Virginia and Chesapeake Bay Area Water News Headlines Sampler for August 31–September 19, 2013: Continued Dolphin Deaths, Hydraulic Fracturing Demand for Sand, LNG Terminal, Blue Crabs, Waste-to-Energy, Statewide Water-supply Planning, Dust Devil, 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 31—September 19, 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 9/20/13, all headlines listed below have working hyperlinks to take you to the full article.

Aquatic Life and Habitats

Dolphin deaths follow Va. aquarium’s prediction, WAVY (Chesapeake Va.), 9/17/13.  Here is an update on the high level of dolphin deaths, believed due to a virus, off the Atlantic Coast in summer 2013.  This story was included in previous Water Central News Grouper headline posts August 11, August 23, and September 1.

VA, Riverkeeper differ on how to handle algae in Shendandoah, Bay Journal, 9/9/13.  The Shenandoah Riverkeeper has been advocating for Virginia to list the Shenandoah River as impaired on the basis of annual algal blooms, but current Virginia standards do not allow a listing for that cause.  Nutrient criteria that might allow such a listing are being developed by the Commonwealth.

Energy
Coalition opposes Bay natural gas export facility, Capital News Service, 9/17/13; Gas plant foes plan protest, The Bay Net, 9/16/13.  On September 11, 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy conditionally approved the application by Dominion Resources, based in Richmond, Virginia, to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to non-Free Trade Agreement countries.  Dominion is proposing to convert an LNG-import facility in Calvert County, Md., to an export facility.  For a previous Water Central News Grouper item, please click the following: Dominion Resources Announces in Early April 2013 Its Permit Application for Liquefied Natural Gas Export-facility Project at Terminal in Chesapeake Bay Off Maryland (posted 4/9/13).  

Dominion Virginia Power wins first Virginia offshore wind energy auction, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 9/5/13; Dominion wins bid for wind farm, environmentalists wary, Daily Press, 9/5/13; Dominion Virginia wins right to lease ocean tract for wind farm, Washington Post, 9/4/13; and Dominion wins auction for wind farm off Va. Beach, Virginian-Pilot, 9/5/13.  On September 4, Dominion Virginia Power made the winning $1.6-millon bid to lease over 112,000 acres off the coast of Virginia to develop what would be Virginia’s first offshore wind-energy facility.  Construction of any facilities is at least several years in the future, and the scale of any project is yet to be determined.

Price of rebuilding beaches is soaring because so much sand is used for fracking, Daily Press, 9/2/13.  The U.S. Geological Survey has reported that the price of sand used in beach replenishment increased 14 percent in from 2012 to 2013 and 82 percent since 2005, due to demand for sand in hydraulic-fracturing operations to recover natural gas.

Fisheries
Crab harvest lowest in years, Southern Maryland Newspapers Online, 9/18/13.  As of mid-September, the Blue Crab harvest in 2013 had been one of the lowest in several years all along the Atlantic Coast.  For a later, detailed look at the low Blue Crab harvest, particularly in relation to recent high-population estimates, see The mystery of the missing blue crabs, Bay Journal, Nov. 2013.

Setting sights on the Potomacs recovery, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 9/9/13.  Marylander Martin Gary took over in July 2013 as the executive director of the Potomac River Fisheries Commission.  A 1958 compact between Virginia and Maryland created the Commission to allow the states to collaborate in regulating commercial and recreational fish and fisheries in the river.

Waste Management/Waste-to-energy

Waste-to-energy plan in Stafford County gets reboot, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 9/18/13; Public can weigh in on plans for reducing landfill waste, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 10/2/13; and Hampton Roads Sanitation District goes greener, Virginian-Pilot, 9/14/13.  On September 18, 2013, the Rappahannock Regional Waste Management Board voted to re-open a bid process for proposals to generate energy from solid waste at a Stafford County landfill; the Board had previously approved a contract with a bidder in April 2013, but the Stafford County Board of Supervisors refused to approve a land-leasing contract, after concerns were raised about the bidding process and the proposed operation.  [Update 10/10/13 – The Regional Waste Management Board began a process in September to gather public input on the proposal.]  Meanwhile, on September 13, 2013, Hampton Roads Sanitation District officials had a public showing of a new, $9.1-million, waste-to-energy facility in Virginia Beach, reported to be the largest operation in Virginia that captures methane generated from solid waste.

Water Supply – Statewide Planning Process
Report: Area water supply sufficient for now, Northern Virginia Daily, 9/11/13.  On September 11, 2013, a 90-day public comment period ended for the Northern Shenandoah Valley Water Supply Plan, and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has notified the Northern Shenandoah Regional Commission that the plan meets compliance with state requirements.  This region’s plan is part of a statewide planning process that the Virginia General Assembly required in response to drought in the early 2000s.  Plans from other regions or localities are undergoing the same public-comment process during September and October 2013; information on the review status of different plans and on public-comment periods is available online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/WaterSupplyPlanning.aspx.  The Northern Shenandoah Valley plan indicates that area water supplies should be able to supply expected growth but that some jurisdictions are approaching the limits of their supply and might face a deficit over the 50-year planning period assessed in the plans.

Weather
Freak ‘twister’ near Bassett lifted tents and nearly some people, Roanoke Times, 9/18/13.  On September 14, 2013, an uncommon weather phenomenon called a “dust devil” appeared at the Bassett Heritage Festival in Henry County.

Outside of Virginia But in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed
City approves contract for sewer plant, The (Martinsburg W.Va.) Journal, 9/5/13.  In one of many examples of localities in the Chesapeake Bay watershed responding to the requirements of the Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) pollution-reduction plan published in December 2010 by the U.S. EPA, the city of Martinsburg, West Virginia on September 4, 2013, awarded a construction contract for a new, $38.8-million wastewater treatment plant that will reduce nitrogen and phosphorus levels in the city’s wastewater discharge. 

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