Virginia Precipitation and Stream Flow for the 7-day Period Ending December 11, 2017, Plus an Overview of Flooding Nationwide

Below are several items summarizing recent precipitation and stream flow:

  1. Images showing precipitation in Virginia and other areas of the United States, and stream flow in Virginia, over the seven-day period ending December 11, 2017 (information available as of December 12).
  2. Flooding overview maps for Virginia and nationwide, as of December 12.

The Virginia Water Resources Research Center thanks the agencies mentioned below for providing precipitation and stream-flow information and images. For the current month’s other weekly reports on stream flow and precipitation, please see the News Grouper posts available at this link: https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=Virginia+Precipitation.

For monthly reviews of precipitation, stream flow, and drought, please see the posts available at this link: https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=Monthly+Water+Status.

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, http://va.water.usgs.gov/.

USED GRDec2017 Nov09 Roanoke River at Lafayette Nov26 09December 2017 Gaging Station of the Month: Roanoke River at Lafayette in Montgomery County, November 26, 2009.  U.S. Geological Survey information from this gage is online at https://waterdata.usgs.gov/va/nwis/uv?site_no=02054500.  For the Virginia map of gaging sites, see https://waterdata.usgs.gov/va/nwis/rt.

Precipitation

The following two color-coded maps show southeastern U.S. precipitation amounts (top map) and the percent of normal precipitation compared to normal for this period of the year (bottom map) over the seven-day period ending December 11, 2017.  As of that date, these data were provisional (needing to be verified for accuracy and subject to possible revision).  The maps were accessed from the High Plains Regional Climate Center, located at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, online at https://hprcc.unl.edu/maps.php?map=ACISClimateMaps.

Precip Dec11Precip Perc Dec11 

Another source of precipitation data is the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, online at http://water.weather.gov/precip/.  The site provides maps showing precipitation nationwide or by state for specific days, months, or years.  The site also has the capability to show county boundaries, and other map layers available include river flood forecasts and current flood/severe weather warnings.  Shown below is the continental U.S. 7-day precipitation map as of 7 a.m. EST on 12/12/17.  Please note that UTC, the time shown on the maps at the site, is five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time and four hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time.

Precip US Dec12

Stream Flow

Seven-day-average Virginia stream flows at gaging stations as of December 11, 2017 are indicated in the map below, from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) WaterWatch for Virginia, accessed online at http://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?m=pa07d&r=va&w=map.  The map’s color-coded dots compare the previous week’s average stream flows to the normal flow levels for that week over the historical record for each gaging station.  The color codes/percentile classes used by USGS are as shown in the chart following the map.  Note: Additional gaging stations (such as for reservoirs or for inactive sites) are shown on maps available at the USGS’ National Water Information System Mapper, online at https://maps.waterdata.usgs.gov/mapper/index.html.

streams Dec11

KEEP on deskto - Stream flow code graph

Flooding Overview

As of about 10:45 a.m. EST on December 12, 2017, no stream-gaging stations in or adjacent to Virginia were either experiencing flooding or near flood stage, according to the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service’s (AHPS) map of stream and river levels relative to flood stage (color-coded) for Virginia and nearby areas.  The AHPS map for Virginia is shown below, along with the nationwide map as of the same time.  The maps are available online at http://water.weather.gov/ahps/forecasts.php; at that site, one can select Virginia or any other state of interest.
Flooding 01 VAFlooding 02 US Dec12

On Virginia Water Radio for 12-11-17: A Teal Tale

Virginia Water Radio’s episode for the week of December 11, 2017, is “The Green and Blue of Teal.”  The 4 min./9 sec. episode, available online at http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/2017/12/episode-398-12-11-17-green-and-blue-of.html,  focuses on Virginia’s two species of teal duck, the Green-winged and Blue-winged.  The episode includes music by Timothy Seaman of Williamsburg, Va., playing a tune attributed to Henry Reed, a traditional musician who settled in Giles County, Va.

BIRDS - Green-winged Teal Audubon USED Radio 398

Green-winged Teal painting originally published between 1827 and 1838 by John James Audubon in Birds of America (plate 228), as reprinted in 1985 by Abbeville Press, New York.  Photo taken December 10, 2017, from the reprint copy (no. 6 of 350 copies printed in 1985) owned by Special Collections of Virginia Tech Libraries.

Virginia Water Radio’s is a weekly broadcast/podcast produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center.  The home page is http://www.virginiawaterradio.org.  Have a listen or two!

Water-quality Certification for Proposed Mountain Valley Natural Gas Pipeline Approved by Virginia State Water Control Board on Dec. 7, 2017; Lawsuit Filed Dec. 8

Please note: this post concerns developments on Section 401 Water Quality Certification since the Virginia State Water Control Board’s public hearing and decisions in December 2017 .  For information on the 401 process prior to December 2017, please see this Water Central News Grouper post.  For more information on natural gas developments more generally in Virginia since 2015, please see this News Grouper post.

On December 7, 2017, Virginia’s State Water Control Board (SWCB) voted 5-2 to approve water-quality certification (under Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act) for the proposed Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline, which would about 300 miles from West Virginia to a connection at Chatham, in Pittsylvania County, Va., with the existing Transcontinental, or Transco, pipeline, which runs from Texas to New York.

On December 8, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, Appalachian Voices, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the Sierra Club, and Wild Virginia filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit (in Richmond), seeking a review of the actions by the SWCB and alleging that the SWCB acted without adequate information on potential water-quality impacts of the proposed project.

Following are news media items on the certification hearings, vote, lawsuit, and related developments.
State water board sued over decision to allow Mountain Valley Pipeline, Roanoke Times, 12/8/17.
Environmental groups file suit in federal court against gas pipeline, Washington Post, 12/8/17.
Water control board issues certification for Mountain Valley Pipeline, Roanoke Times, 12/7/17.
Meeting in Henrico erupts after Virginia state board issues approval of Mountain Valley Pipeline, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 12/7/17.
Virginia water board approves Mountain Valley Pipeline, angering opponents, Washington Post, 12/7/17.
Virginia water board certifies proposed natural gas pipeline, WSLS TV-Roanoke, 12/7/17.
State Water Control Board approves Mountain Valley Pipeline, WDBJ TV-Roanoke, 12/7/17.

A PDF of the certification document prepared by the Va. DEQ is available online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Portals/0/DEQ/Water/Pipelines/MVPfinaldraft401cert.pdf.  That document includes 14 areas of special conditions, which are listed below.

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality Conditions for 401 Water Quality Certification for Proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline

1. The Owner shall follow the measures detailed in its June 1, 2017, and June 22, 2017, responses to the Department’s May 19, 2017 and June 15, 2017 Requests for Information. These measures are expressly incorporated herein and shall be enforceable conditions of this Certification.
2.  Riparian Buffer Requirements
a) Removal of riparian buffers not directly associated with the Project construction activities is prohibited. Disturbance and removal of riparian buffers from Project-related upland land disturbing activities that would occur within 50 feet of any perennial, intermittent, or ephemeral surface waters shall be avoided where possible, and minimized to the maximum extent practicable if 50 feet is not possible.  Removal of riparian buffers not associated with crossings shall not be allowed where stream bank stability under normal flow conditions would be compromised.
b) The construction limit of disturbance (LOD) in upland areas approaching waterbody and wetland crossings shall be reduced from 125 feet to 75 feet and extended 50 feet from each side of the stream or wetland crossing as an additional upland buffer.  For any upland area approaching a waterbody or wetland crossing where this reduced LOD is not possible, a written justification shall be provided to the Department for review and approval prior to initiating land disturbing activity in that area.
c) A 100 foot riparian buffer shall be maintained between any perennial, intermittent, or ephemeral surface waters and all fueling, maintenance, parking and hazardous material storage activities.  These measures are expressly incorporated herein and shall be enforceable conditions of this Certification.
3. Karst Terrain Requirements
a) The Karst Hazard Assessment (February 2017) shall be revised and submitted to the Department upon completion of field survey activities and final pipeline alignments. The revised Karst Hazard Assessment shall be submitted to the Department for review and approval prior to initiation of land disturbing activities in those areas.
b) The Owner shall follow the measures as detailed in the Karst Mitigation Plan (March 2017). These measures are expressly incorporated herein and shall be enforceable conditions of this Certification.
c) To further evaluate flow paths for karst features in the vicinity of the project, the Owner shall develop a Karst Dye Tracing Plan to be submitted and approved by the Department. The Karst Dye Tracing Plan shall evaluate dye trace studies to determine hydrological connections and relationships associated with karst features.  The Karst Dye Tracing Plan shall at a minimum, evaluate the features identified in Attachment B of the Department’s June 15, 2017 request letter. These include any such features in the construction right-of-way and all other disturbed areas, including access roads and staging areas, as identified by the Karst Hazard Assessment. Any dye trace studies proposed in the approved Karst Dye Tracing Plan shall be completed prior to initiation of land disturbing activities in karst terrain. The Plan is expressly incorporated herein and shall be an enforceable condition of this Certification.

4. Surface Water Withdrawals
a) Any surface water withdrawals for the purposes of hydrostatic testing shall not violate applicable Water Quality Standards and shall be managed so that no more than 10% of the instantaneous flow rate from the channel is removed; the intake screens shall be designed so that screen openings are not larger than 1 millimeter and the screen face intake velocities are not greater than 0.25 feet per second.
b) Any surface water withdrawals for the purposes of horizontal directional drilling or dust control shall not violate applicable Water Quality Standards and shall be managed so that no more than 10% of the instantaneous flow rate from the channel is removed, the intake screens shall be designed so that screen openings are not larger than 1 millimeter and the screen face intake velocities are not greater than 0.25 feet per second.
c) Daily withdrawals from horizontal directional drilling or dust control activities shall not exceed 10,000 gallons per day from non-tidal waters and 2 million gallons from tidal waters per day. Any daily withdrawals greater than noted above shall comply with the requirements of the Virginia Water Protection Permit Program Regulation.  The Owner shall record and track the daily volumes of water withdrawn for horizontal directional drilling or dust control activities and make such records available during inspection or upon request by the Department.

d) Hydrostatic test water shall be released to upland areas through an energy dissipating dewatering device. The energy dissipating dewatering devices will be sized to accommodate the rate and volume of release and be monitored and regulated to prevent erosion and over pumping of the energy dissipating dewatering devices. There shall be no point source discharge of hydrostatic test water to surface waters. The upland discharge of hydrostatic test waters shall be monitored in accordance with the General Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (VPDES) Permit Regulation for Discharges from Petroleum Contaminated Sites, Groundwater Remediation and Hydrostatic Tests (9 VAC 25-120-10, et seq.). The Owner shall record and track the daily volumes of water withdrawn for hydrostatic testing activities and make such records available during inspection or upon request by the Department.  These measures are expressly incorporated herein and shall be enforceable conditions of this Certification.
5. The Owner shall implement water quality monitoring in accordance with the Upland Construction Water Quality Monitoring Plan (May 31, 2017, revised June 19, 2017). The Plan is expressly incorporated herein and shall be an enforceable condition of this Certification.
6. The Owner shall follow the measures intended to minimize the potential for impacts as detailed in the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan (submitted with the June 1, 2017 response to the Department and additional information submitted June 22, 2017). The Plan is expressly incorporated herein and shall be an enforceable condition of this Certification.
7. All construction and installation associated with the Project, except as permitted by the Corps, shall be accomplished in such a manner that construction material or waste material shall not be placed into any perennial, intermittent, or ephemeral surface waters or karst features. These measures are expressly incorporated herein and shall be enforceable conditions of this Certification.
8. The Owner shall follow the measures intended to minimize the potential for impacts as detailed in the General Blasting Plan (February 2017) and the Landslide Mitigation Plan Revision 4 (February 2017). These measures are expressly incorporated herein and shall be enforceable conditions of this Certification. The Owner shall notify the Department immediately, but no later than 24 hours after discovery, if blasting or landslide activity impacts any perennial, intermittent, or ephemeral surface waters or karst features.

9. The Owner shall follow the measures intended to minimize the potential for impacts as detailed in the Acid Forming Materials Mitigation Plan (May 2017). These measures are expressly incorporated herein and shall be an enforceable condition of this Certification.
10. The Project, including all relevant records, is subject to inspection at reasonable hours and intervals by the Department or any authorized representative of the Department to determine compliance with this Certification.
11. The Department shall be provided written or electronic notification at least 30 calendar days prior to any planned Construction Spread pre-construction conferences and Worker Environmental Awareness Program (WEAP) training.
12. The Owner shall immediately notify the Department of any modification of this Project and shall demonstrate in a written statement that said modifications will not violate any conditions listed in this Certification. If such demonstration cannot be made, the Owner shall apply for a modification of this Certification. These measures are expressly incorporated herein and shall be an enforceable condition of this Certification.
13. This Certification is subject to revocation for failure to comply with the above conditions and after proper hearing. Any direct or indirect discharge to State waters shall be subject to enforcement review under the State Water Control Law.
14. The terms and conditions of this Certificate shall remain in effect until 180 days after all land disturbing activity associated with the construction, operation, maintenance, and repair of the pipeline, and related access roads and rights-of-way have achieved final stabilization as required by the Erosion and Sediment Control Law (Va. Code § 62.1-44.15:51, et seq.)

Virginia Land Conservation Foundation Grants from Dominion Surry-Skiffes Creek Mitigation Agreement Announced in December 2017

On December 7, 2017, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s office announced nine Fiscal Year 2018 grants, worth a total of about $12.5 million, from the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation.  This set of grants was funded by Dominion Energy as part of the company’s $89.5 million mitigation agreement for impacts from the Surry-Skiffes Creek Transmission Line over the James River.  (For more on the Surry-Skiffes Creek line, please see this Water Central News Grouper item.)

This set of Foundation grants follows a set of 23 grants totaling $4.23 million, also for Fiscal Year 2018, announced in October 2017 in the Foundation’s regular annual funding round.

The Foundation was established in 1999 by the Virginia General Assembly for the purpose of helping “fund the purchase of permanent conservation easements, open spaces and parklands, lands of historic or cultural significance, farmlands and forests, and natural areas,” according to the Foundation’s Web site, http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/virginia-land-conservation-foundation/.

More information on the December 2017 grants is available in a 12/7/17 news release from the Governor’s Office, Governor McAuliffe Announces Nearly $12.5 Million in Land Conservation Grants; Projects will protect and interpret at-risk historic sites benefitting the James and York Rivers.

More information on the October 2017 grants is available in a 10/3/17 news release from the Governor’s Office, Governor McAuliffe Announces $4.23 Million in Virginia Land Conservation Grants.

Virginia Takes a Sharp Turn to the Drier According to December 5, 2017, U.S. Drought Monitor

The December 5, 2017, report from the U.S. Drought Monitor (from the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln) categorized over 93 percent of Virginia as “abnormally dry” and over 16 percent of the state as being in “moderate drought.”  Only some parts of far southwestern Virginia were not in the abnormally dry category.  One week earlier (report as of November 28, 2017), the Drought Monitor had categorized 44% of Virginia as being abnormally dry.  The 93-percent categorization was the highest abnormally dry rating since the Drought Monitor report for April 26, 2016.

The Drought Monitor is available online at http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/.  The Virginia map and statistics are online at http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/CurrentMap/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?VA.

Drought Monitor categories are as follows:
D0 = abnormally dry;
D1 = moderate drought;
D2 = severe drought;
D3 = extreme drought;
D4 = exceptional drought.

The Drought Monitor notes that it “focuses on broad-scale conditions [and] local conditions may vary.”

Virginia Water-related Government Meetings for Dec. 7-Dec. 20, 2017; Including 2018 Virginia General Assembly Information

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.

REGULAR MEETINGS OF STATEWIDE BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS

12/7/17, 9 a.m.: Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  At the Patrick Henry Building, 1111 East Broad Street in Richmond.

12/7/17, 9:30 a.m.; 12/11/17, 9:30 a.m.; and 12/12/17, 9:30 a.m.: State Water Control Board.  At Trinity Family Life Center, 3601 Dill Road in Richmond.  Much of these meetings will be devoted to public comment on the proposed Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline (on 12/7) and proposed Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline (12/11 and 12/12).

12/7/17, 7 p.m.: Marine Resources Commission’s Saltwater Fishing Tournament Committee.  At 2600 Washington Avenue in Newport News.

12/12/17, 9:30 a.m.: Marine Resources Commission.  At 2600 Washington Avenue in Newport News.

12/14/17, 9 a.m.: Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy’s Coal Mine Safety Board.  At the Department of Mines Minerals and Energy Office, 3405 Mountain Empire Road in Big Stone Gap (Wise County).

12/14/17, 9:30 a.m.: Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers, and Landscape Architects.  At the Department of Professional and  Occupational Regulation, 9960 Mayland Drive in Richmond.  The Board’s Architects, Certified Interior Designers, & Landscape Architects Section meets on 12/14/17, 11 a.m., at the same location.

12/19/17, 9 a.m.: Gas and Oil Board.  At the Russell County Office Building, 139 Highland Drive in Lebanon.

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VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY WATER-RELATED MEETINGS

For meetings of legislative committees and commissions, see http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?171+oth+MTG.  Links to information about General Assembly commissions, councils, and special interim committees coordinated by the Division of Legislative Services are available online at http://dls.virginia.gov/commissions.html.

Jan.-Mar. 2018: Virginia General Assembly, Richmond.  The 2018 General Assembly convenes on January 10 and is scheduled for 60 days; this is a so-called “long session,” which is held in all even-numbered years.  The reconvened (“veto”) session will be held in April.  During long sessions, the Commonwealth’s budget for the upcoming two years is set; amendments to the current biennial budget may be considered both in long and short sessions.  In some years, sessions are extended beyond the scheduled length, particularly for budget discussions (any session may be extended for up to 30 days).  Live video streams of floor sessions are available at http://virginia-house.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3 for the House and http://virginia-senate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3 for the Senate.  Committees are key parts of the General Assembly process. Legislation about water or about activities that can affect water may be assigned to any of several standing committees, most of which meet weekly during the General Assembly session. Two committees that receive many (but by no means all!) of the water-related bills are the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee, which meets weekly on Wednesdays, 8:30 a.m., in House Room C of the General Assembly Building; and the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee, which meets weekly on Thursdays, one-half hour after adjournment of the day’s floor session, in Senate Room B of the temporary General Assembly Building, 900 North 9th Street in Richmond.  Information about all standing committees as of June 2018—including membership, meeting times, and legislation being considered—is available online at http://lis.virginia.gov/181/com/COM.HTM.  For more information on the General Assembly, visit http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/index.php or contact your local member of the House of Delegates or State Senate.

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MEETINGS ABOUT TOTAL MAXIMUM DAILY LOADS (or TMDLs) for IMPAIRED WATERS

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 http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterQualityInformationTMDLs/TMDL/TMDLDevelopment/ApprovedTMDLReports.aspx.

12/12/17, 1:30 p.m., on the TMDL study of aquatic life (benthic) impairment in Catawba Creek and of bacterial impairment in the James River and tributaries Barbours Creek, Craig Creek, Catawba Creek, Lapsley Run, Little Patterson Creek, and Sinking Creek, all in the James River basin in Botetourt and Craig counties.  At Eagle Rock Library, 55 Eagles Nest Drive in Eagle Rock (Botetourt County).

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MEETINGS ON OTHER SPECIFIC TOPICS
(topics listed alphabetically)

Agriculture/Forestry
12/13/17, 10 a.m.: Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Pollinator Protection Advisory Committee.  At the Capitol Building, House Room 1, 1000 Bank Street in Richmond.

Fort Monroe
12/14/17, 4 p.m.: Fort Monroe Authority Board of Trustees’ Finance Committee.  At 20 Ingalls Road in Fort Monroe (adjacent to the City of Hampton).  In 2011, the Virginia General Assembly (Senate Bill 1400) established the Fort Monroe Authority to manage the historic areas of Fort Monroe and Old Point Comfort—at the confluence of Hampton Roads with the Chesapeake Bay—after the federal government closed its military facilities there.  Fort Monroe had been a U.S. military base since 1836.  In 2011, the area was designated as Fort Monroe National Monument (http://www.nps.gov/fomr/index.htm).  More information about Fort Monroe and the Authority is available online at http://www.fmauthority.com/.

Invasive Species
12/11/17, 1 p.m.: Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Invasive Species Working Group.  At the Capitol Building, Senate Room 1, 1000 Bank Street in Richmond.

Two Virginia Northern Neck Natural Area Preserves Featured in November 2017 Bay Journal Article

Explore lesser-known preserves on Virginia’s Northern Neck,” by Leslie Middleton for Bay Journal, 11/29/17, focuses on two natural preserve areas on the Northern Neck peninsula between the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers: Bush Mill Stream Natural Preserve Area in Northumberland County and Hickory Hollow Natural Preserve Area in Lancaster County.  The article is available online at http://www.bayjournal.com/article/explore_lesser_known_preserves_on_virginias_northern_neck, or contact Bay Journal at (717) 428-2819.

More information about all of Virginia’s natural preserve areas, which are managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, is available online at http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/natural-area-preserves/, or by contacting the Department in Richmond at (804) 786-6124.  The online site for Bush Mill is http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/natural-area-preserves/bushmill; for Hickory Hollow, http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/natural-area-preserves/hickory.

Bush Mill Natural Area Preserve by Leslie Middleton

Bush Mill Stream Natural Preserve Area, Northumberland County, Va., February 2017. Photo courtesy of Leslie Middleton and Bay Journal.