Category Archives: Non-Virginia

West Virginia Chemical Spill on Jan. 9, 2014 – April 16 PBS Update Includes Discussion of New West Virginia Chemical-storage Law

On April 16, 2014, the PBS NewsHour broadcast an update on the January 2014 chemical spill into the Elk River near Charleston, West Virginia.  The segment includes the following:
*review of the basic facts of the spill;

*discussion of a law passed in 2014 by the West Virginia legislature, Senate Bill 373, which creates the “Above-ground Storage Tank Water Resources Protection Act” authorizing various actions related to chemical-storage tanks and protection of water resources (for a news account of the bill, see Tomblin Signs Storage Tank Bill, Charleston Gazette, 4/1/14);

*discussion of a long, detailed article published April 7, 2014, in The New Yorker magazine (Chemical Valley: The coal industry, the politicians, and the big spill) on the historic role of the chemical and coal industries in West Virginia’s economy and politics.

The 10 min./19 sec. PBS video is available at this link:

Water-Energy Connections Examined in Fall 2013 Issue of Headwaters Magazine from Colorado Foundation for Water Education

The Fall 2013 issue of Headwaters, published by the Colorado Foundation for Water Education, examines the connections among energy extraction, power production, and water use.  The focus is on Colorado, of course, but the articles offer information and perspectives useful for understanding water-energy connections in other states, too.  See, for example, “Water Fuels Power” (page 7); the comparison of costs and water use for six sources of energy for electrical power (pages 14-15); and “How Hydraulic Fracturing Works” (pages 20-21).

The publication’s archive is available online at; or contact the Foundation in Denver at (303) 377-4433 or

Preliminary Severe Weather Reports for April 3, 2014, from Storm Prediction Center; and a Look-back at the Massive Tornado Outbreak of April 3-4, 1974

Below is the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center’s map of preliminary (not yet verified) reports of high winds, hail, and tornadoes in the continental United States on April 3, 2014 (as of 8:59 EDT, or 1349Z/Greenwich Mean Time, on 4/4/14).  (No reports came in from Virginia.)  The 4/3/14 storm-report map and text of reports are available online at, and at that site you can also access the Center’s archive of maps and report lists for previous days going back several years.

yesterday Reports Graphic
The severe weather of April 3 this year came on the 40th anniversary of a massive tornado outbreak of April 3-4, 1974.  That event brought 148 tornadoes to 13 states from Missouri to the Carolinas and resulted in 330 deaths, over 5000 injuries, and $600 million in property damage.  A detailed account of the April 1974 tornado outbreak is available from the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) , online at

A Water Conference Sampler from around the United States and Canada, as of April 16, 2014

Here are some water meetings in the United States and Canada in coming months.  This list as the Virginia Water Resources Research Center learns of new events.  If you would like an event added, please send basic information (date, location, event title, event organizer, Web site, and contact information) to with subject line: For Water Central Editor.  This post is for non-Virginia events; for water meetings and other events in the Old Dominion, please see the Virginia Water Resources Research Center’s online Quick Guide to Virginia Water Events.

Much of this information was provided by the Virginia Water Monitoring Council (VWMC).  For more information on the VWMC, please visit

Apr. 15-18, 2014, Seattle, Wash.: Global Marine Renewable Energy Conference, in conjunction with Marine Energy Technology Symposium.  Organized by the Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition.  More information:

Apr. 28-May 2, 2014, Cincinnati, Ohio: 9th National Monitoring Conference.  This year’s theme is “Working Together for Clean Water.”  Organized by the National Water Monitoring Council, the U.S. EPA, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the North American Lake Management Society.  More information: .

Apr. 30-May 1, 2013, Pipestem Resort State Park in West Virginia: Mountain State Land Use Academy–Spring 2014 Leadership Conference.  Organized by the West Virginia University School of Law’s Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic.  More information:; (304) 293-4633.

May 1-2, 2014, Brainerd, Minn.: The State of Water Conference 2014–Minnesotans Protecting Our Lakes and Rivers.  Organized by the Freshwater Society, Conservation Minnesota, and several other sponsors.  More information:; (612) 767-2444; e-mail:

May 4-7, 2014, Denver, Colo.: National Groundwater Association Groundwater Summit.  More information:

May 12-14, 2014, Salt Lake City, Utah: 2014 American Water Resources Association’s Spring Specialty Conference–”GIS and Water Resources VIII–Data to Decisions.”  More information:; phone (540) 687-8390; e-mail:

May 12-15, 2014, Portland, Ore.: 31st Conference on Agricultural and Forest Meteorology.  Organized by American Meteorological Society.  More information:

May 14-16, 2014, Minneapolis, Minn: National Pretreatment & Pollution Prevention Workshop.  Organized by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies.  More information:

May 18-23, 2014, Portland, Ore.: Bridging Genes to Ecosystems: Aquatic Science at a Time of Rapid Change.  Organized by the Society for Freshwater Science (SFS), Association for the Sciences of Limnology & Oceanography (ASLO), Phycological Society of America (PSA), & the Society of Wetland Scientists (SWS).  More information:

May 19-22, 2014, Monterey, Calif.: International Conference on Remediation of Chlorinated and Recalcitrant Compounds.  Organized by Batelle Memorial Institute, Columbus, Ohio.  More information:

May 26-30, 2014, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada: 57th Annual Conference on Great Lakes Research.  This year’s theme is “Ecosystem in Transition.”  Organized by the International Association for Great Lakes Research (IAGLR).   More information:; Dr. Patricia Chow-Fraser, (905) 525-9140 Ext. 21996;

May 30-Jun. 2, 2014, Pittsburgh, Penn.: River Rally 2014.  Organized by River Network and Waterkeeper Alliance.   More information:; Katherine Luscher, (503) 542-8397.

Jun. 1-5, 2014, San Francisco, Calif.: PIANC (World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure) World Congress.  This year’s theme is “Navigating the New Millennium.”  Organized by the U.S. Section of PIANC.  More information:

Jun. 9-13, 2014, Westminster, Colo.: Symposium on Meteorological Observations and Instrumentation.  Organized by the American Meteorological Society.  More information:

Jun. 10-11, 2014, Boulder, Colo.: Global Emissions Initiative Conference: Bridging Emissions Science and Policy.  Organized by the University of Colorado and several global atmospheric-science organizations.  More information:

Jun. 17-19, 2014, Bethesda, Md.: Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference.  Organized by the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the ACS’ Green Chemistry Institute.  More information:

Jun. 18-20, 2014, Medford, Mass.: Annual conference of the Universities Council on Water Resources (UCOWR), the National Institutes for Water Resources (NIWR), and the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc. (CUAHSI).  More information:

Jun. 24-27, 2014, Big Sky, Mont.: Sustaining the Blue Planet 2014—Global Water Education ConferenceOrganized by the Project WET Foundation.  More information:;; (406) 522-9038.

Jun. 30-Jul. 2, 2014, Reno, Nev.: American Water Resources Association (AWRA) Integrated Water Resources Management Conference.  More information:; (540) 687-8390;  (The AWRA is headquartered in Middleburg, Va.)

July, 7-10, 2014, Las Vegas, Nev.: 2014 National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) Annual Educational Conference and International Federation of Environmental Health (IFEH) 13TH World Congress.  More information:

Jul. 13-16, 2014, Montreal, Canada: American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers Annual International Meeting.  More information:

Jul. 13-16, 2014, Portland, Ore.: National Association of Clean Water Agencies Summer Conference.  More information:

Jul. 21-25, 2014, Annapolis, Md.: National Marine Educators Association Annual Conference.  More information:; Tami Lunsford, (302) 369, 2001 or; or David Christopher, (410) 576-8799 or

Jul. 28-30, 2014, National Conservation Training Center, Shepherdstown, West Va.: Fourth Biennial Colloquium on Hydrologic Science and Engineering.  The theme for this meeting is “Water Across the Critical Zone–Scaling from Local to Global Hydrology.”  Organized by the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc. (CUAHSI).  Click here for more information; or contact Emily Geosling, CUAHSI, 196 Boston Ave, Suite 3000, Medford, MA 02155; phone (339) 221-5400, ext. 204; e-mail:

Jul. 28-Aug. 1, 2014, New Orleans, La.: Conference on Ecological and Ecosystem Restoration.  Organized by the National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration and the Society for Ecological Restoration.  More information:

Aug. 10-15, 2014, Sacramento, Calif.: Ecological Society of America 2014 Annual Meeting.  More information:

Aug. 17-21, 2014, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada: American Fisheries Society Annual Conference.  Co-organizer is Fisheries and Oceans Canada.  This year’s theme is “From Fisheries Research to Management: Think and Act Locally and Globally.”  More information:

Aug. 18-19, 2014, Charlotte, N.C.: Municipal Wet Weather Stormwater Conference.  Organized by the U.S. EPA Region 4 Office and the Southeast Chapter of the International Erosion Control Association (IECA) Region One.  More information:

Aug. 19-22, 2014, Iowa City, Iowa: Fourth International Conference on Emerging Contaminants in the Environment (EmCon2014). Organized by the University of Iowa and several partners.  More information:; David Cwiertny, (319) 335-1401;

Aug. 25-27, 2014, Denver, Colo.: 2014 Unconventional Resources Technology Conference.  Conference organization created and sponsored by the Society of Petroleum Engineers, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, & Society of Economic Geologists.  More information:

Sep. 3-7, 2014, New Orleans, La.: Society of Environmental Journalists Annual Conference.  More information:

Sep. 9-12, 2014, San Francisco, Calif.: Specialist Conference on Watershed and River Basins Management.  More information: — Organized by the University of the Pacific and the International Water Association.

Sep. 14-19, 2014, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada: Oceans ’14.  Sponsored by the Marine Technology Society and the Oceanic Engineering Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.  More information:

Sep. 16-18, 2014, Portland, Ore.: “Who Will Own the Forest?” Conference.  Organized by the World Forestry Institute.  More information:

Sep. 21-25, 2014, St. Louis, Mo.: Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Annual Meeting.  (Virginia’s member of this organization is the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.)  More information:

Sep. 24-25, 2014, National Conservation Training Center, Shepherdstown, W. Va.: 2014 Mid-Atlantic Regional Water Conference.  This year’s theme is “The Future of Mid-Atlantic Water Infrastructure: Challenges and Solutions.” Organized by the National Institutes for Water Resources (NIWR) and its Mid-Atlantic member institutes in Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, D.C., Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.  More information:

Sep. 27-Oct. 1, 2014, New Orleans, La.: Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference.  More information:

Sep. 30-Oct. 2, 2014, Louisville, Ky.: America’s Watershed Initiative Summit. Organized by The Nature Conservancy and the University of Florida.  More information:

Oct. 8-10, 2014, Charleston, S.C.: 9th Annual Regional Stormwater Conference.  The theme this year is “Improving Water Quality through Relationships, Regulations, and Research.”  Organized by the Southeast Stormwater Association. Presentation proposals are being accepted through February 28.  More information:;; (866) 367-7379.

Oct. 14-15, 2014, St. Paul, Minn.: Minnesota Water Resources Conference.  Organized by the University of Minnesota Water Resources Center.  More information:; (612) 624-9282; e-mail:

Oct. 15-17, 2014, Dayton, Ohio: Natural Areas Conference.   Organized by the Natural Areas Association and Five Rivers MetroParks.  More information:

Oct. 20-23, 2014, St. Louis, Mo.: 39th Climate Diagnostics and Prediction Workshop.  Organized by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  More information:

Oct. 22-24, 2014, Raleigh, N.C.: Southeastern Alternative Fuels Conference and Expo.  This year’s theme is “Driving the New Economy.” Organized by the North Carolina Solar Center at North Carolina State University.  More information:; Andrea Bachrach, (919) 515-5693 or

Oct. 27-30, 2014, Baltimore, Md.: BioCycle East Coast Conference 2014 (on composting, organics recycling and renewable energy).  More information:

Nov. 9-13, 2014, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: 35th Annual Meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) North America.  More information:

Nov. 12-14, 2014, Portland, Ore.: Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education (AORE) Conference.  More information:

Nov. 16-20, 2014, New Orleans, La.: Water Quality Technology Conference and Exposition.  Organized by the American Water Works Association.  More information:

Nov. 17-20, 2014, Charlotte, N.C.: EcoStream–Stream Ecology and Restoration Conference.  Organized by the North Carolina State University Stream Restoration Program.  More information:

Nov. 19-21, 2014, St. Petersburg, Fla.: National Clean Water Law Seminar.  Organized by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies.  More information:

Drought in the Great Plains is Focus of Apr. 1-4, 2014, Symposium in Lincoln, Neb.

Maybe it’s not dry right now (early March 2014) where you are (say, Virginia), or maybe it is (say, California, in a big, serious way).   But in the Great Plains of the United States, drought and its effects on water resources are a constant reality or at least threat, and this has had a powerful influence on the region’s history, culture, economics, environment, and law.  Those impacts of drought are the focus of “Drought in the Life, Cultures, and Landscapes of the Great Plains,” Apr. 1-4, 2014, in Lincoln, Nebraska.  This is the 40th annual symposium of the Center for Great Plains Studies, located at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  For more information, visit; phone (402) 772-3082; or e-mail:

39 Niobrara river cliff at Fort Niobrara NWR Jul13 2011

A Great Plains water resource: the Niobrara River in Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge, near Valentine, Nebraska, July 13, 2011.

California Drought 2012-2014 – A Quick Summary and Sources of Information

It’s an event of national significance when persistent and severe drought afflicts California, the nation’s third largest state in land area and largest in population (with over 37 million people as of the 2010 Census), and the source of over $44 billion worth of agricultural products in 2012, about 11 percent of total U.S. cash farm receipts that year (according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture).

As of the February 25, 2014, edition of the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (online at, about 91 percent of California was categorized as being in “severe,” “extreme,” or “exceptional” drought (the Drought Monitor’s three driest categories, out of five).  According to Drought Monitor archives, at least 20 percent of California has been rated in severe drought or worse almost continuously since mid-March 2012.

Here are some comments from the February 25 Drought Monitor on the California drought:
“California remained the focal point of a U.S. drought that stretches from the Pacific Coast to portions of the Mississippi Valley…

“California remained the focal point of a U.S. drought that stretches from the Pacific Coast to portions of the Mississippi Valley…

“By February 26, the California Department of Water Resources reported that the Sierra Nevada snowpack contained an average of 5 inches of liquid, just 22 percent of the late-February normal.  Prior to…early-February storminess, the water equivalency of the Sierra Nevada snowpack was 3 inches, about one-sixth of the end-of-January normal.

“From a broader perspective, California completed its 12th-driest year from July 1, 2011—June 30, 2012, and its 11th-driest year from July 1, 2012—June 30, 2013, according to the National Climatic Data Center.  During the last 120 years, the only comparable period for dryness occurred from July 1, 1975—June 30, 1977, when California experienced its fourth- and third-driest years on record.  …This year, California is on track to complete one of its driest years on record; the period from July 1, 2013—January 31, 2014, broke an all-time record for dryness.  Heat has certainly not helped California’s drought situation; Needles, Calif.—with a high of 90°F on February 19—reported its earliest ever 90-degree reading (previously, 90°F on February 24, 1904).  Sandberg, Calif., has reached or exceeded the 70-degree mark on 7 days in February; the previous standard of 4 days was established in February 1963.”

Besides the U.S. Drought Monitor, here are five other resources to help you learn about and follow this significant event in the Golden State.

California Department of Food and Agriculture, Sacramento, online at, phone: (916) 654-0466.  (For agricultural statistics, see

California Department of Water Resources, Sacramento, online at; phone: (916) 653-5791.

California Institute for Water Resources/University of California-Davis, online at, phone: (510) 987-9124.  (For drought-information resources, see

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) California Water Science Center, Sacramento, online at; phone: (916) 278-3000.

PBS “NewsHour” report of February 14, 2014, “California’s historic drought strains towns and farms in Sonoma County,” online at (8 min./4 sec).

Weather-measurement Changes and Challenges are Focus of Article in Sep./Oct. 2013 Newsletter from the Water Center of Colorado State University

Measuring the Weather,” pages 20-23 in the September/October 2013 issue of Colorado Water, from the Water Center of Colorado State University, looks at the changes in weather-measuring technology from crafted, mechanical devices to today’s wide variety of electronic-based devices.  The article also discusses how the proliferation of new devices has created challenges for getting data comparable across devices, data collectors, and time periods.   The newsletter is available online (as PDF) at; or contact the Colorado center at (970) 491-6308; e-mail:

West Virginia Chemical Spill Investigated in National Science Foundation “Rapid Response” Study

On January 30, 2014, the National  Science Foundation announced that it awarded a “rapid-response” research grant to three scientists to study different aspects of the January 9, 2014, spill of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM) from a chemical plant into the Elk River in Charleston, West  Virginia.  The spill led to the loss of public drinking water for several days and–as of early February–to continuing questions and concerns about the effects of MCHM (along with a second chemical, PPH, which was reported later in January also to have been in the leak, although in much smaller amounts than MCHM).  The 0ne-year, $150,000 combined study is being conducted by Andrea Dietrich of Virginia Tech (focusing on the behavior of MCHM in the environment), Jennifer Weidhaas of West Virginia University (focusing on the extent of the contamination by MCHM) and Andrew Whelton of the University of South Alabama, and a Virginia Tech graduate (focusing on MCHM’s interaction with plastic water-supply pipes).

Sources: NSF AwardsRapid Response Grants to Study West Virginia Chemical Spill, National Science Foundation News Release, 1/30/14;  and A Second Chemical Was Part of West Virginia Chemical Spill, Company Reveals, New York Times, 1/22/14.

For links to other sources of information about the West Virginia spill, please see this Water Central News Grouper post of Jan. 10, 2014:
West Virginia Chemical Spill on Jan. 9, 2014 – Information Sources.

Environmental History Projects on Water in Colorado Provide Insights about Water Use, Management, and Importance

Water resources were the focus of three environmental-history projects between 2010 and 2013 by Colorado State University’s Public Lands History Center (PLHC).  The projects are described in “PLHC Water History Projects,” pages 29-31 in the July/August 2013 issue of Colorado Water, from the Colorado Water Institute at Colorado State University.  The three projects were as follows: a history of the Water Utilities department of Fort Collins, Colo.; a history of the Farmers Reservoir and Irrigation Company of Brighton, Colo.; and a history of agricultural and urban water use on the Cache La Poudre River, which is located in the Fort Collins area.  At the end of the article, Blake Stewart, one of PLHC’s researchers, stated the following about the value of these projects to Colorado’s water resources, and the potential value of similar projects in other states: “The importance of understanding water and where it comes from, how it is delivered, and how people perceive and use it cannot be underestimated, and environmental history helps us answer many of these questions.”  The newsletter is available online (as PDF) at; or contact the Colorado Water Institute at (970) 491-6308; e-mail:

Emerging Contaminants are Focus of International Conference at University of Iowa, Aug. 19-22, 2014

The Fourth International Conference on Emerging Contaminants in the Environment (EmCon2014) will be held August 19-22, 2014, at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.  The meeting is being organized by the University of Iowa’s Civil and Environment Engineering Department and several other partners.  For more information, visit; or contact David Cwiertny, (319) 335-1401 or