Virginia and Chesapeake Bay Area Water News Headlines Sampler from July 8-12, 2013

Following are headlines and notes for a selection of Virginia water-news stories primarily from the period July 8-12, 2013, with two items from June.  The headlines are grouped by topics and—within those groups—from newest to oldest.  Explanatory notes have been added after the publication and date.  Unless otherwise noted, all places mentioned are in Virginia.  As of July 12, 2013, all headlines listed below have working hyperlinks to take you to the full article.

Aquatic Life and Habitats
Large crowd gathers for VB turtle release, WAVY (Chesapeake Va.) TV, 7/11/13.  On July 11, 2013, two Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas) that had become stranded in cold waters in December 2012 were released by Virginia Aquarium staff at First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach.  The turtles have been implanted with sonic tags so that their movements can be monitored in order to give information about Green Sea Turtle distribution; the U.S. Navy’s Fleet Forces Command funding the tagging effort.

Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL)
Groups say Virginia meeting most bay cleanup goals, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 7/8/13; Report: Some Chesapeake Bay cleanup goals unmet, Associated Press, as published in Virginian-Pilot, 7/8/13; Report: Virginia meeting most of its bay blueprint milestones, Daily Press, 7/8/13.  On July 8, 2013, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Choose Clean Water Coalition released a report on Bay states’ progress toward meeting its 2012-2013 goals under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) pollution-reduction plan.  The assessment looked at eight selected goals (out of 42 in the entire plan) in the areas of agricultural runoff, urban/suburban runoff, and wastewater treatment.  It concluded that Virginia is making adequate progress on in five areas (wastewater-treatment plant upgrades, keeping cattle from streams, urban stream restoration, streamside tree planting, and conventional stormwater ponds) but inadequate progress in other three areas (alternative stormwater-management practices such as pervious pavement, grass buffer strips along agricultural streams by farms, and conservation tillage on farms).  A CBF July 8, 2013, news release on the report is available online at http://cbf.org/milestones.  [Stories on the assessment in other states include the following: Maryland meeting or exceeding most goals for Chesapeake Bay pollution reduction, Carroll County (Md.) Times, 7/13/13.] Update 8/9/13: Here is a response from Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech, challenging the assessment’s emphasis and conclusions:  Sound measures show progress in the Chesapeake, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 7/28/13.

Officials hope to sign new Bay agreement in the fall, Bay Journal, July 2013. Chesapeake Bay state officials and partners in the U.S. EPA are anticipating that they may develop and sign a new Chesapeake Bay restoration agreement in fall 2013.  The first Bay Agreement was a one-page document in 1973, followed by more detailed agreements in 1983, 1987, and 2000, and then the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) plan established by the U.S. EPA in December 2010.  (Here are some other news accounts:  New cleanup agreement in the works for the bay, Daily Press, 7/17/13; Chesapeake Bay cleanup deal in the works, Associated Press, as published in Richmond Times-Dispatch, 7/15/13; and New multistate agreement in the works for Chesapeake Bay, The (Annapolis Md.) Capital Gazette, 7/14/13.)

Energy and Waste Management

Fredericksburg City Council approves landfill lease, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 7/9/13; and Stafford approves lease, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 6/6/13.   On July 9, 2013, the Fredericksburg City Council tentatively approved a lease for a $73-million facility to capture and use natural gas from landfill waste at the Rappahannock Regional Landfill.  The Council was scheduled to take a final vote on the lease on August 13, 2013.  On June 4, 2013, the Stafford County Board of Supervisors granted the county attorney authority to draw up a lease.  Update 8/11/13:  Fredericksburg’s City Council removed the project from its August 13 meeting agenda, postponing the item until August 27, after learning that Stafford County is reconsidering the project.  In July 2013, elected officials in the two jurisdictions  began receiving comments from citizens opposing the proposed projectCity council pulls proposed power plant from agenda, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 8/7/13; and Waste plan finds few fans, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 8/5/13.

Fisheries
York County teen grooms oysters for Chesapeake Bay restoration, Daily Press, 7/11/13.  York County, Virginia, teen David Lewis received one of 14 2013 International Youth Eco-Hero Awards, given by Action for Nature (an international non-profit organization headquartered in San Francisco; online at http://www.actionfornature.org/home.aspx) for his four years of raising baby oysters as part of the Chesapeake Bay Foundations’ oyster-gardening project.

Oysters’ future rests on shells of ancient bivalves, Virginian-Pilot, 7/10/13.  Feature article giving details on the problem of shortages of oyster shells in trying to restore oyster populations in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, and Virginia’s $2 million effort in 2013 to take fossil shells from the James River.  Another account is available in 10,000-year-old oyster shell dredged for new reefs, Daily Press, 7/12/13.

Ghost pots estimated to kill 1.25 million blue crabs in VA’s Bay waters; VIMS researchers experimenting with larger, biodegradable cull panels, Bay Journal, June 2013.  A four-year study (2008-2012) by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) found approximately 32,000 lost or abandoned crab pots, containing 25,000 Blue Crabs and 30 other aquatic species, in Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay waters.  From these results, the researchers estimated that over 1 million Blue Crabs per year may be getting caught in lost traps throughout the Bay.

Stormwater
Augusta Supervisors Debate Response to EPA Mandates, NBC 29 (Charlottesville Va.) WVIR-TV, 7/11/13; and Supervisors briefed on looming water protection mandates, Charlottesville Tomorrow, 7/8/13.  Two early-July 2013 snapshots of discussions by elected officials in Virginia localities in the Chesapeake Bay watershed about how to respond and pay for requirements of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) pollution-reduction plan.  [For some later details on the Augusta County situation, please see Board of Supervisors to Discuss Possible River Monitoring System, WHSV 3 (Harrisonburg Va.) TV, 7/23/13.]

EPA fines Hampton, Newport News on storm water, Daily Press, 7/9/13.  A recent series of audits by the U.S. EPA found that the cities of Hampton and Newport News were not adequately monitoring stormwater-management activities at construction sites, and the agency fined the cities $62,000 and $80,000, respectively.  The same series of audits also found violations in the counties of Chesterfield and Henrico and the City of Chesapeake, with resulting fines of over $330,000 collectively.

[Accomack] County objects to state stormwater proposals, Eastern Shore News, 6/27/13.  Virginia is considering revisions to its general permit regulation for stormwater generated from construction activities; the regulation is reviewed every five years.  Accomack County officials are objecting to a proposal to define a “measurable storm event” as one that produces one-quarter inch of rain in 24 hours, because the officials assert that over 3 inches of rain in 24 hours is necessary to produce stormwater runoff on the Eastern Shore’s flat terrain.  Virginia Regulatory Town Hall information about this regulation revision is available online at http://www.townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewAction.cfm?actionid=3679.

Outside of Virginia but in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Crossroads: Seaford Museum hails black men who guided Nanticoke River commerce, Delaware Online, 7/10/13.  An exhibit at the Seaford [Delaware] Historical Society’s museum tells the story of black men from Sussex County, Delaware, who were the first commercial boat pilots on the Nanticoke River.  (The Nanticoke enters the Chesapeake Bay in between Dorchester and Wicomico counties in Maryland.)

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