Virginia and Chesapeake Bay Area Water News Headlines Sampler for July 21-26, 2013

Following are headlines and notes for a selection of Virginia water-news stories from the period July 21-26, 2013.  The headlines are grouped by topics and—within those groups—from newest to oldest.  Explanatory notes have been added in brackets after the publication and date.  Unless otherwise noted, all places mentioned are in Virginia.  As of 7/26/13, all headlines listed below have working hyperlinks to take you to the full article.

Aquatic Life and Habitats

Conservation group buys 443 acres of forest, swamp, Virginian-Pilot, 7/26/13.  In late July 2013, the Nature Conservancy announced that on July 11 it closed a deal to pay $400,000 to purchase 443 acres of forest and wetlands along the Blackwater and Nottoway Rivers (Chowan River tributaries) in Southampton County, Va.  The area, known as Byrd’s Point, is to become part of the Commonwealth’s South Quay Sandhills Natural Preserve, which was created in 2013.

Fairly clean summer at Fairview Beach, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 7/24/13.  As of late July 2013, Fairview Beach on the Potomac River in King George County, Va., was seeing fewer bacteria-related beach closures than in previous summer swim seasons.

Wakefield Run Stream Restoration Project off With a Splash, The (Alexandria Va.) Connection, 7/24/13.  An approximately $350,000 stream-restoration project began July 24, 2013, on Fairfax County’s Wakefield Run, a tributary of Accotink Creek (in the Potomac River watershed).

Energy

A&G Coal Corp. found guilty of polluting at Wise County mine, Roanoke Times, 7/24/13; and Judge orders mining company to make changes following toxic discharge, Bristol Herald Courier, 7/24/13.  On July 22, 2013, a federal district court judge in Big Stone Gap, Va., ruled that A&G Coal Company has been violating the federal Clean Water Act by discharging selenium, a regulated pollutant under the CWA, without a permit.  The company is to apply to the Commonwealth for such a permit and to being daily monitoring for selenium, with the testing results to be assessed by District Court Judge James Jones to determine whether the company may face civil penalties.

Interior Announces Nation’s Second Offshore Wind Energy Lease Sale, U.S. Department of Interior News Release, 7/22/13; 112,800 acres off Virginia coast to be auctioned for wind energy, Daily Press, 7/23/13; Auction set for proposed wind farm off Va. Beach, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 7/23/13; and Auction date set for right to develop wind energy, Virginian-Pilot, 7/23/13.  On July 22, 2013, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced that about 113,000 acres some 23 nautical miles off the coast of Virginia Beach would be offered on September 4, 2013, in a lease sale for commercial, offshore wind-energy projects.  This will be the nation’s second wind-energy lease sale, following one scheduled for July 31, 2013, for areas off of Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Groundwater

In July 2013, the U.S. EPA was conducting field tests—expected to continue into August 2013, as part of investigation expected to take 18 months—to determine location and levels of five toxic chemicals that have been found in soil and groundwater at the former Avionics Specialties, Inc., site, near the Charlottesville, Va., airport.  Update 8/11/13: The Daily Progress continued to report on this story; here are some later articles: Cleanup of toxic site in Earlysville long overdue, regulators say, Charlottesville Daily Progress, 7/27/13; Remediation of chemicals at shuttered Albemarle aviation plant could take decades, Charlottesville Daily Progress, 8/5/13.

Waste Management

Recycle, reuse, tax? Norfolk targets plastic bags, Virginian-Pilot, 7/26/13.  The City of Norfolk, Va., is pursuing various methods to get citizens to reduce use of disposal plastic-bags, including supporting related measures in the Virginia General Assembly and creating a task force that, in September 2013, will begin giving out re-usable bags and to provide presentations to civic groups and schools.  The task force has estimated that up to 10 percent of disposable plastic bags become litter on roadways or in waterways.

Outside of Virginia But in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Maryland to increase RPS further reduce power usage cut emissions by 40%, Electric Power, Platts News, 7/25/13.  On July 25, 2013, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley announced that Maryland will increase its renewal-energy portfolio standard (RPS), increase efforts to reduce energy use, and required increased emission reductions from power plants, all as part of the state’s effort to reach its greenhouse-gas emissions target for 2020.

1st step for private water well testing OK’ed, The (Williamsport Pa.) Sun Gazette, 7/26/13.  In late July 2013, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, commissioners gave approval for a $250,000 grant application to the state to fund a county-wide program to monitor groundwater quality in private wells.

Groups push sediment eel fishing issues at Conowingo Dam, Lancaster (Pa.) Online, 7/22/13; and 18 Riverkeepers Intervene In Conowingo Relicensing, The Chestertown (Md.) Spy, 7/23/13.  In July 2013, a coalition of several riverkeeper groups in the lower Susquehanna River basin and the Chesapeake Bay watershed filed a motion to be allowed to intervene in the relicensing process by Excelon Corporation for the Conowingo Hydroelectric Dam on the Susquehanna River in Maryland; the groups are seeking action by Excelon on sediment behind the dam, public-fishing access, and American Eel restoration.  Previously (late June 2013), the Clean Chesapeake Coalition, representing the Maryland counties of Allegany, Caroline, Carroll, Cecil, Dorchester, Frederick, and Kent, filed a motion to intervene based also on concerns over sediment at the dam.  For more on this issue, please see the 2/27/13 Grouper post, “Relicensing Application Process for Conowingo Dam on Susquehanna River in Maryland Expected to Proceed to Environmental Assessment Phase in 2013.”

D.C. issues stormwater rule to comply with federal requirements, Washington DC Green Business, Examiner.com, 7/21/13; and Pr. George’s council approves storm-water runoff plan; Confirms two department heads, Washington Post, 7/24/13.  In mid-July 2013, the District of Columbia issued a new stormwater-management regulation and technical guidebook, including a stormwater credit-trading program and new requirements for retaining certain storm-depth water amounts on one’s property (up to a 1.2-inch rainfall for large projects).  Meanwhile, on July 23, 2013, Prince Georges County, Maryland, passed a 10-year, $1.2 billion stormwater-management plan.

Vulnerable Maryland weighs threat of sea-level rise, The Washington Post, 7/21/13.  On June 26, 2013, the Maryland Commission on Climate change released “Updating Maryland’s Projected Sea-level Rise,” a 22-page report that water levels along Maryland’s coastline are currently predicted to rise by up to two feet by the middle of this century and from two to six feet by the end of the century.  The report is available (as PDF) online at http://www.umces.edu/sites/default/files/pdfs/SeaLevelRiseProjections.pdf.

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