Virginia Water News Headlines Sampler for May 10–20, 2014: Natural Gas, Proposed Power Plants, Biofuels, Soil Remediation along James River, 2014 Va. General Assembly Stormwater Bill, Industrial Sludge, Maryland Oysters, National Water Projects Bill, and Antarctica Glacier Melt

Following are headlines and notes for a selection of water-news stories from the period May 10—20, 2014, that occurred in Virginia, occurred in nearby areas, or are otherwise relevant to Virginia.  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 5/21/14, all headlines listed below had working hyperlinks to take you to the full article, but those links may or may not be working at later dates.

Natural gas drilling draft edited; no action taken [in Washington County, Va.], Bristol Herald-Courier, 5/19/14 – As of mid-May 2014, the Washington County Planning Commission was considering the draft of an ordinance to impose local regulations on the areas allowed, environmental protections required, and financial assurances required for natural-gas drilling in the county.  Any ordinance recommended by the planning commission would then go to the county’s board of supervisors.

Dominion Hosts Groundbreaking Event for Brunswick County Power Station, Dominion Virginia Power news release, as published by PR Newswire, 5/16/14 – Construction actually started in September 2013 on Dominion Virginia Power’s $1.27-billion, 1358-megawatt-capacity, natural-gas fired power plant in Brunswick County, Va.  As of mid-May, the plant was about 17-percent complete, with opening expected in 2016. The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) approved Dominion’s application for the plant in August 2013.

Session addresses questions on proposed Smyth County plant, Bristol Herald-Courier, 5/15/14 – On May 15, 2014, Competitive Power Ventures (headquartered in Silver Spring, Md.; online at held a public forum in Atkins, Va. (Smyth County) on the company’s proposal to build a 700-megawatt (MW)-capacity, natural-gas-fired power plant.  The company filed its request for air-emission permits with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality in January 2014 and intends to seek additional needed federal, state, and local permits over the next year.

Sweet Briar plants native grasses to produce biofuels, Lynchburg News & Advance, 5/12/14 – Sweet Briar College, in Amherst, Va., is partnering with FDC Enterprises (headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa; online at to plant 500 acres of native grasses that will eventually be harvested to produce biofuels.  The work is a demonstration project funded by a Conservation Innovation Grant is from the U.S. Natural Resource Conservation Service.

Exxon to do soil remediation, park upgrades at Ancarrow’s Landing, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/10/14 – In May 2014, the ExxonMobil company agreed to restore for reuse approximately four acres of Ancarrow’s Landing along the James River, as part of the company’s environmental remediation of soil contaminated by arsenic and lead during operations between the 1920s and 1960s by the former Virginia Carolina Chemical Corporation.

Governor visits VIMS to sign stormwater management bill, William & Mary News, 5/19/14 – On May 15, 2014, Virginia Gov. Terry McCauliffe ceremonially signed companion bills passed by the 2014 Virginia General Assembly (HB 1173/SB 423) that delayed for six months (until January 2015) the deadline for localities to implement a local stormwater-management program, and provided that the Department of Environmental Quality will establish such a program if a locality chooses not to do so (if the locality is not required by the federal Clean Water to have a municipal separate storm sewer system, or MS4).

Counties should follow King and Queen’s lead and urge State Water Control Board to deny industrial sludge permit [editorial], Tidewater Review, 5/14/14 – On May 12, 2014, the King and Queen County Board of Supervisors voted to request that the State Water Control (SWCB) not grant a permit for Synagro, LLC (headquartered in Baltimore, Md.; online at to land-apply residual solid materials from industrial wastewater treatment to about 16,200 acres of farmland in King & Queen, King William, New Kent, Goochland, Hanover, Prince George and Surry counties.  The material would come from area hog-processing, poultry-processing, and paper-processing plants.  The SWCB is to consider Synagro’s permit application on June 27, 2014.

Out of Virginia but in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed
Maryland’s Oyster Population Continues to Improve, Highest since 1985, Southern Maryland News Net, 5/14/14 – In mid-May 2014, Maryland announced that the state’s fall 2013 oyster survey indicated that the “oyster biomass index” (a combined measure of oyster abundance and size) had doubled since 2010 and was at its highest value since 1985, when this monitoring started.

Water projects authorized by House, Associated Press, as published by Washington Post, 5/20/14 – On May 20, 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Water Resources Reform Development Act of 2013 (H.R. 3080), which among other things provisions authorizes over $15 billion for 34 water-related projects nationwide for navigation, flood-risk-management, hurricane-risk-reduction, and environmental restoration.  A restoration project in Virginia’s Lynnhaven River would receive about $23 million under the measure.  The House vote was on a conference report to reconcile the House bills with the Senate’s version, (S.601), which was passed by that body on May 15.  The Senate was to consider the conference version during the week of May 19-23, 2014.  Information on the content and status of Congressional bills is available online at the Library of Congress’ Web site.

NASA-UCI Study Indicates Loss of West Antarctic Glaciers Appears Unstoppable, NASA News Release, 5/12/14 – On May 12, 2014, NASA announced that researchers at that agency and at the University of California-Irvine have published research finding that glaciers in West Antarctica are “irreversibly” melting and that the melting will contribute to rises in sea levels for decades or centuries.

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