Virginia and Chesapeake Bay Area Water News Headlines Sampler for August 17-August 23, 2013: Dolphin Deaths, Oyster Documentary, Fiber Optics Under the Bay, Susquehanna River Dam Relicensing, Sea-level Rise Easement in Maryland, Nitrate Monitoring on the Mississippi, and More

Following are headlines and notes for a selection of water-news stories in Virginia (or nearby, or related to Virginia)  from the period August 17—23, 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 8/23/13, all headlines listed below have working hyperlinks to take you to the full article.

Aquatic Life and Habitats
Federal cuts threaten team dealing with dolphin crisis, Virginian-Pilot, 8/23/13; Dolphin deaths haven’t hurt Virginia Beach tours, Virginian-Pilot, 8/19/13; and Dolphin die-off stretches Virginia Aquarium resources, WVEC 13 (Norfolk Va.) TV, 8/19/13.  In mid-August 2013, the Virginia Beach area continued to experience a high number of dolphin deaths, with 25 more dead animals washing ashore during the weekend of August 17-18, bringing the total this year to 130, compared to an average yearly total of about 60.  A virus is suspected as the cause of the dolphin deaths.  For earlier stories, please see Virus a suspect in dolphin strandings along bay, Virginian-Pilot, 8/2/13; and Dolphin deaths up in Washington region, Washington Post, 8/6/13.

Fisheries
Film explores the life of the Chesapeake Bay watermen and the revitalization of the oyster industry, The (West Point Va.) Tidewater Review, 8/17/13.  As of mid-August 2013, Dave Miller of Aylett, Va. (King William County) was making the final cuts to “Breathing Life into the Chesapeake: of Oysters, Boats, and Men,” an hour-long documentary film about  Chesapeake Bay oyster fishers and aquaculturists.

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath
Governor McDonnell Announces $405,000 in Community Development Block Grant Urgent Needs Funding; Town of Strasburg will receive grants to assist with rebuilding and improving storm drainage system after Hurricane Sandy, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 8/19/13.  This grant will help repair Hurricane Sandy damage in October 2012 to Ash Street in the Shenandoah County town of Strasburg.

Military
Hearing held on plans for fiber optic line under Chesapeake to Taylors Island, The Dorchester (Md.) Star, 8/22/13.  On August 19 and 20, 2013, public hearings were held in Maryland concerning the proposal by the U.S. Department of Defense to run a fibre-optic line under the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, part of a larger effort to have a dedicated fiber-optic line from the Patuxent River Naval Air Test Center in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, to the Wallops Island Flight Center in Accomack County, Virginia.

Outside of Virginia But in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed
First-of-Its-Kind Easement from Sea Level Rise Impacts, Southern Maryland News Net, 8/22/13.  On August 22, 2013, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and the state’s  Board of Public Works approved funding for to purchase the state’s first Coastal Resilience Easement, covering 221 acres in Dorchester County (along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historic Park) that is considered susceptible to flooding from observed and predicted sea-level rises.

[Chesapeake Bay Foundation] Files to Intervene in Conowingo Dam Relicensing, The Chestertown (Md.) Spy, 8/20/13. On August 20, 2013, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation 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.  Previously, in July 2013, a coalition of several riverkeeper groups in the lower Susquehanna River basin and the Chesapeake Bay watershed filed a motion to intervene in the relicensing process; these groups are seeking action by Excelon on sediment behind the dam, public-fishing access, and American Eel restoration.  Also, in late June 2013, the Clean Chesapeake Coalition, representing (at the time) 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.  As of August 2013, that coalition was urging Talbot County, Maryland, to join.  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.”  Previous sources: Groups push sediment eel fishing issues at Conowingo Dam, Lancaster (Pa.) Online, 7/22/13; 18 Riverkeepers Intervene In Conowingo Relicensing, The Chestertown (Md.) Spy, 7/23/13; and Clean Chesapeake Coalition urges Talbot County to join, The Cecil [Md.] Daily Whig, 8/16/13.

Power plant proposed for Brandywine, Washington Post, 8/19/13; and Brandywine site to host gas power plant, Southern Maryland Newspapers Online, 8/23/13.  On August 19, 2013, Dallas, Texas-based equity firm Panda Power Funds announced a proposal to build an 859-megawatt, natural-gas-fired power plant in Brandywine, Maryland (Prince George’s County).  The plant would use re-use treated municipal wastewater for cooling, discharged the cooling water back to a treatment plant.

Coveside Crabs: On the Bay with a True Blue Maryland Crabber, ABC 2 (Baltimore Md.) TV, 8/19/13.  Here’s a three-minute video look at the daily summer routine of a Maryland waterman harvesting Blue Crabs.

Susquehanna River center grows, Lancaster (Pa.) Online, 8/19/13.  As of mid-August 2013, construction was scheduled to begin soon and be completed by this coming winter on a $1.4-million project to create recreational and educational facilities related to the heritage of the Susquehanna River at the John and Kathryn Zimmerman Center for Heritage in York County, Pennsylvania.

Outside of Virginia But in the Gulf of Mexico Watershed
Real-time Monitoring Pays Off for Tracking Nitrate Pulse in Mississippi River Basin to the Gulf of Mexico, U.S. Geological Survey News Release, 8/21/13.  Along the Mississippi River, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is using optical sensors to measure and transmit data on levels of nitrate (a compound of nitrogen and oxygen) every 15 minutes to three hours.  The monitoring seeks to clarify how nitrate concentrations from tributaries contribute to a watershed “pulse” of nitrate in response to rainfall and seasons.  In Virginia, the New River, Big Sandy River, and Upper Tennessee River basins are in the Mississippi/Gulf of Mexico watershed.

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