Category Archives: Land Use

Items related to agriculture, preservation, development, forestry, and other land-based activities that affect water resources.

Historic Spring-fed Pools and Structures in Warm Springs, Va., Slated for Restoration and Rehabilitation

In January 2016, officials at the Homestead Resort in Bath County, Va., owned by Omni Hotels and Resorts, announced that they had begun a historic structures report on the spring-fed pools and surrounding bathhouses at Warm Springs (a few miles away from the Homestead location in Hot Springs) that have drawn visitors to the area since at least the days of Thomas Jefferson. The report is to be the first step in a process of repairing and restoring the property, which have been described as “threatened” because of structural damage and lack of maintenance over time. Restoration work is to be guided by five-member advisory committee that includes historic preservation experts.

Source: Step in the right direction for “endangered” Jefferson Pools, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1/17/16.

Virginia Grand Basin Clean Water Farm Award Winners for 2015

On December 7, 2015, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, in cooperation with Virginia’s 47 soil and water conservation districts, awarded the Virginia Grand Basin Clean Water Farm Awards to 10 farms, one each in the Commonwealth’s major river basins. The Clean Water Farm program recognizes farmers who implement water-quality best management practices, and the Grand Basin Awards are given to the farms that implement particularly exceptional water-quality programs.

The winning farmers and farms in 2015, by major river basin, were as follows:

Big Sandy and Tennessee River
Justin and Lori McClellan, Meadowbrook Farm
Nominated by the Evergreen Soil and Water Conservation District

Chowan River
Jeff and Liz Parrish, W.J. Farms
Nominated by the Southside Soil and Water Conservation District

Coastal
Steve W. Sturgis, Tri-S Farms
Nominated by the Eastern Shore Soil and Water Conservation District

James River
Robert “Bobby” M. Jones, Poor House Dairy
Nominated by the Piedmont Soil and Water Conservation District

New River
Matthew, Chase and Don Heldreth, Heldreth Farm
Nominated by the Big Walker Soil and Water Conservation District

Potomac River
Vince and Sharon DiRenzo, North Fork Fields
Nominated by the Loudoun Soil and Water Conservation District

Rappahannock River
Bob Wilbanks, Wilbanks Farm
Nominated by the Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District

Roanoke River
David and Lorrie Barron, Poplar Grove/Wildwood Berries and Produce
Nominated by the Southside Soil and Water Conservation District

Shenandoah River
James and Amanda Holsinger, Holsinger Homeplace Farms
Nominated by the Shenandoah Valley Soil and Water Conservation District

York River
Albert J. McGhee Jr., Vivian Scott Richardson Sr. Memorial Farm
Nominated by the Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District.

More information on the Virginia Clean Water Farm Awards and more details on the 2015 Grand Basin winners are available from the DCR online at http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/soil-and-water/cwfa-winners; or contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District (directory available from the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, online at http://vaswcd.org/district-directory).

Natural Coastal Infrastructure (Living Shorelines) to be Focus of Workshop in Norfolk, Va., Feb. 9-10, 2016

A 2-day workshop entitled Engineering, Design, and Implementation of Natural Coastal Infrastructure Solutions in Hampton Roads, Va. will be held February 9-10, 2016, in Norfolk, Va.  The event is organized by Old Dominion University, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association the Association of State Floodplain Managers, and the Environmental Defense Fund.  For more information, visit: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/workshop-designing-natural-infrastructure-for-coastal-virginia-registration-19554540156?aff=ebrowse; or contact Shannon Cundiff at scunniff@edf.org.

Chesapeake Bay Program Approach for Granting Nutrient-reduction Credits for Farms’ Nutrient-management Plans Described in Nov. 2015 Bay Journal Article

In November 2015, the Chesapeake Bay Program approved a plan to award greater nutrient-reduction credits for nutrient-management plans by farms in the Bay watershed while also requiring Bay states to improve the information they provide on how well the nutrient-management plans are actually implemented. Reductions of the levels of plant nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus in Bay waters are a key goal under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) pollution-reduction plan issued by the U.S. EPA in December 2010, but the Bay Program (a regional partnership among federal and state agencies, local governments, non-profit organizations, and academic institutions that leads and directs Chesapeake Bay restoration), has struggled with how much credit farm nutrient-management plans should receive toward state nutrient-reduction goals.  This Nov. 16, 2015, Bay Journal article, Bay Program OKs controversial nutrient reduction credits for farms, describes the developments over the past several years to address that problem.

Cellulosic Ethanol Plant Considered World’s Largest Opened in Iowa in October 2015

On October 30, 2015, DuPont officially opened with is believed to be the world’s largest plant producing cellulosic ethanol.   The plant produces ethanol from corn stover–that is, corncobs, stalks, and other materials remaining from harvest of corn grain.  The plant, in Nevada, Iowa, is expected ultimately to produce 30 million gallons of ethanol per year, using an estimated 375,000 tons of stover from about 500 farms in the area.  DuPont has said it plans to sell most of the plant’s product in California, which has a low-carbon fuel standard.

Source: World’s largest cellulosic ethanol plant opens, Des Moines Register, 11/1/15.

For more information from DuPont on the Nevada, Ia., plant:
DuPont Web site at http://www.dupont.com/products-and-services/industrial-biotechnology/advanced-biofuels/cellulosic-ethanol/nevada-iowa-cellulosic-ethanol-plant.html.

For more information on cellulosic ethanol:
U.S. Department of Energy/Alternative Fuels Data Center, “Ethanol Feedstocks,” online at http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/ethanol_feedstocks.html.

P. C. Badger, “Ethanol from Cellolose: A General Review,” pp. 17–21 in J. Janick and A. Whipkey (eds.), Trends in new crops and new uses, ASHS Press, Alexandria, Va; available online at https://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/ncnu02/v5-017.html.

Karst Terrain Information Sources

Karst terrain, or karst topography, is a landscape underlain by bedrock of limestone, dolomite, or other material that can is more soluble in water than other types of bedrock.  The solubility of the bedrock results in a landscape characterized by caves, sinkholes, and other unusual surface and groundwater features.  Karst terrain has gotten increased attention in Virginia in 2015, because the proposed route for the Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline would pass through karst areas in several western Virginia counties.  But beyond its connection to natural gas pipelines, karst terrain presents special concerns for other land uses and their potential connections to groundwater resources.  In addition, karst-terrain caves have biological significance, providing habitats for bats, certain amphibians, and other creatures.

Here are some sources of information on karst terrain in general and in relation to natural gas pipelines.

Karst in Virginia

Duncan Adams, Karst landscapes bring challenges, concerns for pipeline projects; Areas with sinkholes, springs and caves may be vulnerable to problems, Roanoke Times, 10/25/15.

Virginia Cave Board, online at http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/cavehome.shtml. Regarding natural gas pipelines, see particularly “Frequently Asked Questions About Natural Gas Transmission Pipelines Through Karst Terrains,” online (as PDF) at http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/document/faq-nat-gas-trans-pipelines-karst.pdf.

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation/Virginia Natural Heritage Karst Program, online at http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/karsthome.

Virginia Water Resources Research Center, “In the Cave, by Pepe Deluxe, for Virginia Cave Week,” Virginia Water Radio Episode 158 (4-22-13), audio and show notes online at http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/2013/04/episode-158-4-22-13-in-cave-by-pepe.html.

Karst Elsewhere

Bryant Watershed Project of West Plains, Missouri, “Karst in the Ozarks,” online at http://www.watersheds.org/earth/karst.html.

Kentucky Geological Survey, “Karst Land in Kentucky,” online at https://www.uky.edu/KGS/water/general/karst/index.htm.

National Speleological Society, online at http://www.caves.org/.

U.S. Geological Survey, “Karst Topography – Teacher’s Guide and Paper Model,” online at http://geomaps.wr.usgs.gov/parks/cave/karst.html.

George Veni et al., “Living with Karst,” American Geological Institute Environmental Awareness Series, 2001; available online (as PDF) at http://www.agiweb.org/environment/publications/karst.pdf.

Water-Energy-Food Nexus: Analysis Tool from Texas A&M, Plus Other Information Sources

In 2013, researchers at Texas A&M University, Purdue University in Indiana, and the Persian Gulf country of Qatar developed WEF Nexus 2.0, a computer-based modeling tool of analyzing how changes in any one of energy use, agriculture, or water use within a region can affect the other two.  The modeling tool was one of the first of its kind to be developed, but others now exist, according to Dr Rabi Mohtar, the lead researcher on the project at Texas A&M.  The tool is available online at http://www.wefnexustool.org.  For more information, see “Quantifying Connections” in the Summer 2015 issue of Texas H2O, from the Texas Water Resources Institute, located at Texas A&M, available online at http://twri.tamu.edu/publications/txh2o/summer-2015/quantifying-connections/; or contact the Institute at 2260 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-2260; phone (979) 845-1851; e-mail: twri@tamu.edu.

Following are some other information sources to learn more about the connections among water, energy, and food.

U.S. Department of Energy Releases Water-Energy Nexus Report,” Department of Energy news release, 6/24/14.

United Nations Web site, “UN Water/Topics,” online at http://www.unwater.org/topics/teaching-water/en/.

“2015 Water Resources Conference of the Virginias: Water—Energy—Agriculture” (held Oct. 5-6, 2015, in Roanoke, W. Va.), online at http://wrcvirginias.org/.

University of North Carolina, “Nexus 2014: Water, Food, Climate and Energy Conference” (held March 5-8, 2014, in Chapel Hill, N.C.), online at http://nexusconference.web.unc.edu/.

Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute at the University of Nebraska, online at http://waterforfood.nebraska.edu/.