Drought around Atlanta, Ga., in 2016

Since mid-summer 2016, areas around Atlanta, Georgia, have been in “severe” or “extreme” drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor’s weekly reports.  The Drought Monitor (produced at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and available online at http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/) identifies five levels of dry conditions: D0 = abnormally dry; D1 = moderate drought; D2 = severe drought; D3 = extreme drought; D4 = exceptional drought.  For example, the July 5, 2016, report categorized about 28 percent of the Peach State (concentrated in the northern section) in severe drought and about 7 percent in extreme drought, with an estimated 6.7 million people n drought-affected areas.  In the Drought Monitor report for October 25, 2016, the percentages for Georgia were 49.9 percent in severe drought, 33.7 percent in extreme drought, and 12.1 percent in exceptional drought, again concentrated in the northern half of the state, including Atlanta.  Below are the October 25 and July 5 Drought Monitor maps and tables of statistics for Georgia.  Following the map are some news media accounts about dry conditions in and around metropolitan Atlanta and in the state’s peach-growing regions, along with some other drought-information resources for Georgia.

20161025_ga_trdGeorgia drought

Some news media accounts of Georgia drought in 2016

Drought deepens, fire danger increases for metro Atlanta, WXIA TV-Atlanta, 10/21/16.

Officials Declare Drought In Atlanta, North Georgia, WABE FM-Atlanta, 9/9/16.

Atlanta drought stretches into 6th straight month, WGCL TV-Altanta, 9/9/16.

Drought affects GA peach harvest, WSB TV/Atlanta, 7/5/16.

Drought Conditions Expand Around Atlanta, North Georgia, WABE 90.1 FM/Atlanta, 7/1/16.

Severe drought expands in Georgia, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 6/23/16.

As feared drought in Georgia worsens, Kirk Mellish’s Weather Commentary, WSB 95.5 FM/Atlanta, 6/23/16.

Other Georgia drought-information resources

Georgia Department of Natural Resources/Division of Environmental Protection, “Water Conservation,” online at https://epd.georgia.gov/water-conservation.

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), “Georgia DroughtWatch,” onlne at http://ga.water.usgs.gov/drought/.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/National Centers for Environmental Information, “Drought–September 2016,” online at https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/drought/201609.

Virginia Water-related Government Meetings for Oct. 27-Nov. 14, 2016

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.


10/27/16, 9 a.m.: Board for Waterworks and Wastewater Works Operators and Onsite Sewage System Professionals.  At the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, 9960 Mayland Drive in Richmond.

11/1/16, 9:30 a.m.: Marine Resources Commission.  At 2600 Washington Avenue in Newport News.

11/2/16, 10 a.m.: Board of Conservation and Recreation.  At Murphy Hall, Westmoreland State Park in Montross (Westmoreland County).

11/3/16, 10:30 a.m.: Virginia Land Conservation Foundation Board of Trustees’ working group on the Foundation’s grant manual and scoring.  At the Department of Conservation and Recreation, 600 East Main Street in Richmond.

11/10/16, 9:30 a.m.: Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers, and Landscape Architects/Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors Section.  At the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, 9960 Mayland Drive in Richmond.

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For meetings of legislative committees and commissions, see http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?151+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.

None during this period.

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For more information about TMDLs in Virginia, click here for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality TMDL Web site; click on “Public Notices” in the menu to the left to access upcoming meetings and public-comment periods.  A search tool to find approved TMDL reports is available at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterQualityInformationTMDLs/TMDL/TMDLDevelopment/ApprovedTMDLReports.aspx.

10/27/16, 6 p.m., on the TMDL implementation plan for bacterial impairments in the Clinch River and tributaries North Fork Clinch River, Blackwater Creek, Copper Creek, Cove Creek, Moll Creek, Stock Creek, and Valley Creek, all segments located in Upper Tennessee River basin in Lee, Russell, and Scott counties.  At the Crooked Road Tech Center, 372 Technology Trail Lane in Duffield (Scott County).

11/1/16, 6:30 p.m., on the TMDL implementation plan for aquatic life (benthic) impairments in the Little Calfpasture River, located in the James River basin in Rockbridge County.  The meetings, which is of working group on agriculture, is at the Goshen Volunteer Fire Hall, 140 Main Street in Goshen.

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(topics listed alphabetically)

Biosolids (Treated Sewage Sludge) Land-application Permit Requests
11/2/16, 6 p.m.: On the permit-modification application by Recyc Systems, Inc., of Remington, Va., to land-apply biosolids to about 497 acres in Clarke County.  At the Clarke County Government Main Meeting Room, 101 Chalmers Court in Berryville.

Energy – Climate Change
10/31/16, 1 p.m.: Executive Order 57 Working Group.  At 1111 East Broad Street in Richmond.  This group, established by Executive Order 57, issued by Gov. Terry McAuliffe on June 28, 2016, is to evaluate options under existing authority for the Commonwealth to reduce carbon emissions from the energy sector.  Executive Order 57 is available online at https://governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/newsarticle?articleId=15762.

Energy – Wind
11/10/16, 10 a.m.: Offshore Wind Development Authority.  At the Capitol Building, House Room 1, 1000 Bank Street in Richmond.  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….”

11/7/16, 6 p.m.: Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) informal conference on the application for renewal of a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for Paramont Coal Corporation VA LLC.  At Haysi Town Hall, 332 Main Street in Haysi.  The proposed permit area is located 1.8 miles northeast of Haysi on Route 608 in Dickenson County (in the Russell Fork/Big Sandy River basin).

11/14/16, 5 p.m.: Virginia Port Authority Executive Committee.  At 600 World Trade Center, 101 West Main Street in Norfolk.  The online notice for this meeting states that most of the meeting will be held in closed session.  Also on that day at the same location, the Port Authority’s Growth and Operations Committee will meet at 2 p.m., the Finance and Audit Committee will meet at 3:45 p.m.

State Parks
11/10/16, 6 p.m.: Department of Conservation and Recreation public meeting on an update to the Mason Neck State Park Master Plan.  At Mason Neck State Park Visitor Center, 7301 High Point Road in Lorton (Fairfax County).

10/31/16, 10 a.m.: Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Stormwater Stakeholder Advisory Group on Virginia Erosion and Stormwater Management Program fees.  At the DEQ Piedmont Regional Office, 4949-A Cox Road in Glen Allen (Henrico County).  According to the Regulatory Town Hall notice about this meeting, “Item 8 of Chapters 68 and 758 of the 2016 Acts of Assembly directs DEQ to evaluate fees related to the consolidated Virginia Erosion and Stormwater Management Program (VESMP) in order to determine whether the program can be funded adequately under the current fee structure.  The legislation [HB 1250 and SB 673] provided that Virginia Stormwater Management Program Authorities and Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control Program Authorities were to submit information to DEQ by August 1, 2016, and directed DEQ to conduct its evaluation based on revenues and resource needs from July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2016.  DEQ is convening a Stakeholders Advisory Group (SAG) to review the Department’s evaluation and consider the need to establish revised fees to fund the consolidated VESMP.”  The DEQ’s Web page for the Virginia Stormwater Management Program is http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/StormwaterManagement.aspx.

Virginia Outdoors Plan
10/27/16, 10 a.m.: Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) public meeting on the Virginia Outdoors Plan.  At Farmville-Prince Edward Community Library, 1303 West Third Street in Farmville (Prince Edward County).  In August 2016 the DCR began a series of public meetings on the Outdoors Plan.  The DCR is working with Virginia’s planning district commissions and regional councils to review outdoor recreation and land conservation initiatives related to the Outdoors Plan, which is a comprehensive blueprint for acquisition, development, and management of outdoor recreation and open space resources.  The first plan was developed in 1966; the most recent update, the 11th, was done in 2013).  More information on the Outdoors Plan is available online at http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/recreational_planning/vop.shtml.

The DCR intends to hold public meetings in every region.
Other upcoming meetings are the following (according to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall, as of 9/12/16):
11/17/16, 10 a.m., at Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Commission, 420 Southridge Parkway in Culpeper.
12/6/16, 10 a.m., at Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission, 125 Bowden Street in Saluda (Middlesex County).

Previous meetings included the following:
8/30/16, 10 a.m., at the Northern Neck Enterprise Center, 483 Main Street in Warsaw (Richmond County).
9/6/16, 10:30 a.m., at Tabb Library 100 Long Green Boulevard in Yorktown (York County).
9/7/16, 10 a.m., at the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, 3040 Williams Drive in Fairfax.
9/8/16, 1:30 p.m., at the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, 723 Woodlake Drive in Chesapeake.
9/26/16, 10 a.m., at the West Piedmont Planning District Commission, 1100 Madison Street in Martinsville.
9/27/16, 10 a.m., at New River Valley Regional Commission, 6580 Valley Center Drive in Radford.
9/27/16, 2:45 p.m., at Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission, 224 Clydesway Drive, Lebanon (Russell County).
9/28/16, 10 a.m., at Mount Rogers Planning District Commission, 1021 Terrace Drive in Marion (Smyth County).
9/29/16, 9:30 a.m., at Lenowisco Planning District Commission, 372 Technology Trail Lane, Duffield (Scott County).
9/30/16, 10 a.m., at Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission, Virginia Horse Center, 487 Maury River Road in Lexington.
10/4/16, 10 a.m.: At Southside Planning District Commission, 200 South Mecklenburg Avenue in South Hill (Mecklenburg County).
10/6/16, 1 p.m., at Richmond Regional Planning District Commission, 9211 Forest Hill Avenue in Richmond.
10/12/16, 12 p.m., at Crater Planning District Commission, 1964 Wakefield Street in Petersburg.
10/13/16, 2 p.m., at George Washington Regional Commission, 406 Princess Anne Street in Fredericksburg.
10/18/16, 10 a.m., at Region 2000 Local Government Council, 828 Main Street in Lynchburg.
10/18/16, 3 p.m., at Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission, 313 Luck Avenue, SW, in Roanoke.
10/25/16, 2 p.m., at Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission, 400-E Kendrick Lane in Front Royal (Warren County).
10/26/16, 2 p.m., at Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission, 407 East Water Street in Charlottesville.

Waste Management – Solid Waste
11/9/16, 7 p.m.: Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public hearing on a draft permit modification for the King George County Sanitary Landfill and Recycling Facility, regarding increasing the landfill’s elevation and capacity.  At the King George High School Auditorium, 10100 Foxes Way in King George.  The public comment period runs 10/5/16 to 11/30/16.

Philpott Dam Releases on Smith River – Fall 2016 Debate over Fishing and Paddling Impacts

Trout fishing, stream paddling, tourism, fishing licenses, and hydroelectric power generation are all part of a debate in fall 2016 on the Smith River, a Dan River/Roanoke River tributary.  Philpott Dam and Reservoir, on the Smith River in Franklin, Henry, and Patrick counties, are U.S. Army Corps of Engineers facilities intended to provide hydropower, recreation, flood control, water supply, low-flow augmentation, and fish/wildlife habitat (more information on Philpott is available online at http://epec.saw.usace.army.mil/roanphil.htm).  The debate focuses on the volume and timing of releases from Philpott Dam and how those releases affect fishing and boating below the dam in Franklin and Henry counties.  The debate is described in a 10/25/16 column by Bill Cochran, outdoors writer for the Roanoke Times: Anglers and paddlers differ over Smith River management.

Virginia Precipitation and Stream Flow for the 7-day Period Ending October 25, 2016

Below are images showing precipitation in Virginia and other areas of the southeastern United States, and stream flow in Virginia, over the seven-day period ending October 25, 2016 (information available as of October 26).  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/.

oct-2016-gage-north-fork-shenandoah-river-near-strasburg-rt-55-oct13-2012October 2016 Gaging Station of the Month: North Fork Shenandoah River at U.S. Route 55 near Strasburg (Shenandoah County), October 13, 2012.


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 October 25, 2016.  The maps were accessed from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Southeast Regional Climate Center, located at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill; online at http://www.sercc.com/climateinfo/precip_maps.  As of that date, these data were provisional (needing to be verified for accuracy and subject to possible revision).

Another source of precipitation data is the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, http://water.weather.gov/precip/, 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.  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.

Stream Flow

Seven-day-average Virginia stream flows at different gaging stations as of October 25, 2016, are indicated in the map below, from the U.S. Geological Survey 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.

streams-oct25stream codes

Virginia State Water Commission Meets November 30, 2016, in Richmond

Virginia’s State Water Commission will meet November 30, 2016, at 10 a.m., in House Room C of the General Assembly Building, 201 North 9th Street in Richmond.  More information on the meeting is available online at http://studies.virginiageneralassembly.gov/meetings/409, or from the Virginia House of Delegates’ Clerk’s Office/Committee Operations, phone (804) 698-1540.

According to the Division of Legislative Service’s Web page on the Commission, at http://dls.virginia.gov/commissions/swc.htm, the Virginia General Assembly created the Commission to “study all aspects of water supply and allocation problems in the Commonwealth, whether these problems are of a quantitative or qualitative nature; and coordinate the legislative recommendations of all other state entities having responsibilities with respect to water supply and allocation issues.”  The Commission includes mostly members of the General Assembly plus two citizens.

The current members of the Commission are as follows:
Del. Thomas C. Wright, Jr., Chair
Del. David L. Bulova
Del. T. Scott Garrett
Del. Barry D. Knight
Del. Daniel W. Marshall, III
Del. John M. O’Bannon, III
Del. Luke E. Torian
Del. R. Lee Ware, Jr.
Sen. Lynwood W. Lewis, Jr.
Sen. Frank M. Ruff, Jr.
Sen. William M. Stanley, Jr.
Sen. Richard H. Stuart
Sen. Frank W. Wagner
Mr. Lamont W. Curtis
Mr. Richard A. Street

Virginia Sea Grant Offering Coastal/Marine Policy Fellowships Starting June 1, 2017; Applications Due January 23, 2017

Virginia Sea Grant will offer 12-month, paid fellowships starting June 1, 2017.  The application deadline is January 23, 2017.  The objective of the Commonwealth Coastal and Marine Policy Fellowship is to provide educational and professional development opportunities for post-graduates interested in Virginia’s coastal and marine resources.

Those eligible for the fellowships are graduate students close to completing their degree (Masters, Ph.D., or J.D.) in a coastal- or marine-related or relevant field at a Virginia university or college; and graduates from a Virginia university or college in the spring semester 2016 or after.

The fellowships will involve on-the-job training with a Virginia host agency along with learning about state-level policy and management processes.  Virginia Sea Grant and its sponsoring partners, the Virginia Environmental Endowment the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, anticipate supporting three fellows for the period starting June 2017.  The fellowship announcement is available online at http://vaseagrant.vims.edu/fellowships-interships/2017-commonwealth-coastal-marine-policy-fellowship/.  For more information:
Samuel J. Lake, Fellowship & Research Program Coordinator
Virginia Sea Grant
PO Box 1346, Gloucester Pt., VA 23062
Phone (804) 684-7436
Fax (804) 684-7269
Email: sjlake@vims.edu

Hurricane Matthew in Virginia: Governor Requests Federal Disaster Declaration on Oct. 21, 2016

On October 21, 2016, Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe asked President Obama for a federal disaster declaration for the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Here is an excerpt from the governor’s office news release on the disaster declaration request:

“The Governor requested Individual Assistance Programs and Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loans for the cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach, as well as Isle of Wight and York counties.  …The Individual Assistance Programs include the Individuals and Households Program, Transitional Sheltering Assistance, Disaster Case Management, Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Crisis Counseling, and Disaster Legal Services.  If the declaration is granted, these programs would provide affected Virginians with assistance for disaster housing, unemployment assistance, individual housing grants, legal services and crisis counseling.  During the damage assessments—which began Friday [October 14] and were conducted jointly through Tuesday [October 18] by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM), FEMA, the SBA, and localities—more than 2,000 homes were determined to have damage from Matthew, ranging from minor to destroyed.  Many of these homes were uninsured because they lie outside the flood zones.  The storm displaced approximately 620 individuals due to flooding.  The damage assessment teams also identified an initial $13.2 million in estimated damages sustained by public facilities and structures.”

Source: Governor McAuliffe Requests Federal Disaster Declaration Following Hurricane Matthew, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 10/21/16.

For more information about Hurricane Matthew, please see this Water Central News Grouper post: Hurricane Matthew Media Accounts and Government Information Sources as of October 21, 2016.