Category Archives: Groundwater

On Virginia Water Radio for 3-27-17: The Virginia Household Water Quality Program Helps Citizens Know Their Water Better

Virginia Water Radio’s latest episode for the week of March 27, 2017, is “Water from Wells, Springs, and Cisterns Gets a Check-up through the Virginia Household Water Quality Program.”  The 4 min./22 sec. episode, available online at, introduces a Virginia Tech and Virginia Cooperative Extension program that provides household well-, spring-, and cistern-testing; interpretation of results; and water-management information for Virginia citizens.

PHoto 1 Virginia Household Water Quality clinic ONE box of kits for pickup Mar20 2017 Seitz Hall USED Radio 361

A box of household water-sampling kits awaits pick-up by citizen participants at the March 20, 2017, kickoff for Virginia Household Water Quality’s clinic for the Montgomery County.

Virginia Water Radio’s is a weekly broadcast/podcast produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center.  The home page is  Have a listen or two!

Ground Water Rule, Published by EPA in 2006, is Focus of Webinar on 3/28/17 by the National Rural Water Association

On March 28, 2017, 3 p.m-4 p.m. EDT, the National Rural Water Association will hold a Webinar on the Ground Water Rule.  For more information on the Webinar or to register, visit

The Ground Water Rule was published by the U.S. EPA in November 2006 and took effect in December 2009.  The EPA’s Web site on the rule is  According to that site (at “Compliance”), the rule “establishes a risk-based approach to target ground water systems vulnerable to fecal contamination.  Ground water systems that are at risk of fecal contamination must take corrective action.  Corrective action reduces potential illness from exposure to microbial pathogens.  The rule applies to public water systems that use ground water as a source of drinking water.”  The EPA’s “Quick Reference Guide” to the rule is available online at

Virginians Who Use Private Wells, Springs, or Cisterns Can Get Inexpensive Baseline Testing and Assistance from the Virginia Household Water Quality Program and Master Well-owner Network; Drinking-water Clinics in 2017 Run from March 15 to November 1 in over 50 Localities

The Virginia Household Water Quality Program offers drinking-water clinics in which people who rely on private wells, springs, or cisterns can get their water tested inexpensively for key constituents and receive a report interpreting the results.  The cost to participate in 2017 is $55.  The clinics in 2017, running from March 15 to November 1, will cover over 50 localities.  A list of upcoming clinics in 2017 is available at this Web site:

Meanwhile, as of February 2017, the Virginia Master Well Owner network has over 180 members—volunteers as well as staff from Virginia Cooperative Extension and other state agencies—in several dozen Virginia localities who can assist Virginians with drinking-water well questions and problems.

Both programs are coordinated by the Virginia Tech Department of Biological Systems Engineering.  More information is available online at, or contact the coordinator of the programs, Erin James Ling, at (540) 231-9058 or

For a news account of the well-testing program, please see Virginia Tech researchers: Flint-like problems also present in Virginia wells, Roanoke Times, 4/10/16.

Geological Society of America’s Southeastern Section to Meet Mar. 30-31, 2017, in Richmond

On March 30-31, 2017, at the Omni Hotel in Richmond, Va., the Southeastern Section of the Geological Society of America will hold its annual meeting.  Water will be the specific focus of one of the meeting’s four symposia (“From Mountains to Coast: Biogeochemical Processes Affecting the Water Quality of the Bay in Our Backyard”) and several of the 20 themed sessions.

January 3, 2017, is the deadline for investigators to submit abstracts for proposed presentations.

For more information, visit; or contact the Southeastern Section secretary, Blair R. Tormey, at


Virginia State Water Commission Meeting on November 30, 2016, in Richmond; Focus on JLARC’s October 2016 Report, “Effectiveness of Virginia’s Water Resource Planning and Management”; Virginia Water Radio Episode and Full-meeting Audio Available

The Virginia State Water Commission met November 30, 2016, at 10 a.m., in House Room C of the General Assembly Building, 201 North 9th Street in Richmond.  More information on the meeting is available online at, or from the Virginia House of Delegates’ Clerk’s Office/Committee Operations, phone (804) 698-1540.

A Virginia Water Radio episode about the State Water Commission based on audio from the Nov. 30 meeting is available at this link (4 min./34 sec.).  An audio recording of the full Nov. 30 Commission meeting is available at this link (1 hr./47 min./15 sec.).

The focus of the Nov. 30 meeting was a discussion of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission’s (JLARC) October 2016 report, “Effectiveness of Virginia’s Water Resource Planning and Management,” October 2016 (114 pages), available online at  Slides from the presentation given at the Nov. 30 meeting by Jamie Bitz, chief legislative analyst at JLARC, are available at this PDF link.

According to the Division of Legislative Service’s Web page on the Commission, at, the Virginia General Assembly created the Commission to “study all aspects of water supply and allocation problems in the Commonwealth, whether these problems are of a quantitative or qualitative nature; and coordinate the legislative recommendations of all other state entities having responsibilities with respect to water supply and allocation issues.”  The Commission includes mostly members of the General Assembly plus two citizens.

The current members of the Commission are as follows:
Del. Thomas C. Wright, Jr., Chair
Del. David L. Bulova
Del. T. Scott Garrett
Del. Barry D. Knight
Del. Daniel W. Marshall, III
Del. John M. O’Bannon, III
Del. Luke E. Torian
Del. R. Lee Ware, Jr.
Sen. Lynwood W. Lewis, Jr.
Sen. Frank M. Ruff, Jr.
Sen. William M. Stanley, Jr.
Sen. Richard H. Stuart
Sen. Frank W. Wagner
Mr. Lamont W. Curtis
Mr. Richard A. Street

Groundwater Conflict Between Mississippi and Tennessee to be Considered by U.S. Supreme Court in 2016-17 Term

During the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2016-17 term, a special master for the Court is scheduled to hear arguments in the groundwater-related case of Mississippi v. Tennessee.  In the case, Mississippi claims that it has sovereign authority over groundwater within its surface borders, and that the city Memphis, Tennessee, is using groundwater that belongs to Mississippi, and that Mississippi should therefore be compensated.  The groundwater in question comes from the Sparta-Memphis Sand Aquifer underlying both states.

This is reportedly the first time the Supreme Court has considered a shared-aquifer conflict between two states, although the Court has heard cases regarding connections between groundwater and surface water.

According to the Supreme Court’s Blog site, the issues in the case are the following: “Whether the Court will grant Mississippi leave to file an original action to seek relief from respondents’ use of a pumping operation to take approximately 252 billion gallons of high-quality groundwater; (2) whether Mississippi has sole sovereign authority over and control of groundwater naturally stored within its borders, including in sandstone within Mississippi’s borders; and (3) whether Mississippi is entitled to damages, injunctive, and other equitable relief for the Mississippi intrastate groundwater intentionally and forcibly taken by respondents.”

The case could have implications for other states that share aquifers, including Virginia and North Carolina, which share the Potomac Aquifer, a groundwater source used significantly more in southeastern Virginia than in northeastern North Carolina.

The Supreme Court docket number is 220143.

Mississippi’s Claim That Tennessee Is Stealing Groundwater Is A Supreme Court First, Circle of Blue (produced in Traverse City, Mich.), 10/3/16.

Supreme Court of the United States Blog, “Mississippi v. Tennessee,” online at

Ogallala Aquifer Research in Central U.S. States Receives $10 Million USDA Grant in 2016

On March 22, 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a four-year, $10 million grant for research on water challenges in the region of the Ogallala Aquifer, a groundwater source providing domestic and agricultural water in several Midwestern and Great Plains states.  The grant will be coordinated by Colorado State University and also involves Kansas State University, the University of Nebraska, New Mexico State University, Oklahoma State University, Texas A&M University, and Texas Tech University.  For more information, please see “Ogallala Aquifer is Focus of New USDA-funded Research Project,” in the Spring 2016 issue of Water Current (Vol. 48, No. 2) from the Nebraska Water Center, online at; or USDA Awards $8.5 Million to Improve Communities’ Water Sources, USDA News Release, 3/22/16.

The Ogallala research grant is part of a larger set of USDA grants related to sustainable water for agriculture, under the “Water for Agriculture Challenge Area.”  More information on that program is available online at

For another Water Central News Grouper post on the Ogallala Aquifer, please see, Groundwater Decreases in Texas Portion of Ogallala Aquifer Described in July 2012 Newsletter from Lubbock, Texas, posted 9/24/12.

ogallalaArea underlain by the Ogallala Aquifer.  Map from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, “Ogallala Aquifer Initiative,” online at

41-lake-along-rt-20-in-cherry-county-jul13-2011-used-grouper-9-21-16View from U.S. Rt. 20 in Cherry County, Nebraska, July 11, 2013.  The area is part of Nebraska’s Sand Hills region, which is underlain by the Ogallala Aquifer.