Water in the 2018 Virginia General Assembly – Bills Related to Natural Gas Pipelines

This is one of a series of posts on particular water-related bills in the 2018 Virginia General Assembly.  For an inventory of about water-related bills in the 2018 General Assembly, please visit the Virginia Water Resources Research Center’s “Virginia Water Legislation” page, online at http://www.vwrrc.vt.edu/virginia-water-legislation/.  Each post includes a summary of the bill(s), their legislative status (in committee, passed, failed, etc.), and a list of hyperlinked headlines for news media items on the bill(s).  Information on the bills’ provisions and status is taken from the Virginia Legislative Information System (LIS), online at http://leg1.state.va.us/lis.htm (LIS description of provisions edited in some cases for space or clarity).  Each bill number is hyperlinked to the LIS entry for that bill.

Several bills introduced into the 2018 Virginia General Assembly dealt with water-related impacts or landowner rights related to natural gas pipelines.  (For much more detail on natural gas issues in Virginia, please see this News Grouper post.)

The following two bills were still alive as of the morning of February 23, 2018.

SB 698 and SB 699 – Natural gas pipelines: inspections of land-disturbing activities and stop work instructions.  Both bills passed the Senate (33-7 on 2/6/18) and were reported from the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources (22-0 on 2/21/18).   The bills, sponsored by Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-25th), would authorize the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to conduct inspections of land-disturbing activities related to construction of any natural gas transmission pipeline greater than 36 inches in diameter to determine (i) compliance with annual standards and specifications, (ii) compliance with any site-specific plans, and (iii) if there have been or are likely to be adverse impacts to water quality as a result of such land-disturbing activities; and would authorize the DEQ to issue a stop-work instruction on the relevant part of the site when the department that there has been a substantial adverse impact to water quality or that a substantial and imminent adverse impact to water quality is likely to occur as a result of such land-disturbing activities.

The following five bills failed (bills below are listed in order by bill number, with House bills listed before Senate bills).

HB 1141 – Interstate natural gas pipeline; Virginia Water Protection Permit; regulations. This bill failed in the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources.  The bill, sponsored by Del. Sam Rasoul (D-11th), would have directed the State Water Control Board (SWCB), to do the following in the case of interstate natural gas pipeline projects: require both a Virginia Water Protection Permit and an Individual Water Quality Certification under Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act; review water body crossings, construction through karst terrain, and plans for control of erosion, sediment, and stormwater; prohibit any land-disturbing activity, including tree felling, prior to the issuance of a Water Quality Certification; and require horizontal directional drilling for certain crossings of large water bodies.

HB 1187Natural gas companies; right of entry upon property.  This bill failed in the House Committee on Commerce and Labor.  The bill, sponsored by Del. Chris Hurst (D-12th), would have put additional conditions on the permission for natural gas companies to enter upon real property for the purpose of conducting surveys and other tests for its proposed line or the location of facilities.  The companion bill in the Senate was SB 324, sponsored by Sen. John Edwards (D-21st); that bill failed in the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor.

HB 1188 – Natural gas pipelines; contingency plan; operation; discharge; penalty.  This bill failed in the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources.  The bill, sponsored by Del. Chris Hurst (D-12th), would have required the operator of any natural gas pipeline of a certain size, prior to operation, to commission an independent test of the quality of groundwater for each property in the right-of-way and to file a gas discharge contingency plan that is approved by the State Water Control Board; authorizes the Board to adopt regulations requiring testing and inspection of the pipeline and annual retesting of ground water at properties in the right-of-way and a demonstration of financial responsibility by the operator; prohibited the discharge of gas, establishing penalties for those discharging or causing or permitting a discharge or a substantial threat of such discharge, establishing legal liability and defenses, and requiring any person discharging gas immediately to report it to the Board and to local authorities.

HB 1294 – Interstate natural gas pipeline construction; water quality impact bond; statewide halt.  This bill failed in the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources.  The bill, sponsored by Del. Sam Rasoul (D-11th), would have required any company that plans to construct an interstate natural gas pipeline in Virginia to post a performance bond with the State Water Control Board (SWCB) in an amount sufficient to ensure that the Board could address and remediate any adverse water quality impact that arises out of the construction; and provided that, if the SWCB determines that construction activity has caused or threatens to cause an adverse water quality impact, the SWCB shall undertake conservation action to address and remediate the identified water quality impact and issue an order to halt any construction on each interstate natural gas pipeline under construction in Virginia.

News Media Items Related to This Legislation

Pipeline bills pass Senate, Bath Recorder, 2/7/18.

General Assembly panel kills pipeline bills by Dels. Chris Hurst and Sam Rasoul, Roanoke Times, 2/6/18.

‘Democratic Caucus of SWVA’ introduce bills to support landowners during pipeline disputes, WDBJ TV-Roanoke, 1/11/18.

Southwest Va. lawmakers push legislative package aimed at reforming pipeline regulation, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1/11/18.

Water in the 2018 Virginia General Assembly: Coal Ash Management Bills

This is one of a series of posts on particular water-related bills in the 2018 Virginia General Assembly.  For an inventory of about water-related bills in the 2018 General Assembly, please visit the Virginia Water Resources Research Center’s “Virginia Water Legislation” page, online at http://www.vwrrc.vt.edu/virginia-water-legislation/.  Each post includes a summary of the bill(s), their legislative status (in committee, passed, failed, etc.), and a list of hyperlinked headlines for news media items on the bill(s).  Information on the bills’ provisions and status is taken from the Virginia Legislative Information System (LIS), online at http://leg1.state.va.us/lis.htm; the LIS summaries are edited in some cases for space or clarity.  Each bill number is hyperlinked to the LIS entry for that bill.

Several bills were introduced in the 2018 Virginia General Assembly on management of ponds that contain coal-combustion residuals, also called coal ash, by power plants in the Commonwealth.  As of 2/22/18, one bill—SB 807—was still alive in this session.

SB 807 – Electric utilities; closure, request for proposals.  As of 2/22/18, this bill had passed the Senate (37-3 on 2/13/18) and was in the House Commerce and Labor Committee.  The bill, ponsored by Sen. Scott Surovell (D-36th), would direct the director of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to suspend, delay, or defer the issuance of any permit to provide for the closure of any coal combustion residuals (CCR, or coal ash) unit until July 1, 2019, other than for a permit required for impoundments where coal ash has already been removed and placed in another impoundment on site, is being removed from an impoundment, or is being processed in connection with a recycling or beneficial use project.  The measure also requires the owner or operator of any CCR surface impoundment that is located within the Chesapeake Bay watershed to issue a request for proposals (RFP) to determine (i) the quantity of coal ash that may be suitable for recycling in each CCR surface impoundment located within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, (ii) the cost of recycling such coal ash, and (iii) the potential market demand for material recycled from such coal ash.  The owner or operator is required to report on the results of the RFP by December 1, 2018.

Following are descriptions and the status of five other coal ash-related bills that were introduced into the 2018 session.

HB 467 – Coal ash: recycling or reuse as preferred disposal method.  The bill failed in the House Commerce and Labor Committee on 2/13/18.  The bill, sponsored by Del. Lee Carter (D-50th), would have prohibited of coal ash except by recycling or beneficial reuse (with certain exceptions).

SB 765 – Coal ash ponds: mandatory testing of drinking water wells in Chesapeake Bay watershed.  This bill was carried over to 2019 in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.  The bill, sponsored by Sen. Scott Surovell (D-36th), would require the owner or operator of any coal ash pond in the Chesapeake Bay watershed that is closed by capping in place to complete a survey of all drinking water wells within one mile of the pond; require the utility to commission an independent well water test on behalf of the owner of each such well and conduct such a test once per year during each of the five years following the approval of the closure of the coal ash pond, and once every five years thereafter; require the utility to proved alternative water supplies to the owner of any well where tests exceed groundwater quality standards for constituents associated with coal ash; and require the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to consider the results of the tests in its permitting, monitoring, or enforcement proceedings.

SB 767 – Coal ash ponds: delay of closure permit issuance for certain flaws in closure plans.  This bill was carried over to 2019 in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.   The bill, sponsored by Sen. Scott Surovell (D-36th), would authorize the director of the DEQ to delay the issuance of a permit for the closure of a coal ash pond in the Chesapeake Bay watershed if the DEQ determines that the closure plan shows any insufficiency or flaw, including a failure to account for the possibility of leakage.

SB 768 – Electric utilities: limits on recovery of costs associated with closure in place of coal ash facilities.  This bill was carried over to 2019 in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.   The bill, sponsored by Sen. Scott Surovell (D-36th), would direct that in State Corporation Commission (SCC) reviews of investor-owned electric utilities, any costs incurred by the utility that are associated with closure in place of a coal ash landfill or surface impoundment are to be considered “unreasonable and not prudent”; and would direct that, for purposes of any rate adjustment clause for recovery of environmental costs, costs associated with closure in place of such a landfill or impoundment are not necessary to comply with any environmental law or regulation.

SB 808 – Electric utilities; Transitional Rate Period, coal combustion residuals landfills.  This bill was carried over to 2019 in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.   The bill, sponsored by Sen. Scott Surovell (D-36th), would change the duration of the Commonwealth’s current Transitional Rate Period (Period) for any Phase II Electric Utility, and provide that during the first biennial review after the Period, the State Corporation Commission shall determine whether the utility would have owed customers a refund during any test period in the Transitional Rate Period, and, if so, the utility may elect to expense up to 80 percent of costs associated with closure by removal of coal combustion residuals landfill or surface impoundments against its overearnings.  The measure would require the owner or operator of any coal combustion residuals unit to submit reports on the costs associated with removal of coal combustion residuals landfill or surface impounds.

News Media Items Related to This Legislation

House panel next to consider Senate coal ash legislation, Virginia Business, 2/20/18.

Bill delays closing coal ash ponds, Chesterfield Observer, 2/14/18.

Coal ash dispute headed for more study under bill that clears Senate committee, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/7/18.  Finding a coal ash fix: Legislators propose different options for Dominion waste, Inside NoVa, 1/20/18.

State lawmakers face continuing Bay debates in 2018, Bay Journal, 1/3/18.

Water in the 2018 Virginia General Assembly: Electric Utility Rate Review Bills

This is one of a series of posts on particular water-related bills in the 2018 Virginia General Assembly.  For an inventory of about water-related bills in the 2018 General Assembly, please visit the Virginia Water Resources Research Center’s “Virginia Water Legislation” page, online at http://www.vwrrc.vt.edu/virginia-water-legislation/.  Each post includes a summary of the bill(s), their legislative status (in committee, passed, failed, etc.), and a list of hyperlinked headlines for news media items on the bill(s).  Information on the bills’ provisions and status is taken from the Virginia Legislative Information System (LIS), online at http://leg1.state.va.us/lis.htm.  Each bill number is hyperlinked to the LIS entry for that bill.

Two complicated bills making their way through the 2018 Virginia General Assembly and generating much discussion and scrutiny would change the rate-review structure set up in 2015 General Assembly legislation for Virginia’s two large electric utilities, Dominion Energy Virginia and Appalachian Power Company (a subsidiary of American Electric Power).  The bills have water connections because energy use in general is connected in various ways to water use and impacts, and because these bills have requirements for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and grid modernization (including burying of transmission lines to reduce vulnerability to storms).

HB 1558 Electric utility regulation; grid modernization, energy efficiency programs.  As of 2/22/18, this bill had passed the House (63-35 on 2/13/18) was in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.  The bill is sponsored by Del. Terry Kilgore (R-1st) of Gate City.  The bill involves regulation of the Commonwealth’s two regulated electric utility monopolies,Dominion Energy Virginia and Appalachian Power.  As passed by the House, the bill changes the review periods that were set in legislation passed in 2015 in response to the federal Clean Power Plan regulation, which the Trump Administration moved to rescind, starting in March 2017 (see the March 28, 2017, Executive Order at this link: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/presidential-executive-order-promoting-energy-independence-economic-growth/).  The bills also make public interest determinations on three issues specifically relevant to water: investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency (including weatherization), and grid modernization, including putting transmission lines underground to protect against storm damage.  Please see the LIS entry (click on the bill number above) for a much more detailed summary of this complicated bill’s many provisions.

The companion bill is SB 966, sponsored by Sen. Frank Wagner (R-7th) of Virginia Beach.  As of 2/22/18, this bill had passed the Senate (26-13 on 2/9/18) and it was essentially the same as HB 1558 (with some small differences).  A substitute version was reported from the House Commerce and Labor Committee on 2/20/18.

News Media Items Related to This Legislation
Utility overhaul passes House, but with a big amendment to address “double dip,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, as published by Roanoke Times, 2/13/18.

Electric utility regulation bill advances in both chambers, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/8/18.

State regulators say proposed utility overhaul still limits ability to issue refunds, lower rates, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/7/18.

Bill to undo controversial utility rate freeze faces unfriendly panel Monday as Dominion-favored plan is developed, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1/13/18.

Reducing Carbon Emissions from Power Plants in Virginia – Public Hearings in March 2018 on Proposed Carbon-trading Regulation; Proposal Follows Gov. Executive Directive Issued May 16, 2017

Following is information on Virginia’s process in 2017-18 to develop regulations to reduce carbon emissions from electric power plants.  The latest update to this post is February 21, 2018.

As of February 2018, the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board and Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) were planning a series of public hearings on proposed carbon dioxide (CO2)-trading regulation.  The planned public hearings are as follows (dates are hyperlinked to Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notices):
3/7/18, 5 p.m., at the DEQ Southwest Regional Office, 355 Deadmore Street in Abingdon.  Other public hearings will be as follows:
3/12/18, 5 p.m., at the DEQ Tidewater Regional Office, 5636 Southern Boulevard in Virginia Beach;
3/14/18, 5 p.m., at the DEQ Valley Regional Office, 4411 Early Road in Harrisonburg;
3/15/18, 5 p.m., at the DEQ Northern Regional Office, 13901 Crown Court in Woodbridge (Prince William County);
3/19/18, 1:30 p.m., at the DEQ Central Office, 1111 East Main Street in Richmond.

The pertinent section of the Virginia Administrative Code is 9 VAC 5-140.   More information on this regulatory action is available online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/viewaction.cfm?actionid=4818.  According to the “Action Summary” at that Web site, “[t]he purpose of the proposed action is to develop a regulation, in accordance with Executive Directive 11 (2017), ‘Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Electric Power Facilities and Growing Virginia’s Clean Energy Economy,’ that (i) ensures that Virginia is trading-ready to allow for the use of market-based mechanisms and the trading of carbon dioxide (CO2) allowances through a multi-state trading program, and (ii) establishes abatement mechanisms that provide for a corresponding level of stringency to CO2 limits imposed in other states with such limits.”

On May 16, 2017, then-Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed and announced Executive Directive 11, which instructed the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to begin a process of developing regulations to reduce carbon emissions from electric power plants.  The directive is available online (as a PDF) at http://governor.virginia.gov/media/9155/ed-11-reducing-carbon-dioxide-emissions-from-electric-power-facilities-and-growing-virginias-clean-energy-economy.pdf.  Following is an excerpt from the directive: “I hereby direct the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality, in coordination with the Secretary of Natural Resources, to take the following actions…
1. Develop a proposed regulation for the State Air Pollution Control Board’s consideration to abate, control, or limit carbon dioxide emissions from electric power facilities that: a. Includes provisions to ensure that Virginia’s regulation is “trading-ready” to allow for the use of market-based mechanisms and the trading of carbon dioxide allowances through a multi-state trading program; and b. Establishes abatement mechanisms providing for a corresponding level of stringency to limits on carbon dioxide emissions imposed in other states with such limits.
2. By no later than December 31, 2017, present the proposed regulation to the State Air Pollution Control Board for consideration for approval for public comment….”

The May 16, 2017, directive followed the report on May 12, 2017, of the Executive Order 57 Work Group, which Mr. McAuliffe established in June 2016 to study and make recommendations about reducing carbon emissions from the Commonwealth’s power plants.  The group’s final report, along with more information about Executive Order 57, is available online at https://naturalresources.virginia.gov/initiatives/eo-57/.  Please see this link for a previous Water Central News Grouper post on the Work Group.

On June 26, 2017, a Notice of Intended Regulatory Action was published in the Virginia Register of Regulations.  In August 2017, a Regulatory Advisory Committee was formed to provide advice to the DEQ on development of the CO2 regulations.  The committee held its first meeting on August 3, 2017; information on that meeting is available online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewMeeting.cfm?MeetingID=26367.

Additional Source: Governor McAuliffe Takes Executive Action to Reduce Carbon Emissions Across Virginia; “Clean Energy Virginia” initiative will cap greenhouse gases and grow Virginia’s clean energy economy, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 5/16/17.

Following are some news media accounts on Executive Directive 11, listed from newest to oldest.
Virginia Begins Development of Cap-and-Trade Program for Electric Power Sector, National Law Review, 5/19/17.
Wagner takes aim at McAuliffe carbon order; critics say he’s seeking attention, Daily Press, 5/19/17.
Amid longshot run for governor, Wagner says he’ll call emergency hearing to fight McAuliffe’s climate change plan, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/19/17.
Virginia Governor Orders Power Plant Carbon Regulations, POWER Magazine, 5/18/17.
Bucking D.C. and Republican legislature, Virginia governor moves to limit carbon emissions, ThinkProgress (Center for American Progress Action Fund), 5/17/17.
McAuliffe Moves to Cap Utility Carbon Emissions, Bacon’s Rebellion, 5/17/17.
McAuliffe moves to curb carbon emissions blamed for sea level rise, [Newport News] Daily Press, 5/16/17.
McAuliffe: Virginia will regulate carbon emissions; ‘the threat of climate change is real’, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/16/17.
McAuliffe proposes statewide carbon cap, Washington Post, 5/16/17.
Virginia AG: State board can regulate carbon pollution, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/12/17.
Will Virginia forge its own path on carbon regulation?, Richmond Times-Dispatch,

Virginia Water-related Government Meetings for Feb. 22-Mar. 7, 2018

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

2/24/18, 11 a.m.: Cave Board.  At the Staunton Public Library, 1 Churchville Avenue in Staunton.

2/27/18, 9:30 a.m.: Marine Resources Commission.  At 2600 Washington Avenue in Newport News.

3/2/18, 9:30 a.m.: Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers, and Landscape Architects/Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors section meeting with Virginia Department of Transportation.  At the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, 9960 Mayland Drive in Richmond.

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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?181+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. 10-Mar. 10, 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).  The General Assembly’s Web site, http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/index.php, offers several useful features, including member lists, session calendars, live video of floor sessions, and information on legislative processes.  The Legislative Information System (LIS) Web site, http://lis.virginia.gov/lis.htm, provides lists and summaries of all bills, searchable by topic, member, committee, etc.  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.  As of 2018, live streaming of committee meetings 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.

Two committees that receive many (but not all) of the water-related bills are the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee, which meets weekly on Wednesdays, 8:30 a.m. (2018 location to be determined, as of 1/10/18); 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 the Senate Committee Room on the ground floor of the Pocahontas Building, 900 East Main Street in Richmond.  Information about all standing committees as of the 2018 session—including membership, meeting times, and legislation being considered—is available online at http://lis.virginia.gov/181/com/COM.HTM.

Relevant subcommittee meetings for this period:

2/26/18, 4 p.m.: House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources/Subcommittee #1.  Room E400-B, Pocahontas Building, 900 East Main Street in Richmond.

Natural resource-related caucus meetings for this period:

2/22/18, 7 a.m.: Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus.  House Subcommittee Room 2, Room E200-B, Pocahontas Building, 900 East Main Street in Richmond.

2/26/18, 4:30 p.m.: Virginia Environment and Renewable Energy Caucus.  Room E200-B, Pocahontas Building, 900 East Main Street in Richmond.

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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.

3/6/18, 5:30 p.m., on the watershed plan to address aquatic life (benthic) impairment in Cunningham Creek and its tributaries plus bacterial impairment in Middle Ford Cunningham Creek, all located in the James River basin in Fluvanna County.  At the Fluvanna County Public Library, 214 Comons Boulevard in Palmyra.  According to a Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for a meeting on 8/1/17, these waterways were the subject of a TMDL study that began in February 2016, but in May 2017 the TMDL study was suspended and a watershed plan will be developed instead.

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MEETINGS ON OTHER SPECIFIC TOPICS
(topics listed alphabetically)

Air-Water Connections
3/7/18, 5 p.m.: Air Pollution Control Board/Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public hearing on Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Trading Regulation.  At the DEQ Southwest Regional Office, 355 Deadmore Street in Abingdon.  Other public hearings will be as follows:
3/12/18, 5 p.m., at the DEQ Tidewater Regional Office, 5636 Southern Boulevard in Virginia Beach;
3/14/18, 5 p.m., at the DEQ Valley Regional Office, 4411 Early Road in Harrisonburg;
3/15/18, 5 p.m., at the DEQ Northern Regional Office, 13901 Crown Court in Woodbridge (Prince William County);
3/19/18, 1:30 p.m., at the DEQ Central Office, 1111 East Main Street in Richmond.
The pertinent section of the Virginia Administrative Code is 9 VAC 5-140.   The proposed amendments were published in the Virginia Register of Regulations on 1/8/18; the public comment period runs through 4/9/18.  The proposed amendments follow then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Executive Directive 11 in May 2017 that instructed the DEQ to begin a process of developing regulations to reduce carbon emissions from electric power plants.  Executive Directive 11 is available online (as a PDF) at http://governor.virginia.gov/media/9155/ed-11-reducing-carbon-dioxide-emissions-from-electric-power-facilities-and-growing-virginias-clean-energy-economy.pdf].  A Notice of Intended Regulatory Action was published in the Virginia Register of Regulations on June 26, 2017.  More information on this regulatory action is available online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/viewaction.cfm?actionid=4818.  According to the “Action Summary” at that Web site, “[t]he purpose of the proposed action is to develop a regulation, in accordance with Executive Directive 11 (2017), ‘Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Electric Power Facilities and Growing Virginia’s Clean Energy Economy,’ that (i) ensures that Virginia is trading-ready to allow for the use of market-based mechanisms and the trading of carbon dioxide (CO2) allowances through a multi-state trading program, and (ii) establishes abatement mechanisms that provide for a corresponding level of stringency to CO2 limits imposed in other states with such limits.”

Energy – Wind
2/28/18, 10 a.m.: Offshore Wind Development Authority.  According to the Authority’s Web site, http://wind.jmu.edu/offshore/vowda/index.html, the 2010 Virginia General Assembly (companion bills HB 389 and SB 577) created this Authority to “facilitate, coordinate, and support development of the offshore wind energy industry, offshore wind energy projects, and supply chain vendors….”

Land and Watershed Management
2/26/18, 6 p.m.: Spearhead Trails Board of Directors.  At Dungannon Depot, 344 Phoenix Street in Dungannon (Scott County).  This meeting is sponsored by the Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority, online at https://heartofappalachia.com/.  Spearhead Trials is an initiative of the Southwest Regional Recreation Area; more information is available online at https://spearheadtrails.com/about-us/.

2/27/18, 1 p.m.: Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Interstate Commission for the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB) public meeting (Jan. 17)/Stakeholder Advisory Committee meeting (Feb. 27) on the development of a Salt Management Strategy (SaMS) for the Northern Virginia region (first meeting of this advisory committee).  At the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, Suite 200,
3040 Williams Drive in Fairfax.  According to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for the meeting: “This is a notice for the first meeting of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) for development of the Salt Management Strategy (SaMS).  Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for chloride associated with salt application from snow and ice management have been developed for the Accotink Creek watershed, located in Fairfax County and the City of Fairfax.  These TMDLs are currently in the approval process.  The SaMS is intended to assist in the implementation of the Accotink Creek chloride TMDLs.  The SaMS aims to prepare a strategy that is capable of achieving the target chloride (salt) loads identified in the Accotink Creek TMDLs and that proactively addresses salt application in the broader surrounding region.  The project area for the SaMS includes Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties and the cities of Alexandria, Manassas, Manassas Park, Falls Church, and Fairfax.  For more information on the SaMS visit http://www.deq.virginia.gov/SaMS.aspx.  …All meeting materials related to this project will be posted on the DEQ website at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/SaMS/MeetingMaterials.aspx.

Waste Management/Hazardous Waste
3/6/18, 7 p.m.: Waste Management Board/Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public hearing on a draft permit for the NASA Goddard Space Flight Facility Center’s Wallops Flight Facility to manage hazardous waste in Wallops Island (Accomack County).  At the Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center, Building J20, Route 175, on Chincoteague Road in Wallops Island.  According to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for the March 6 meeting, “NASA Wallops applied for a reissued permit on May 19, 2015, for thermal treatment of propellant by open burning.  The draft permit will allow the facility to thermally treat rocket motors and loose propellant grains by open burning.”  The public comment period on the draft permit runs 2/2/18 to 4/3/18.

Water Quality Regulations and Standards
2/26/18: 10 a.m.: Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Regulatory Advisory Panel on the James River Chlorophyll Study.  At the DEQ’s Central Office 1111 East Main Street in Richmond.  The panel is assisting the DEQ on possible amendments to the existing chlorophyll-a criteria.  Part of the group’s work is to review the James River chlorophyll Science Advisory Panel’s information resulting from a five-year study.  The pertinent section in the Virginia Administrative Code is VAC 25-260-310 bb.

Virginia Precipitation and Stream Flow for the 7-day Period Ending February 19, 2018, Plus an Overview of Flooding Nationwide and a Mid-Month Drought Assessment

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 February 19, 2018 (information available as of February 20).
  2. An excerpt from the Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force’s latest statewide assessment on February 1 and a map showing the status of several drought indicators in different Virginia regions, as of February 19.
  3. Flooding overview maps for Virginia and nationwide, as of February 20.

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 and West Virginia Science Center’s Web site, https://www.usgs.gov/centers/va-wv-water.

Feb2018 GAGE Goose Creek nr Leesburg along Watson Road off Evergreen Mill Rd Jan20 2018

February 2018 Gaging Station of the Month: Goose Creek near Leesburg (Loudoun County), January 20, 2018.  U.S. Geological Survey information from this gage is online at https://waterdata.usgs.gov/va/nwis/inventory/?site_no=01644000.  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 February 19, 2018.  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 Feb19Precipperc Feb19 

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 February 20, 2018.  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.

PrecipUS Feb 20

Stream Flow

Seven-day-average stream flows at Virginia gaging stations as of February 19, 2018, 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 Feb19

KEEP on deskto - Stream flow code graph

Flooding Overview

As of about 11:30 a.m. EST on February 20, 2018, 2 stream-gaging stations in Virginia or in nearby areas of adjacent states 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 VA FEb20Flooding 02 US Feb20

Mid-month Drought Status Update

The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force (DMTF), a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its latest Virginia drought-status report as of February 1, 2018.  The report is available at the DMTF Web site, http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/Drought.aspx.  The Task Force was scheduled to meet again on March 8, 2018.

Following is an excerpt from the February 2018 report (a map of Virginia’s Drought Evaluation Regions follows this excerpt):
“Recorded precipitation during January was variable across the Commonwealth, with generally above normal amounts in eastern Virginia and continued below normal amounts across most of the central and western regions.  The majority of streamflow gaging stations continue to report below-normal seven-day average flows.  Wells in the Virginia Climate Response network of groundwater level observation wells located in central Virginia also continued to report below normal to much-below-normal levels.

“…The National Weather Service Monthly Drought Outlook released on January 31, 2018 indicated a likelihood of continuing drought across central Virginia through February.  The current U. S. Seasonal Drought Outlook for the period through April 30, 2018 (released January 18, 2018) also  indicated drought persistence across the same region.

“The DMTF discussed the continuing drought conditions throughout the central half of the state, as well as the abnormally dry conditions in the southwest. The Task Force decided to recommend that a Drought Watch Advisory should be issued for the Upper James drought evaluation region based upon below normal groundwater levels, stream flows and subsequent below-normal reservoir levels.  The group also agreed that the existing Drought Watch Advisories in six regions (Chowan, Middle James, Northern Piedmont, Northern Virginia, Roanoke River and Shenandoah) should continue.  If the pattern of below-normal precipitation during the winter “leaf-off” period continues through February, most of the state will have experienced a second consecutive winter season with low recharge to the groundwater system.  These conditions may have serious impacts upon water availability during the next growing season due to low water table levels and subsequent low base flow in streams.”

The Task Force also produces a map rating drought-status indicators.  Shown below is the map for February 19, 2017.  The status-indicator abbreviations on that map are as follows: GW = groundwater levels, Prcp = precipitation deficits, Res = reservoir storage, and Flow = stream flow conditions.  For each region of Virginia, the indicators are color coded for “normal,” “watch,” “warning,” or “emergency conditions.”  [ADD as called for: Note the emergency-conditions code (in red) for groundwater in one region and stream flow in one region.]  Any given day’s current map and more information on drought status in Virginia are available the Task Force Web site, http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/Drought.aspx.

Drought VA Feb 19

Drinking Water Issues in 11 Cities Worldwide Described in February 2018 BBC Article

The 11 Cities Most Likely to Run Out of Drinking Water,” BBC News, February 11, 2018, is available online at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-42982959.  The article gives brief overviews of water-supply issues in the following cities (listed in the order presented in the article): São Paulo, Brazil; Bangalore, India; Beijing, China; Cairo, Egypt; Jakarta, Indonesia; Moscow, Russia; Istanbul, Turkey; Mexico City, Mexico; London, England; Tokyo, Japan; and Miami in the United States.