Bacteria-monitoring Guide Published in May 2016 by Center for Watershed Protection

In May 2016, the non-profit Center for Watershed Protection (headquartered in Ellicott City, Md., and with an office in Charlottesville, Va.; online at announced publication of Safe Waters, Healthy Waters: A Guide for Citizen Groups on Bacteria Monitoring in Local Waterways.  The guide is available (in PDF format) online at

The 54-page guide is designed to help citizen water-monitoring groups identify water areas with high bacteria, identify potential sources, and communicate findings to the public.  According to the Center’s May 23, 2016, news release, the guide “provides step-by-step instructions to create a customized bacteria monitoring program, methods to investigate potential pollutant sources, and resources for putting collected data to use.  It focuses especially on human sewage sources and monitoring techniques that are simple, reliable and low-cost.”

For more information, contact Laurel Williamson at the Center’s Charlottesville office, email:; or phone the Center’s main office at (410) 461-8323.

Virginia Precipitation and Stream Flow for the 7-day Period Ending May 24, 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 May 24, 2016 (information available as of May 25).  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:  For monthly reviews of precipitation, stream flow, and drought, please see the posts available at this link:  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,

Johns Creek gage

May 2016 Gaging Station of the Month:


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 May 24, 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  As of that date, these data were provisional (needing to be verified for accuracy and subject to possible revision).

precip May24

precip perc

Another source of precipitation data is the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service,, 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 May 24, 2016, are indicated in the map below, from the U.S. Geological Survey WaterWatch for Virginia, accessed online at  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 May 24KEEP on deskto - Stream flow code graph

Healthy and Safe Swimming Week is May 23-29, 2016 – Information Sources from the Virginia Water Monitoring Council

Following are several sources information regarding Healthy and Safe Swimming Week, May 23-29, 2016.  This list was compiled by the Virginia Water Monitoring Council (VWMC), with financial support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through the Virginia Department of Health .  More information on the VWMC is available online at; or contact Jane Walker at

Please feel free to re-distribute this information.  If you forward the information or post it online, please let the VWMC know (at the e-mail address above) so that they can report it to the funder.

1 – Healthy and Safe Swimming Week  Materials

The week focuses on simple steps swimmers and pool operators can take to help ensure a healthy and safe swimming experience.  It focuses on preventing drowning, pool chemical injuries, and outbreaks of illnesses.  Easy and effective healthy swimming steps all swimmers can take can be found at

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web site has promotional materials (brochures, buttons & banners, fact sheets, infographics, podcasts, posters, mobile apps, social media library, stories, and videos) to educate the public.  To learn more, see:

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is promoting Healthy and Safe Swimming Week at  A statewide press release was issued and is available at:

2 – Beach Monitoring in Virginia

Bacteria levels in beach water are monitored at 46 public beaches on the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean of Virginia during the swimming season (May-September).

Water samples are collected weekly by Local Health Departments and analyzed by local laboratories for enterococci bacteria. If bacteria levels exceed Virginia’s Water Quality Standard of 104 colony forming units (cfu)/100 mL of water, a swimming advisory is issued. Enterococci bacteria serve as an indicator for fecal contamination in salt and brackish waters. These organisms are not harmful themselves, but indicate that other potentially harmful organisms may be present. High levels of enterococci bacteria indicate an increased health risk to recreational water users.

Beach monitoring results are available at  Follow VDH’s Beach Monitoring Program on Twitter (@VDHBeach) to receive weekly results and swimming advisories:

For links to information about current swimming advisories and monitored beaches, beach advisory and monitoring data, links to local beaches, local health department contacts, and special projects, visit:

3 – “Beaches and Bacteria” Article

This article was updated in January 2014 and is available at  It was first published by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Virginia Water Central (August 2004).  The article describes:

  • The difference between a beach advisory and a beach closure
  • The Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act
  • The types of indicator organisms monitored at Virginia’s beaches
  • Virginia’s bacteria standards
  • Microbial Source Tracking

4 – “Safely Enjoying Virginia’s Natural Waters” Brochure

This brochure, published by the Virginia Department of Health, covers topics such as:

  • What organisms are in natural waters and where do they come from?
  • What are the health risks and how are they determined?
  • Why avoid natural water after a heavy rain?
  • What you can do to protect yourself.

Go to  to download a PDF document of the brochure

5 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Healthy Swimming web page: – Provides information on the following topics and more:

  • Swimmers – Health Benefits; How to Swim Healthy; Recreational Water Illnesses;  Drowning, Injury, & Sun Protection; State-based Healthy Swimming Information
  • Residential Pool or Hot Tub Owners – Disinfection & Testing; Cleaning and Remediation; Animals & Pools
  • Public Health Professionals – Outbreak Response Toolkits; Pool & Hot Tub/Spa Inspections
  • Aquatics Professionals – Design & Construction; Operation & Maintenance; Policies & Management; Regulation & Inspection
  • Medical Professionals – 5 Prevention Messages; Training & Patient Education; Infection Control

Virginia Water-related Government Meetings for May 24-June 6, 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.


5/24/16, 9:30 a.m.: Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers, and Landscape Architects/Regulatory Review Committee.  At the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, 9960 Mayland Drive in Richmond.

5/24/16, 9:30 a.m.: Marine Resources Commission.  At 2600 Washington Avenue in Newport News.

5/24/16, 9:30 a.m.: Soil and Water Conservation Board.  At Old Dominion Electric Cooperative, 4201 Dominion Boulevard in Glen Allen (Henrico County).

5/26/16, 9 a.m.: Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  At the State Capitol, Senate Room 3, 1000 Bank Street in Richmond.

5/26/16, 10 a.m.: Outdoors Foundation Board of Trustees Energy and Infrastructure Committee.  At 1:30 on the same date, the Board’s Finance, Audit and Compliance Committee meets.  Both meetings at 39 Garrett Street in Warrenton (Fauquier County).

6/1/16, 10 a.m.: Sewage Handling and Disposal Advisory Committee.  At the James Madison Building, 5th Floor Main Conference Room, 109 Governor Street in Richmond.

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For meetings of legislative committees and commissions, see  Links to information about General Assembly commissions, councils, and special interim committees coordinated by the Division of Legislative Services are available online at

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

5/26/16, 1:30 p.m., on the TMDL study of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) impairment in the New River (including parts of Claytor Lake) and tributaries Reed Creek, Stony Creek and Walker Creek, located in the Ohio River basin in Giles, Montgomery, Pulaski, and Wythe counties and the City of Radford.  At the Radford Public Library, 30 West Main Street in Radford.

*          *          *

(topics listed alphabetically)

Biosolids (Treated Sewage Sludge) Land-application Permit Requests
5/26/16, 6 p.m.: On the permit application by Nutri-Blend, Inc., to land-apply biosolids to about 2932 acres in Nottoway County.  At the public library, 414 Tyler Street in Crewe.

6/6/16, 2 p.m.: Virginia Port Authority Growth and Operations Committee.  At 3:45 p.m. on the same day: Finance and Audit Committee.  At 5 p.m. the same day: Executive Committee.  All at 600 World Trade Center, 101 West Main Street in Norfolk.

On Virginia Water Radio for 5-23-16: Name That Atlantic Tropical Storm – 2016 Edition

Virginia Water Radio’s latest episode, for the week of May 23, 2016, is “After Hurricane Alex’s Unusual January Appearance, Atlantic Tropical Storm Season 2016 Officially Begins June 1.”  The 3 min./44 sec. episode, available online at, is Water Radio’s annual preview of the upcoming Atlantic tropical storm season, featuring the names planned for this year’s storms.

Hurricane Alex

The first 2016 Atlantic tropical storm, a very early arrival: Hurricane Alex over the Azore Islands (in the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Portugal) at 9:20 a.m. EST on January 15, 2016.  Photo taken from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Web site,, 5/20/16.   Photo credits: Jeff Schmaltz, NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

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

Microplastics in the Chesapeake Bay Examined in April 2016 Report from Bay Program’s Scientific and Technial Advisory Committee

On April 18, 2016, the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee published “Technical Review of Microbeads/Microplastics in the Chesapeake Bay.”  The 27-page report (STAC Publication 16-002) is available online at

Following is an excerpt from the report’s Executive Summary:
“Recent estimates indicate that there are trillions of pieces of plastic floating at or near the surface of the world’s oceans, and that the majority of this pollution is microplastic (less than 5 mm in size).  Like larger items of plastic debris, microplastic has been reported in nearly all aquatic habitats, from the surface to the depths of every major open ocean and in freshwater lakes and rivers.  The small size of microplastic makes it bioavailable to a wide range of species of aquatic animals, across nearly all sizes and trophic levels.  Recently, one source of microplastic debris has received much attention in the media and from policy makers: synthetic plastic microbeads.  [See, for example, House Bill 1697 in the 2015 Virginia General Assembly, “Synthetic plastic microbeads; prohibition against manufacture or sale of certain products, penalty.”]

“This review panel was originally tasked to write a report describing the scientific evidence regarding plastic microbeads as it relates to microplastic contamination in general and in the Chesapeake Bay in particular.  In the interim, federal legislation to ban microbeads, the Microbead-Free Waters Act, was signed by President Obama on December 28, 2015.  [Information on that legislation is available online at]  While laudable in its intent, the Act leaves much to be desired for microplastic mitigation. The Microbead-Free Waters Act (i) does not mitigate all sources of microbeads to aquatic habitats (i.e., only applies to rinse-off personal care products), and (ii) is restrictive when it comes to potential innovative technological solutions (i.e., may prevent use of any new types of plastic microbeads in some applications, even if they are environmentally benign).  Accordingly, future legislation and regulation, whether concerning microbeads or other sources of microplastics, should more carefully address these issues.

“Due to the original tasking, this report emphasizes microbeads.  However, because microbeads are not the only source of microplastic contaminating local habitats, this report’s scope has been broadened to include information regarding microplastic in general.”

For a news media account of the report and the issue of microplastics, please see Microplastic pollution in the Bay poses risks, report finds, Bay Journal, 4/18/16.

Water in the 2016 Virginia General Assembly: Final Inventory of Water-related Legislation

The Virginia Water Resources Research Center annually compiles an inventory of water-related legislation in the Virginia General Assembly.   We update the inventory during the session, then publish a final version after the end of the regular session and reconvened “veto” session.  The final inventory for 2016 is now available at  At that page you can also find inventories from previous General Assembly sessions (back to 1998), information on how to follow legislation and how to contact your local General Assembly members, and links to other natural-resource legislation-tracking services.

For a list of some 2016 Virginia General Assembly measures that were reported in news media, please see the Water Central News Grouper post, Water in the 2016 Virginia General Assembly – A Sampler of Notable Bills, as of the End of the Regular Session.