Virginia and Chesapeake Bay Area Water News Headlines Sampler for August 24-August 30, 2013: Continued Dolphin Deaths, Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid and Blackside Dace, CAFO Regulation Lawsuit, Zinc from Mine Waste along New River Tributary, Wildwood State Park Plan, Magmatic Moon Water, 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 24-30, 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 9/1/13, all headlines listed below have working hyperlinks to take you to the full article.

Aquatic Life
Dead dolphin found on KI [Kent Island, Md.], The Queen Anne’s County (Md.) News, 8/30/13; and Virginia dolphin deaths spike in August mass die-offs continue, Daily Press, 8/28/13.  August was the peak month for the higher-than-normal levels of dead dolphins found in Virginia and other Atlantic coast states during summer 2013.  A virus is suspected as the cause of the deaths.  This item was previously in the Grouper’s headline posts on 8/11/13 and 8/23/13. Here are earlier articles:  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; Dolphin die-off stretches Virginia Aquarium resources, WVEC 13 (Norfolk Va.) TV, 8/19/13; 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.

Hydraulic Fracturing Fluids Likely Harmed Threatened Kentucky Fish Species, U.S. Geological Survey News Release, 8/28/13.  Recently published research from scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service indicates that federally threatened Blackside Dace were damaged by water-quality impacts from a spill of hydraulic fracturing fluids in Kentucky in 2007.  The only known populations of this fish species are in the Cumberland River basin in Kentucky and Tennessee and in the Powell River basin in Virginia.  The research was published in a Southeastern Naturalist issue (Volume 12, Special Issue 4) on Blackside Dace, available online at

Laws and Regulations
Environmental, animal rights groups sue EPA for dropping plan to gather livestock farm data, Associated Press, as published in Washington Post, 8/28/13.  On August 28, 2013, the Center for Food Safety, Environmental Integrity Project, Food and Water Watch, the Humane Society, and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement sued the U.S. EPA, alleging that the agency acted unlawfully when in July 2012 it withdrew a proposed regulation requiring information from large confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) on animal numbers and other details related to regulation of CAFOs under the federal Clean Water Act.

Mining Waste Management
Indian Creek Discharge, National Committee for the New River, 8/29/13.  Heavy rains in early 2013 led to increased levels of zinc in surface water runoff from a former mine site (closed in 1981) on Indian Creek, a New River tributary near Austinville in Wythe County.  Since 1994, the site has been under a state enforcement order to remove mining tailings, and significant progress has been made over the years to remove the materials.  But the 2013 rainfall created a new drainage channel through which runoff from the tailings was flowing without any treatment.  The Virginia departments of Environmental Quality and of Mines, Minerals and Energy met with the property owners in late August to establish a plan for remediating the drainage issues that led to the increased zinc discharges this year.  Later news account, added 9/20/13: Wythe company cleaning up environmental mess, WDBJ-TV Roanoke, 9/16/13.

State Parks
Widewater State Park Presented as Top Priority along Potomac River, Potomac Local, 8/29/13.  On August 27, 2013, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) presented the proposed master plan for Widewater State Park, a new park to be located on 1,100 acres between the Potomac River and Aquia Creek in Stafford County.  DCR’s three-phase plan would cost an estimated $43 million.  The plan is to be presented to the Stafford County Board of Supervisors on September 11.

Updated model to aid in hurricane evacuation plans, The Washington Post, 8/25/13.  During the Atlantic tropical storm season (June 1-November 30) in 2013, the National Hurricane Center is developing and using better computer models, run on faster computers, to improved its ability to predict storm surge, one of the most dangerous coastal aspects of tropical storms.  The Center also is changing its forecasts from feet above normal high-tide level to depth above ground level.

Outside of Virginia But in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed – Dams
$3.57 Million Grant Targets Patapsco River’s Bloede Dam, (Ellicott City Md.), 8/26/13.  A grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency’s (NOAA) Restoration Center to the non-profit organization American Rivers will help fund removal of Bloede Dam on the Patapsco River in Patapsco Valley State Park, west of Baltimore, Maryland.  Information from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources on the Bloede Dam project is available online at

Outside of Virginia But in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed
Md. Withdraws Emergency Status Of Fertilizer Rules, Associated Press, 8/26/13; and New MD index to more closely look at phosphorus’ route to water, Bay Journal, 8/27/13.  Maryland is developing a new method for determining when soils have excessive phosphorus levels and therefore when manure applications should be reduced or curtailed.  The Bay Journal article gives detail on the issue of phosphorus and water quality generally).

Out of This World
Scientists Detect Magmatic Water on Moon’s Surface, U.S. Geological Survey News Release, 8/26/13.  In the August 25, 2013, edition of the scientific journal Nature Geoscience, scientists reported that NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper had detected magmatic water, that is, water originating deep within the interior of the moon.

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