levels of oxygen in certain waters. … Waters also are being removed from the list. For example, a delisting may be appropriate if new data indicate that a water quality standard is being attained. This can be a result of successful pollution control efforts, or it may occur independently of formal cleanup plans. For the 2014 assessment, DEQ has proposed removing 335 waters from the list; the most common delisted impairment is bacteria.”


Shellfish grounds lease application information online, 12/12/14:  Excerpt: “The Commission has added a new Web site feature that displays notices and associated location maps for pending applications for proposed shellfish leases. Shellfish grounds leasing requests have greatly increased over the last three years and, in addition to providing for the already required Code of Virginia notice requirements, this new feature will provide the public with another easy way to access pending lease application information and locations.” The Pending Oyster Lease Applications Web site is

No releases during this period:





You’re Invited to Start the New Year at a Virginia State Park

On New Year’s Day 2015,  Virginia’s 36 state parks parks will offer hiking opportunities, contests, and special events as part of a nationwide initiative by America’s State Parks to get people outdoors and into parks.  A list of New Year’s Day hike offerings is available online at  Details about the day’s contests are available online at

The Web site for Virginia State Parks is

The Web site for America’s State Parks is

Source: Virginia State Parks to celebrate New Year with First Day Hikes, contests and more, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation News Release, 12/17/14.

035 Ghost Crab at Kiptopeke SP Oct7

Ghost crab at Virginia’s Kiptopeke State Park in Northampton County, October 7, 2007.


Weather, Climate, and Virginia’s Hampton Roads Area to be the Focus of a Two-part Workshop Series, Jan. 27-28, 2015 and Feb. 24, 2015.

In January and February 2015, several federal, state, and private entitites are organizing a Weather and Climate Workshop Series at two locations in the Hampton Roads, Va., area.

Session 1, “Weather-Ready Hampton Roads,” will be January 27-28, at the Nauticus science and technology center in Norfolk (

Session 2, “Climate Change in Virginia, will be February 24 at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) in Gloucester Point (

The workshop series aims to bring together educators and scientists to explore the science that drives our understanding of weather and climate, talk about ways weather and climate affect the Hampton Roads region, and discuss ways to incorporate that science into education programming for students, teachers, and the general public.

The workshop series is organized by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Chesapeake Bay Office’s Environmental Science Training Center (, along with the National Weather Service, Nauticus, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (CBNERR), and VIMS.

More information and registration are available at this link.

Thanks to the Virginia Water Monitoring Council for providing some of the information in this post.

Virginia Water-related Government Meetings for Dec. 19, 2014-Jan. 12, 2015

For more information, click on underlined meeting dates.  Click here for the Commonwealth Calendar listing of all government meetings open to the public, and here for the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall listing of all government meetings of a regulatory nature.

For other, non-governmental, events, please see the Water Central News Grouper post, Quick Guide to Virginia Water-related Events


1/6/15, 11 a.m.: Land Conservation Foundation Board of Trustees.  At the West Reading Room of the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond.

1/9/15, 10 a.m.: Waste Management Board.  At the Department of Environmental Quality, 629 East Main Street in Richmond.

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For meetings of legislative committees and commissions during General Assembly sessions (regular and special), see; use the drop-down menu on the left to pick the session of interest (current or past).  Links to information about General Assembly commissions, councils, and special interim committees coordinated by the Division of Legislative Services is available online at

1/14/15, noon: Virginia General Assembly convenes. Scheduled adjournment of this year’s short session is February 28, with the reconvened (“veto”) session on April 15.  Live video streams of floor sessions are available at for the House, and for the Senate.

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For more information about TMDLs in Virginia, click here for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality TMDL Web site; click on “Public Notices” in the menu to the left to access upcoming meetings and public-comment periods.  A search tool to find approved TMDL reports is available at

1/8/14, 9 a.m., on the TMDL implementation plan for bacterial impairments in The Gulf, Barlow Creek, Jacobus Creek, Hungars Creek, and Mattawoman Creek, in the Chesapeake Bay watershed in Northampton County.  At the Board Room of the Northampton County Administration Building, 16404 Courthouse Road in Eastville.

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(topics listed alphabetically)

Air-Water Connections
12/19/14, 10 a.m.: Air Pollution Control Board/Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public hearing on a request for a permit amendment by Enviva Pellets Southampton LLC to modify its wood pellet fuel manufacturing facility to allow for up to ten percent softwood in the wood feedstock mixture used to manufacture the wood pellets.  At Paul D. Camp Community College, Room 129, 100 North College Drive in Franklin.  The permit addresses several air pollutants that can eventually affect water resources, including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulates, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

1/12/15, 6:30 p.m.: Air Pollution Control Board/Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public hearing on a request by VEPCO to modify its permit for the Brunswick County Electric Power Plant. At the Meherrin Public Library/Brunswick Branch, 133 Hicks Street in Lawrenceville.  The requested modification would increase permitted emissions of carbon monoxide by 120 tons/year due to re-defining startup and shutdown parameters.  The public comment period runs 12/10/14 through 1/27/15.

12/19/14, 10 a.m.: Department of Environmental Quality Technical Advisory Committee meeting on amendment and reissuance of the Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (VPDES) General Permit Regulation for Seafood Processing Facilities.  At the Department of Environmental Quality’s Piedmont Regional Office, 4949-A Cox Road in Glen Allen.  The relevant section of the Virginia Administrative Code is 9 VAC 25-115.  The notice of intended regulatory action (NOIRA) was published in the Virginia Register of Regulations on July 14, 2014.

Water Quality Regulations and Standards
1/8/15, 9:30 a.m.: Advisory Group on the Virginia Water Protection Permit (VWP) Regulation and associated VWP General Permit Regulations.  At the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Piedmont Regional Office Training Room, 4949-A Cox Road in Glen Allen.  The advisory group is assisting the DEQ and State Water Control Board in development of possible amendments to these regulations, specifically the following Virginia Administrative Code sections and subjects 9 VAC 25-210: Virginia Water Protection Permit Regulation; 9 VAC 25-660: General Permit for Impacts Less Than One-Half Acre; 9 VAC 25-670: General Permit for Facilities and Activities of Utility and Public Service Companies Regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or the State Corporation Commission and Other Utility Line Activities; 9 VAC 25-680: General Permit for Linear Transportation Projects; 9 VAC 25-690: General Permit for Impacts from Development Activities.  The Notice of Intended Regulatory Action (NOIRA) was published in the Virginia Register of Regulations on June 2, 2014.  More information about the proposed regulatory actions is available online at

Natural History of the Great Smoky Mountains Course Offered by Virginia Tech Aug. 9-15, 2015

If you’re interested in the Great Smoky Mountains or the southern Appalachians in general–the water, air, land, people, plants, wildlife, and more–consider the Virginia Tech course, Natural History of the Great Smoky Mountains, August 9-15, 2015.  This three-credit course is led by Dr. Donald Linzey, an adjunct instructor in the the Virginia Tech Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation and the author of A Natural History Guide to Great Smoky Mountains National Park (University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, 2008).

People who are not degree-seeking Virginia Tech students may still participate in the course as special, non-degree students (an application process to Virginia Tech for that status is required).  Waived or reduced tuition fees are possible for Virginia citizen seniors and K-12 teachers.

For more information, contact Dr. Linzey at (540) 951-9717 or

Virginia Precipitation and Stream Flow for the 7-day Period Ending December 16, 2014, Plus a Mid-Month Drought Assessment

Below are images showing precipitation in Virginia and other areas of the southeastern United States, and stream flow in Virginia, over the seven-day period ending December 16, 2014.  Also below is a map showing the status of drought indicators in Virginia as of December 17, 2014.  The Virginia Water Resources Research Center thanks the agencies mentioned below for providing precipitation and stream-flow information and images.  For monthly reviews of precipitation, stream flow, and drought, please see the News Grouper posts available at this link:  For more information on current and historical surface-water and groundwater conditions in Virginia, please see the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Virginia Science Center’s Web site,


The following maps show southeastern U.S. precipitation amounts (top map) and the percent of normal precipitation for the given location at this time of year (bottom map) over the seven-day period ending December 16, 2014.   The maps were accessed on 12/17/14 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Southeast Regional Climate Center, located at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill; online at  As of 12/17/14, these data are provisional (needing to be verified for accuracy and subject to possible revision).

Precip Dec16


For another precipitation-information source: The National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service,, provides maps showing precipitation nationwide or by state for specific days, months, or years. The site also has the capability to show county boundaries. As an example, shown below is the map of one-day precipitation ending at 7 a.m. EST on December 17, 2014. (Please note that UTC, the time shown on the map below, is five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time and four hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time.)
Precip National Dec17



Stream Flow

Average Virginia stream flow over week ending December 16, 2014, is indicated in the map below, from the U.S. Geological Survey WaterWatch for Virginia (online at, accessed 12/17/14).  The map compares the previous week’s average stream flows at about 140 stream-gaging stations (in Virginia and just beyond the state border) to the normal flow levels for that week over the historical record for each gaging station.  The color codes/percentile classes used by USGS to compared flows to historical records for the month are as follows (higher the percentile and the “bluer” the color, the higher the flow):

KEEP ON DESK _ Stream Flow ChartStreams Dec 16





Drought Update

The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent Drought Status Report on December 16, 2014.  The report typically includes information from some or all of the following agencies: University of Virginia Climatology Office, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the Virginia departments of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Health, and Environmental Quality.  Task Force reports and other current drought-status information are available online at

Here is the first paragraph of the December 16 report, summarizing statewide conditions: “The dry conditions across parts of central and eastern Virginia that have persisted for several months were moderated by precipitation events during late November and early December. Consequently, streamflows at some gaging stations in these regions are now within normal ranges. Below normal streamflows still persist in parts of eastern Virginia, however. Below normal groundwater levels also persist in several climate-response observation wells in these areas. A significant continuation of dry conditions through the winter months will negatively affect the normal ground water recharge pattern.”

The Drought Monitoring Task Force also produces a daily map rating groundwater levels (GW), precipitation deficits (Prcp), reservoir storage (Res), and stream flow (Flow) conditions across the Commonwealth. In each area, a color code indicates “normal,” “watch,” “warning,” or “emergency conditions.” Shown below is the December 8, 2014, map (the most recent one available on 12/17/14). A given day’s current map and more information on the ratings are available the Task Force Web site listed above.

Drought VA Dec8