Happy 60th Anniversary in 2017 for the Great Stalacpipe Organ in Virginia’s Luray Caverns

The year 2017 marks the 60th anniversary of  the debut of the Great Stalacpipe Organ in Luray Caverns in Page County, Virginia.  The Great Stalacpipe Organ, created over three years in the 1950s by Leland Sprinkle of Springfield, Virginia, uses rubber-tipped mallets to strike stalactites, which produce sounds with various tones and pitches.

A June 21, 2017, PBS NewsHour segment (2 min./49 sec.) on the organ is available online at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/virginia-cavern-can-play-moonlight-sonata/.

More information on the creator of the organ is available in “Inside the Great Stalacpipe Organ: The World’s Largest Instrument,” by Blake Madden (April 15, 2015), online at http://www.trustmeimascientist.com/2015/04/15/inside-the-great-stalacpipe-organ-the-worlds-largest-instrument/.

For a Virginia Water Radio episode featuring the Great Stalacpipe Organ, please see “In the Cave” by Pepe Deluxé, for Virginia Cave Week (Episode 158, week of 4-22-13; 2 min./56 sec.).

Virginia Water-related Government Meetings for June 22-July 5, 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.


6/22/17, 9:30 a.m.: Air Pollution Control Board.  At the Department of Environmental Quality Piedmont Regional Office, 4949-A Cox Road in Glen Allen (Henrico County).

6/22/17, 10 a.m.: Outdoors Foundation Board of Trustees.  At the public library on Caroline Street in Fredericksburg.

6/27/17, 9:30 a.m.: Marine Resources Commission.  At 2600 Washington Avenue in Newport News.

6/29/17, 1 p.m.: Land Conservation Foundation Grant Workshop.  At the Virginia Department of Forestry, 900 Natural Resources Drive in Charlottesville.

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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.

6/22/17, 6 p.m., on the TMDL study of bacterial impairments in the Rappahannock River and several tributaries (Baylors Creek, Elmwood Creek and an unamed tributary to Elmwood Creek, Jetts Creek, Mill Creek, Peedee Creek and an unnamed tributary to Peedee Creek, Portobago Creek, and Stillwater Creek), located in the Chesapeake Bay basin in Essex, Caroline, King George, Richmond, and Westmoreland counties.  At Westmoreland Fire Department, 52 Rectory Road in Montross.

6/27/17, 1 p.m., on the TMDL study of aquatic life (dissolved oxygen) and bacterial impairments in the Rudee Inlet watershed (including Lake Rudee, Lake Wesley, and Owl Creek, located in the Atlantic Ocean basin in the City of Virginia Beach.  At the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, 717 General Booth Boulevard in Virginia Beach.

6/28/17, on the TMDL study of aquatic life (benthic) impairments in Accotink Creek and Long Branch (Potomac River watershed) in Fairfax County and the City of Fairfax.  At Kings Park Library Meeting Room, 9000 Burke Lake Road in Burke.

6/29/17, 2 p.m., on the TMDL modification process for aquatic life (benthic) and bacterial impairments in Blacks Run and Cooks Creek, located in the Shenandoah River/Potomac River wateshed in Rockingham County and the City of Harrisonburg.  At the Department of Environmental Quality Valley Regional Office, 4411 Early Road in Harrisonburg.

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(topics listed alphabetically)

Air-Water Connections
6/26/17, 6:30 p.m.: Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public hearing on a draft permit modification for air emissions from Perdue Grain and Oilseed, LLC, in Chesapeake.  At the South Norfolk Memorial Library Meeting Room, 801 Poindexter Street in Chesapeake.  The permit covers natural gas and diesel fuel emissions of volatile organic compounds, particulates, nitrous oxides, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen sulfide.

6/23/17, 9 a.m.: Board of Agriculture and Consumer ServicesPesticide Fee Regulatory Advisory Panel.  At the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services office, 102 Governor Street in Richmond.  The panel is advising the board and department on possible amendments to adjust the fees established in the Virginia Administrative Code Section 2 VAC 5-675 et seq.

Soil and Water Conservation Districts
6/27/17, 10 a.m.: Board of Soil and Water Conservation’s District Audit Subcommitee.  At the Virginia Department of Forestry, 900 Natural Resources Drive in Charlottesville.

State Parks
6/29/17, 3 p.m.: Natural Bridge State Park Master Plan Advisory Committee.  At Natural Bridge Hotel, 15 Appledore Lane in Natural Bridge (Rockbridge County).

Water Quality Regulations and Standards
6/22/17, 10 a.m.: Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) technical advisory committee on proposed amendments to the general Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (VPDES) permit for concrete products facilities.  At the Virginia Department of Fire Programs Training Room, 1005 Technology Park Drive in Glen Allen (Henrico County).  The relevant section of the Virginia Administrative Code is 9 VAC 25-193.

6/28/17, 10 a.m.: Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public meeting on proposed amendments to the Water Quality Management Planning Regulation for the James River Basin nitrogen and phosphorus waste load allocations to restore the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal rivers (Section 9 VAC 25-720-60 C in the Virginia Administrative Code).  At the DEQ main office, 629 Main Street in Richmond.  More information on this regulatory process is available online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewNotice.cfm?gnid=712.  According to the notice at that Web site, “[t]he amendments that are the subject of this notice…would reduce the existing Total Nitrogen waste load allocation for the Dominion-Chesterfield Plant…by 80,000 pounds and would add a Total Nitrogen waste load allocation of 80,000 pounds to the Tranlin, Inc./Vastly Facility…. These amendments…are needed to reflect the transfer of nitrogen allocation from the Virginia Electric and Power Company (Dominion) to Tranlin, Inc. (Vastly) as identified in a Memorandum of Understanding between the two parties dated the 5th day of April 2017.

Virginia Solid Waste Report for 2016 Data Issued on June 20, 2017, by Va. DEQ

On June 20, 2017, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) released its 20th annual report on solid waste management in Virginia, covering municipal solid waste, construction and demolition debris, vegetative and yard waste, and other types of waste collected in 2016 at 202 permitted facilities.

The total amount of solid waste received at Virginia facilities during 2016 was about 22.0 million tons, an increase of about 1.3 million tons over 2014’s total.  About 6.1 million tons originated from outside of Virginia, an increase of about 700,000 tons over 2015’s total, due to an increase in out-of-state industrial waste.  Municipal solid waste comprised about 12.8 million tons (about 58 percent) of Virginia’s total waste in 2016; construction/demolition debris comprised about 4.3 million tons; industrial waste about 2.0 million tons; and the rest was from several other kinds of waste (regulated medical waste, vegetative waste, incineration ash, sludge, tires, white goods, friable asbestos, petroleum contaminated soil, and other).

Out-of-state waste came primarily from Maryland (about 39.8% of all out-of-state waste), Washington, D.C. (about 19.8%), North Carolina (about 19.7%), New York (about 16.4%), and New Jersey (about 3.1%).

Of the 2016 total waste, about 13.3 million tons were disposed of in landfills; about 2.0 million tons were incinerated on-site; about 4.5 million tons were sent off-site for treatment, storage, or disposal; about 1.2 million tons were recycled on-site; about 848,000 tons were sent off-site to be recycled; and the rest was managed by mulching, composting, on-site storage, or other means.

The report for 2016 data (32 pages) and reports for previous years are available at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/LandProtectionRevitalization/ReportsPublications/AnnualSolidWasteReports.aspx.  See also Virginia issues solid waste report for 2016, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality news release, 6/20/17.

For News Grouper posts on previous years’ solid-waste reports, please see this link: https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=Solid+Waste+Report.

Virginia Precipitation and Stream Flow for the 7-day Period Ending June 19, 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 June 119, 2017 (information available as of June 13).
  2. Flooding overview maps for Virginia and nationwide, as of June 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 Science Center’s Web site, http://va.water.usgs.gov/.

GAGE Potts Creek near Covington on Rt 18 Alleghany County Jun3 2017

June 2017 Gaging Station of the Month:  Potts Creek near Covington in Alleghany County, Va., June 3, 2017.  U.S. Geological Survey information from this gage is online at https://waterdata.usgs.gov/va/nwis/uv?site_no=02014000.


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 June 19, 2017.  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).
precip Jun19

precipperc Jun19

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 8 a.m. EDT on 6/20/17.  Please note that UTC, the time shown on the maps at the site, is four hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time and five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.
PRecip US Jun20

Stream Flow

Seven-day-average Virginia stream flows at gaging stations as of June 12, 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 Jun19

stream codes

Flooding Overview

As of about 2:30 p.m. EDT on June 20, 2017, about eight stream-gaging stations in or near Virginia were either experiencing flooding or near flood stage, according to the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service’s (AHPS) map of 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 VA Jun20Flooding US Jun20

National Hurricane Center’s Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook for 2 Days and 5 Days, as of June 20, 2017; Updated 6/21/17 with Information on Tropical Storm Cindy

As of June 20, 2017, Tropical Storm Bret was in the Caribbean Sea just north of Venezuela and was predicted to move westward toward Central America through Thursday, June 22.  Bret is the second named storm for 2017 in the Atlantic basin (Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico).  At the same time, Potential Tropical Cyclone Three (an area of tropical disturbance that is the potential precursor of a tropical cyclone) was present in the Gulf of Mexico and was expected to develop into a tropical storm within 48 hours and make landfall in Louisiana or Texas by June 22.  [Update 6/21/17 –   Shown below are the National Hurricane Center’s (NHC) two-day and five-day graphical tropical weather outlooks, as of the morning of June 20, accessed at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/.

Update 6/21/17 – On June 20, Potential Tropical Cyclone Three intensified into Tropical Storm Cindy.  As of the morning of June 21, Cindy was expected to make landfall along the Louisiana or Texas coast late on June 21 or early on June 22, bringing heavy rainfall and flash flooding.  A satelitte photo of Cindy as of about 8 a.m. EDT on June 21 is shown below.

Two-day outlook June 20Five day outlook June 20

Cindy June 21

Tropical Storm Cindy in the Gulf of Mexico approaching landfall in Louisiana/Texas, 6/21/17, 8:15 a.m. EDT.  Photo taken from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Web site at http://www.goes.noaa.gov/browsh.html, on 6/21/17, 9:15 a.m. EDT.

On Virginia Water Radio for 6-19-17: Batteaux Illustrate Historical Travel on the James River

Virginia Water Radio’s episode for the week of June 19, 2017, is “The James River Batteau Festival.”  The 5 min./15 sec. episode, available online at http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/2017/06/episode-373-6-19-17-james-river-batteau.html, focuses on an annual, history-recreating voyage down the James River on pole-guided, flat-bottomed boats, occurring in 2017 from June 17-24.  The episode features an excerpt of “James River Blues,” by Old Crow Medicine Show (http://www.crowmedicine.com/).

Jun17 Columbia two

Participants on the 2017 James River Batteau Festival may see a view like this of the bridge over the James at Columbia, on the Cumberland/Fluvanna county line, shown here on June 17, 2007.

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!

James River Transmission Line Proposal by Dominion Energy – Latest Update June 14, 2017

Update 6/14/17 –
On June 12, 2017, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a provisional proffered permit for Dominion Energy’s (formerly Dominion Resources/Dominion Virginia Power) proposal to build a $270-million, 17-tower, 500-kilovolt transmission line from its Surry Nuclear Power Station in Surry County across the James River to a proposed switching station near Skiffes Creek in James City County.  The proposed project still requires permits from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and James City County.
Source: Dominion gets provisional permit for contentious James River transmission line near historic sites, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 6/13/17.
For information about the application for the Corps of Engineers permit, see http://www.nao.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/SkiffesCreekPowerLine.aspx.

Previous information posted 6/15/16: On June 13, 2016, Dominion Virginia Power released its latest plan—submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers—for mitigating environmental impacts of its proposed 500-kilovolt transmission line from its Surry Nuclear Power Station in Surry County across the James River to a proposed switching station near Skiffes Creek in James City County.  The plan released on June 13 provides more details on proposed mitigation activities than had been provided in a December 2015 version; in March 2016, the Corps notified Dominion areas needing more information.  The newly released proposal is Dominion’s response.  As in the previous version, the proposed mitigation activities would cost around $85 million.
Source: Mitigation plan largely unchanged, number remains at $85 million, Virginia Gazette, 6/14/16.

Original post in November 2015: November 13, 2015, was the last day for public comments to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Dominion Virginia Power’s application to build a 500-kilovolt transmission line from its Surry Nuclear Power Station in Surry County across the James River to a proposed switching station near Skiffes Creek in James City County.  Dominion asserts that the transmission line is necessary for electricity reliability on Virginia’s Peninsula (the location of the Hampton Roads area with about 500,000 residents, several military installations, and many other power users).  The project faces opposition from groups and citizens who object to the impact they believe the line would have on views from Jamestown Island and other historic or scenic locations.  The transmission line was approved by the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) in November 2013, but that approval was challenged by James City County, Save the James Alliance Trust, and the James River Association, who asserted that local zoning approval was necessary for the project; and by BASF Corporation, who objected to the line’s crossing an environmental-remediation area on James River property owned by the corporation.  In April 2015, the Virginia Supreme Court said the SCC did not err in approving the transmission line route, but the court also said local government approval is, in fact, necessary for the switching station in James City County.  As of November 11, 2015, Dominion still needed a permit from the Corps of Engineers, and the James City County Board of Supervisors had yet to rule on Dominion’s application for a special use permit to build the Skiffes Creek switching station.  A PDF of the April 2015 Virginia Supreme Court ruling on the transmission line is available online at http://www.courts.state.va.us/opinions/opnscvwp/1140462.pdf.
Sources: Power line across the James River: An intrusive eyesore or electrical necessity?Virginian-Pilot, 9/27/15.
Charles City County residents oppose Dominion’s Chickahominy alternative route, Virginia Gazette, 11/4/15.
Near Jamestown, Dominion power line battles history, “Marketplace” (American Public Media), 8/18/15.
Transmission line project over James River voted down [by James City County Planning Commission on 8/5/15], WVEC-TV Norfolk, 8/6/15.
New Battle of Jamestown pits power lines against preservationists, Washington Post, 7/14/15.
Groups fight to save James River views from overhead power lines, Bay Journal, 7/8/15.
Opponents cheer Va. ruling on James River transmission line, Associated Press, as published by WAVY-TV Portsmouth, Va., 4/16/15.
Va. approves controversial Dominion power line over historic James River, Washington Post, 11/27/13.

Other news articles:
DomPower: Skiffes Creek necessary to avoid rolling blackouts or worse, Williamsburg Yorktown Daily, 1/17/17.
Army Corps to host sit-down between Dominion and opposition groups on Surry-Skiffes Creek project, Virginia Gazette, 1/19/16.
Clash of Competing Values, Bacon’s Rebellion, 1/20/16 [Detailed article on the process of, and concerns about, the routes of Dominion Virginia Power’s proposed Surry-Skiffes Creek transmission line and of the company’s proposed Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline.]

skiffes map

Project location map for proposed power-transmission line from Surry Nuclear Power Station in Surry County, Va., to a proposed switching station near Skiffes Creek in James City County, Va., accessed at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Web site, http://www.nao.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/SkiffesCreekPowerLine.aspx, 11/11/5.