Virginia and Chesapeake Bay Area Water News Headlines Sampler from July 13-19, 2013

Following are headlines and notes for a selection of Virginia water-news stories from the period July 13-19, 2013.  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 19 all headlines listed below have working hyperlinks to take you to the full article.

Aquatic Life
Jellyfish invade coastal waters, (Salisbury Md.) Daily Times, 7/16/13.  It’s not news—it happens every year—but jellyfish are making their appearance in Atlantic coastal waters.  This article gives an overview of these perennial problems for beach-goers.

Energy
Dominion’s Altavista biomass plant commercially operational, Lynchburg News & Advance, 7/16/13.  The Altavista Power Station (in Campbell County) operated by Dominion Virginia Power returned to commercial operation on July 12, 2013, after being closed in 2010 to allow conversion from using coal as its fuel source to using waste-wood materials, referred to as “biomass.”  Dominion has said that two other plants, in Southampton County and the City of Hopewell, will be using biomass by the end of 2013.

Fisheries
Virginia has first oyster disease outbreak, Virginian-Pilot, 7/16/13.  On July 12, 2013, the Virginia Department of Health announced that it was closing shellfishing waters around Fisherman’s Island—in Northampton County, off the southern end of Virginia’s Eastern Shore—for up to year after three people became ill from the Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacterium after eating oysters harvested in private waters in the area in May 2013.

Stormwater
Virginia alters course on how it regulates runoff, Virginian-Pilot, 7/17/13.  July 1, 2013, was the effective date for Virginia’s programs for stormwater managment and regulation—including administration of the Commonwealth’s Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act—moved from the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).  Programs related to agricultural stormwater runoff remain with DCR.

Waste Management
Campaign aims to clean up, Suffolk (Va.) News-Herald, 7/16/13.  In 2013, the Keep Virginia Beautiful program celebrates its 60th anniversary, and the program is undertaking a campaign this year to encourage more local litter clean-up efforts.  People interested in participating can sign up online at www.kvb60.org/register.

Water Supply – Groundwater
Water panel hears intriguing idea for conserving groundwater, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 7/17/13.  At the Virginia State Water Commission’s meeting on July 16, 2013, Middlesex County Board of Supervisors member Peter Mansfield suggested that the RockTenn Company’s paper mill in West Point (King William County) might be able to use recycled water from a regional wastewater-treatment system plant, rather than using groundwater as the plant currently does (23 million gallons per day).  Groundwater levels in eastern Virginia’s Coastal Plain have been declining in some areas, and the groundwater situation was one of the main topics of the Commission’s meeting.  The Commission is made up primarily of members of the Virginia General Assembly.

Water Supply – Surface Water
Bedford a step closer to water self-reliance, Lynchburg News & Advance, 7/17/13.  In mid-July 2013, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued a draft permit (subject to a public-comment period) for Bedford County to increase its water withdrawal from Smith Mountain Lake from 3 million gallons per day (MGD) to 12 MGD, an increase that could eventually allow the county to serve the Forest area and to reduce its water purchases from the City of Lynchburg.  Several legal and regulatory steps would still be necessary for the county to get the increased withdrawal.  [ADDED 9/1/13:] The Bedford Regional Water Authority held an open house for citizens to view the proposal on August 28, 2013.  Bedford water authority plan would triple takings from Smith Mountain Lake, Roanoke Times, 8/29/13.

Weather
Cool wet spring affecting crops rivers in Gloucester, Daily Press, 7/18/13; and Crews remove debris from Smith Mountain Lake, Lynchburg News & Advance, 7/19/13.  Here are two “snapshots” of impacts of Virginia’s wet year in 2013.  First, in Gloucester County, the above-normal rainfall so far this year delayed or repeated crop-plantings; led to high flows on streams and rivers; and elevated amounts of bacteria, sediments, and nutrients in rivers resulting from the high flows.  Meanwhile in western Virginia, Smith Mountain Lake (in Bedford, Franklin, and Pittsylvania counties) has receive above-normal amounts of tree branches, trash, and other debris.

Nationwide Laws and Regulations
Senate confirms Gina McCarthy as EPA administrator, Washington Post, 7/18/13.  On July 18, 2013, the U.S. Senate confirmed (59-40 vote) Gina McCarthy as the next U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator.  Previously Ms. McCarthy directed the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation.

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