Draft Regulation on Reducing Carbon Emissions by Electricity-generating Plants in Virginia Approved Nov. 16, 2017, by Air Pollution Control Board

On November 16, 2017, the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board approved a draft regulation that would place a cap in 2020 on carbon emissions by the Commonwealth’s electricity generators; require by 2030 a 30-percent reduction in  that sector’s carbon emissions; and have Virginia join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Inititative (RGGI; online at  https://www.rggi.org/), a carbon-trading market between states.  The draft regulation will undergo a 60-day public-comment period before the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) writes a final version of the regulation, which would also require approval by the Air Pollution Control Board.

More information on this regulatory process is available online (in the PDF of the Board’s November 16 meeting agenda), at http://www.townhall.virginia.gov/L/GetFile.cfm?File=C:\TownHall\docroot\Meeting\1\26694\Agenda_DEQ_26694_v1.pdf.

This regulation follows from Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Executive Directive 11, issued in May 2017, which instructed the DEQ to begin a process of regulating carbon emissions from electricity-generating plants.  For more on that directive, please see this Water Central News Grouper item.

News Media Articles on the Draft Regulation (listed most recent first)
Virginia regulators approve carbon cap-and-trade plan, Associated Press, as published by Lynchburg News & Advance, 11/16/17.

Virginia Launches Plan to Join East Coast Carbon Market, Cut Emissions 30%, Inside Climate News, 11/16/17.

Virginia State Air Pollution Control Board approves draft rule that would regulate power plant carbon emissions, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11/16/17.

Virginia Moves to Join RGGI Carbon-trading Market, POWER, 11/15/17.


Virginia Water-related Government Meetings for Nov. 17-Nov. 29, 2017

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.


11/17/17, 1 p.m.: Aquaculture Advisory Board.  At the Marriott City Center, 740 Town Center Drive in Newport News.

11/20/17, 10 a.m.: Board for Professional and Occupational Regulation.  At the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, 9960 Mayland Drive in Richmond.

11/21/17, 9 a.m.: Gas and Oil Board.  At the Russell County Office Building, 139 Highland Drive in Lebanon.

11/28/17, 10 a.m.: Land Conservation Foundation Board of Trustees.  At the Patrick Henry Building, West Reading Room, 1111 East Broad Street in Richmond.

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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.

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.

None during this period.

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(topics listed alphabetically)

Energy – Solar
11/27/17, 1 p.m: Virginia Solar Energy Development and Energy Storage Authority.  At the Capitol Building, House Room 1, 1000 Bank Street in Richmond.  The 2015 General Assembly (SB 1099) created this Authority to facilitate, coordinate, and support the development of the solar energy industry and solar-powered electric energy facilities in the Commonwealth.  The 2017 General Assembly (SB 1258) changed its name to add “energy storage” and added to its purposes to position the Commonwealth as a leader in energy-storage technology.

Fort Monroe
12/15/16, 1 p.m.: Fort Monroe Authority Board of Trustees.  At Paradise Ocean Club, 490 Fenwick Road in Fort Monroe.  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/.

Water Quality Regulations and Standards
11/28/17, 2 a.m.: State Water Control Board/Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public hearing on the triennial review of water-quality standards for bacteria, ammonia, cadmium and human health criteria) (9 VAC 25-260 in the Virginia Administrative Code.)  At the DEQ Blue Ridge Regional Office, 3019 Peters Creek Road in Roanoke.  According to DEQ information online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterQualityInformationTMDLs/WaterQualityStandards/LawsMandates.aspx, Virginia Code section 62.1-44.15 (3a), part of Virginia’s State Water Control Law, requires the State Water Control Board to review and update the Commonwealth’s water-quality standards at least every three years.  The Board conducted a triennial review in 2015, but the Board deferred to a separate rule-making updates to freshwater aquatic life criteria for ammonia, amendments to the 94 human health criteria, and new EPA recommendations for recreation waters criteria (bacteria) and aquatic life (potentially for cadmium and selenium) (Board action taken at January 14, 2016, meeting).  The proposed amendments on these itmes were published in the Virginia Register of Regulations on September 18, 2017.  The public comment period runs 9/18/17 to 12/8/17.  More information on these proposed amendments is available online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/viewaction.cfm?actionid=3171&display=stages.  More information on the triennial review overall is available online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewAction.cfm?actionid=4017.

Virginia Precipitation and Stream Flow for the 7-day Period Ending November 13, 2017, 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 November 13, 2017 (information available as of November 14).
  2. An excerpt from the Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force’s latest statewide assessment on , 2017, and a map showing the status of several drought indicators in different Virginia regions, as of November 14.
  3. Flooding overview maps for Virginia and nationwide, as of November 14.

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/.

GAGE Nov2017 Opequon Creek near Berryville at Rt 7 bridge Nov28 2010

November 2017 Gaging Station of the Month: Opequon Creek at U.S. Route 7 at the Clarke County/Frederick County line, November 28, 2010. U.S. Geological Survey information from this gage is online at https://waterdata.usgs.gov/va/nwis/uv?site_no=01615000. For the Virginia map of gaging sites, see https://waterdata.usgs.gov/va/nwis/rt.


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 November 13, 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 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.  Maps for other regions are available online at https://hprcc.unl.edu/maps.php?map=ACISClimateMaps.

Precip Nov13PrecippercNov13

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 11/14/17.  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 Nov14

Stream Flow

Seven-day-average Virginia stream flows at gaging stations as of November 13, 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 Nov13

KEEP on deskto - Stream flow code graph

Flooding Overview

As of about 2:30 p.m. EST on November 14, 2017, about 7 stream-gaging stations in or adjacent to Virginia were [add as necessary: 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 Nov14

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 on November 3, 2017.  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 December 7, 2017.

Following is an excerpt from the November 3 report:

“During October, above-normal precipitation fell on much of the state, including southwestern Virginia, the lower (northern) Shenandoah Valley, and portions of central and eastern Virginia.  However, many locations outside of these areas received substantially lower than normal rainfall.  Streamflow gaging stations reported a wide range of flow conditions, with many stations across central and southern Virginia reporting below-normal flows (less than the 25th percentile).

“Most of the wells in the Virginia Climate Response network of groundwater level observation wells were reporting normal levels, except for the wells in central Virginia, which continued to report below normal levels….

“The most recent (October 19, 2017) U. S. Seasonal Drought Outlook for the period through January 31, 2018, indicated that the drought conditions in south-central Virginia may persist or even expand.  However, the

Monthly Drought Outlook released on October 31, 2017 indicated a likelihood of drought removal in this region. Task Force members from the NWS and Virginia Climatology Office pointed out that the long-term (three-month) forecast for Virginia is very uncertain due to the current ENSO–La Nina forecast.

“After discussion regarding the current hydrologic conditions and existing water use restrictions in several of the drought evaluation regions, the DMTF recommended continuing the existing Drought Watches in the Northern Piedmont, Middle James, Roanoke River and Shenandoah drought evaluation regions.  The next DMTF meeting was scheduled for December 7, 2017.  However, if normal to above normal precipitation conditions continue throughout the Shenandoah drought evaluation region, the DMTF may meet before that time to discuss a recommendation for lifting the drought watch declaration in that region.

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Wilmington NC District reported that inflow conditions have improved somewhat at the Philpott and J. H. Kerr reservoirs in the Roanoke basin (especially Philpott).  The water levels at Philpott and J. H. Kerr dams are approximately 1.5 feet and 2.5 feet below guide curve, respectively.  There is some concern, however, that levels at J. H. Kerr may reach that reservoir’s winter drought warning level later this month.”

The Task Force also produces a map rating drought-status indicators.  Shown below is the map for November 14, 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.”  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 Nov14

Proper Well Abandonment is Well Worth Discussing on the 30th Anniversary in 2017 of “Baby Jessica” in Texas

On October 16, 1987, 18-month-old Jessica McClure was rescued from an abandoned water well in Midland, Texas.  The October 2017 issue of The Cross Section, from the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District in Lubbock, Tex., recalls the “Baby Jessica” story as a cautionary tale for the proper closure and sealing of wells that will not longer be used—a task of importance not only for safety of humans and animals but also for groundwater protection.  The newsletter is available online at http://www.hpwd.org/the-cross-section/; or contact the District at 2930 Avenue Q, Lubbock, TX 79411-2499l (806) 762-0181.

Following are some Virginia information resources related to well abandonment and sealing in Virginia.

*Virginia law on sealing temporarily or permanently abandoned wells is online at https://law.lis.virginia.gov/admincode/title12/agency5/chapter630/section450/.

*Water well tips from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation are available online at http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/lokwaterwell, or contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District  (the District Directory is available onlinee at http://vaswcd.org/district-directory).

*“Proper Permanent Well Abandonment for Virginia Coastal Plain Wells,” from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Health, is available online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Portals/0/DEQ/Water/GroundwaterPermitting/DocumentsandForms/2017/DEQFactsheet-WellAbandonment2014.pdf?ver=2017-03-23-123639-840.

*Some Virginia localities also provide information on proper well abandonment.

The Challenges of Wave Energy – An Overview on the Nov. 12, 2017, PBS NewsHour

On November 12, 2017, the PBS NewsHour broadcast “Scientists work to harness power from Hawaii’s waves,” available online at https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/scientists-work-to-harness-power-from-hawaiis-waves#audio.  Focusing on work being done in Hawaii, the 8 min./6 sec. segment examines efforts by scientists and entrepreneurs to develop technology that can generate electricity from ocean waves at an economically viable, commercial scale.  The report includes comments on the challenges of capturing wave energy from George Hagerman, a senior research associate with Virginia Tech’s Center for Energy and the Global Environment.

National Hurricane Center’s Graphical Atlantic Tropical Weather Outlook for 2 Days and 5 Days, as of November 13, 2017

Here’s a look at the National Hurricane Center’s (NHC) Atlantic tropical weather outlook for the next few days.  The Virginia Water Central News Grouper posts these outlooks approximately weekly (depending on the level of weather activity) during the Atlantic tropical storm season (June 1-November 30).  As of the morning of about noon on November 13, 2017, a pre-tropical disturbance in the Atlantic Ocean, about 525 miles southwest of the Azore Islands, was being given a 30-percent chance of tropical cyclone formation within 2 days and a 50-percent chance within 5 days.  Shown below are the NHC’s two-day and five-day graphical tropical weather outlook maps as of early afternoon on November 13, accessed at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/.
Tropical storms 2 day Nov13Tropical storms 5 day Nov13

On Virginia Water Radio for Veterans Day 2017: The U.S. Army

Virginia Water Radio’s episode for the week of November 13, 2017, is “For Veterans Day 2017 – The U.S. Army and Its Wide-ranging Water Connections.”  The 4 min./31 sec. episode, available online at http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/2017/11/episode-394-11-13-17-for-veterans-day.html, is the latest in a series of annual episodes on the military services in honor of Veterans Day.

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!