Following are headlines and notes for a selection of water-news stories in, nearby, or related to Virginia from the period September 20-October 8, 2013. The headlines are grouped by topics and—within those groups—from newest to oldest. Explanatory notes have been added in brackets after the publication and date. Unless otherwise noted, all places mentioned are in Virginia. As of 10/10/13, all headlines listed below have working hyperlinks to take you to the full article.
Aquatic Life and Habitats
Great blue herons make huge comeback, survey shows, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 9/30/13. In late September 2013, scientists with the Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William and Mary and at Virginia Commonwealth University released results of a survey during May-June 2013 of Great Blue Herons in the Chesapeake Bay region of Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. The survey found over 14,000 pairs of nesting birds in 407 colonies, compared to only 12 colonies found during surveys in the 1960s.
Chesapeake Bay Clean Up/Restoration
Farmers’ groups appeal decision by U.S. judge in Pa. to uphold EPA’s Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan, Association Press, as published in Washington Post, 10/8/13. On October 8, 2013, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Corn Growers Association announced that they had filed an appeal of the September 13, 2013, federal district court opinion that upheld the U.S. EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) pollution-reduction plan, issued in December 2010. For more on this story, please see the 9/17/13 Virginia Water Central News Grouper post, Chesapeake Bay TMDL Upheld in Lawsuit Against U.S. EPA in Federal District Court in Pennsylvania; Ruling Issued 9-13-13.
EPA Proposes Carbon Pollution Standards for New Power Plants / Agency takes important step to reduce carbon pollution from power plants as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, U.S. EPA News Release, 9/20/13; and EPA moves to limit emissions of future coal- and gas-fired power plants, Washington Post, 9/19/13. On September 20, 2013, the U.S. EPA proposed regulations on the amount of carbon dioxide that can be emitted by new electricity-generating power plants. According to the EPA’s news release on the announcement, under the proposed regulations “new large natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour, while new small natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour. New coal-fired units would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour, and would have the option to meet a somewhat tighter limit if they choose to average emissions over multiple years, giving those units additional operational flexibility.” The proposed regulations will be open for a 60-day public-comment period once they are published in the Federal Register; that publication cannot take place under the partial federal government shutdown that began October 1.
Land Use/Watershed Protection
Draft of Fort Monroe master plan calls for mix of housing and park land, Daily Press, 9/27/13. On September 26, 2013, the Fort Monroe Planning Authority Advisory Group approved a draft master plan for the former military base turned over to the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2012. The full Fort Monroe Board of Trustees is scheduled to consider the plan on October 24, 2013. If that board approves the plan, it will go to the governor.
Va. group seeks more money for environment, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 9/23/13. In a report released on September 21, 2013, the group Virginia Forever released a report calling on the Commonwealth to spend $833.8 million over the period 2015-2019 for protection of agricultural lands, forests, other natural lands, and historic places; and $805 million over that period for water-quality efforts. These amounts would add $245 million and $725 million, respectively, to the land-protection and water-quality funds “already identified” by the Commonwealth, according to the report. According to its Web site, Virginia Forever is a “coalition of businesses, environmental organizations, and outdoor enthusiasts that advocates for increased funding for water quality improvements and land conservation across the Commonwealth. The report, “Investing in the Commonwealth’s Land and Water: Virginia Forever’s Five-year Plan, 2015-2019,” and more information about Virginia Forever is available online at http://virginiaforever.org/.
Study: Cities can save $1B if agency controls sewers, Virginian-Pilot, 9/25/13. On September 24, 2013, the Hampton Roads Sanitation Commission (HRSD; online at http://www.hrsd.com/) approved a recommendation (part of a study requested by the HRSD’s governing board) that localities in the district consolidate their wastewater systems, a move that could save over $2 billion on the work needed to upgrades systems to meet stricter requirements from the U.S. EPA and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. For the consolidation to proceed, approval is needed from localities operating their own wastewater-treatment systems. The HRSD service area includes eight counties and nine independent cities.
Water authority seeks input on proposed upgrades, Chesterfield Observer, 10/2/13. In October 2013, a proposed Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) water-supply permit for the Appomattox River Water Authority (in the James River basin) is open for public comment. Two key changes to the existing permit involve how the Authority calculates how much water flows into its Lake Chesdin reservoir, and how much water the Authority is required to release downstream during drought periods.
Virginia DEQ grants permit for Smith Mountain Lake water project, Lynchburg News & Advance, 10/1/13; and Bedford a step closer to water self-reliance, Lynchburg News & Advance, 7/17/13; and NG – Already had – Bedford water authority plan would triple takings from Smith Mountain Lake, Roanoke Times, 8/29/13. On September 19, 2013, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued a permit for Bedford Regional Water Authority to increase its water withdrawal from Smith Mountain Lake from 3 million gallons per day (MGD) to 12 MGD, an increase that could eventually allow the county to serve the Forest area and to reduce its water purchases from the City of Lynchburg. Approvals from the Bedford County Board of Supervisors and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission are still necessary for the county to begin construction of the project.
Outside of Virginia But in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed
Bonds to be issued for sewer plants, The (Martinsburg W.Va.) Journal, 9/27/13. West Virginia is expecting by the end of 2013 to issue bonds—estimated currently to raise between $70 million and $90 million—to help pay for Chesapeake Bay restoration-related upgrades needed at 12 wastewater-treatment plants in the eight counties of the state’s Eastern Panhandle, part of the Potomac River basin.
Maryland’s New Lawn Fertilizer Law Takes Effect October 1, Maryland Department of Agriculture News Release, 9/26/13. October 1, 2013, was the effective date for Maryland’s Fertilizer Use Act, passed in 2011, which bans phosphorus from most lawn fertilizer sold in the state, requires specific instructions on nitrogen fertilizers to warn against overuse, requires lawn-care professionals to be certified for fertilizer application, and requires homeowners to follow certain fertilizer-use practices.
Outside of Virginia But in the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed
Polluted farm runoff linked to toxic green algae slime in U.S. waters, Washington Post, 9/27/13; and Environmentalists win dead zone round against EPA, Associated Press, as published in Wilkes-Barre (Penn.) Times-Leader, 9/23/13. On September 20, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Jay Zainey in New Orleans (Eastern District of Louisiana) ordered the U.S. EPA to decide within six months whether to determine whether or not the federal Clean Water Act requires the agency to set regulatory standards for nitrogen and phosphorus in certain waters in the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico. Nitrogen and phosphorus are nutrients that, in excess, can lead to excessive growth of algae and eventually to depletion of oxygen dissolved in water, a situation sometimes called a “dead zone” and one commonly seen each year in the Chesapeake Bay, Gulf of Mexico, and other water bodies.