Category Archives: Land Use

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

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

For more information on cellulosic ethanol:
U.S. Department of Energy/Alternative Fuels Data Center, “Ethanol Feedstocks,” online at

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

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 Regarding natural gas pipelines, see particularly “Frequently Asked Questions About Natural Gas Transmission Pipelines Through Karst Terrains,” online (as PDF) at

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation/Virginia Natural Heritage Karst Program, online at

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

Karst Elsewhere

Bryant Watershed Project of West Plains, Missouri, “Karst in the Ozarks,” online at

Kentucky Geological Survey, “Karst Land in Kentucky,” online at

National Speleological Society, online at

U.S. Geological Survey, “Karst Topography – Teacher’s Guide and Paper Model,” online at

George Veni et al., “Living with Karst,” American Geological Institute Environmental Awareness Series, 2001; available online (as PDF) at

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  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; or contact the Institute at 2260 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-2260; phone (979) 845-1851; e-mail:

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

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

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

Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute at the University of Nebraska, online at

Water-related Items in Virginia Governor’s Office News Releases for August 2015: Fort Monroe Deed Transfer; Loans for Tazewell County July 2015 Flood Damages; Community Development Block Grants; and Coalfield Economic Development Partnership for Increasing Mining-related Exports.

Following are titles and short excerpts from four Virginia Governor’s Office news releases in August 2015, which relate to water resources or to other natural resource uses (like land use) with significant potential to affect water.  To access the full text of any release, click on the release title.

Governor McAuliffe Signs Deed to Transfer Fort Monroe Land to National Park Service, 8/25/15.   Excerpt: “Governor Terry McAuliffe today signed a deed that transfers land at Fort Monroe from the Commonwealth of Virginia to the National Park Service, solidifying Virginia’s commitment to turning the fort into a national monument for the enjoyment of tourists and history-buffs from all over the Commonwealth and country. … The document formally and legally finalizes the transfer of land at Fort Monroe from the Commonwealth of Virginia to the National Park Service. … The land transfer preserves a group of significant landmarks at Fort Monroe that highlight some of our nation’s most important events. Robert E. Lee lived at the Fort and helped design and construct the stone fortification. Jefferson Davis was imprisoned in a Fort casemate. Harriet Tubman spent time at the Fort after the Civil War, and Edgar Allen Poe was stationed there as a young soldier. The Fort also tells the significant story of the beginning and the end of slavery in the United States. … The deed signing marks the culmination of years of hard work by state leaders, the City of Hampton, the National Park Service, the historic preservation community, the National Park Conservation Association, and the Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park. To learn more about Fort Monroe, visit”

SBA Low-Interest Loans Available to Help Tazewell County Residents and Businesses Affected by July Floods, 8/20/15.   Excerpt: “…[T]he U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is making low-interest disaster loans available to homeowners, businesses, and private, non-profit organizations in Tazewell County to help them recover from severe flooding that occurred on July 5 [2015]. … Loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to help repair their home to its pre-disaster condition. Personal property loans are also available for homeowners or renters with up to $40,000 to help repair or replace personal items, such as clothing, furniture, and automobiles. Businesses that suffered damage can receive loans up to $2 million to help repair or replace damaged property or provide working capital.”

Governor McAuliffe Announces More Than $8.2 Million in Community Development Block Grants, 8/18/15.   Excerpt: Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced more than $8.2 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding for 12 projects in Virginia. Since 1982, the federally-funded CDBG program has been administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), and Virginia receives approximately $17 million annually for this grant program. … CDBG grants are awarded through a competitive process.  Most projects benefit low- and moderate-income persons, and many projects are targeted for the prevention or elimination of slums and blight conditions. During this year’s competitive cycle, 22 proposals were submitted by 21 localities, and 11 projects received the initial funding, with two projects receiving multi-year funding and one project receiving a letter of intent.” The three water-related 2015 award recipients and grant amounts are as follows:
Buchanan County, Hurley Regional Water Project Phase VI, $1,000,000; Dickenson County, Georges Fork Sewer Project, $1,000,000;
Wise County, Phase II Sewer Project for Roda, Osaka, and Stonega, $690,000.

Governor McAuliffe Announces Partnership with Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, 8/7/15.   Excerpt: “Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today the Go Global with Coal & Energy Technology (GGCET) program, a collaboration of the Governor’s Office, the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) as a result of the Governor’s 2014 Energy Plan. … The GGCET program assists coal and energy technology companies in the Virginia coalfield region in expanding their international business.”

NASA Earth-observing Satellite Programs Summarized in Arizona Water Resources Resarch Center Article in Spring 2015

“NASA Takes Earth’s Vital Signs by Satellite,” by Mary Ann Capehart, in the Spring 2015 issue Arizona Water Resource, from the Arizona Water Resources Research Center in Tucson, described four earth-observing satellite programs operated by the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA).

The four programs are the following:
1) Gravity Recovery and Space Experiment (GRACE), begun in 2002, measures changes in Earths’ gravitational pull from place to place, which measurements can be used to track water movements;
2) the Landsat series, launched in 1972, is a joint mission of NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to collect continuous images and reflected-energy measurements;
3) Soil Moisture Active Passive project (SMAP), started in January 2015, uses satellite images and ground sensors to map water in the first few inches of soil, allowing, for example, farmers to target irrigation; and
4) Global Precipitation Measurement project (GPM), started in February 2014, is a joint project between NASA and its counterpart agency in Japan to ccordinate precipitation measurements from 12 satellites.

The article is online at, or contact the Arizona center at (520) 621-9591, or e-mail:

A related article from Texas is “Satellites, Sensors and Soil,” by Sara Carney, in the Summer 2015 issue of Texas H2O, from the Texas Water Resources Institute at Texas A&M University; available online at

More information about NASA’s earth-observing programs is available online at

Chesapeake Bay landsat

Chesapeake Bay-watershed land-use image generated from Landsat 7 images in 2000. Image by University of Maryland’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Eath Science’s Application Center (RESAC), accessed at, 8/31/15.

Chesapeake Bay TMDL Upheld by Federal Appeals Court on July 6, 2015

On July 6, 2015, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, located in Philadelphia, upheld a September 2013 lower court ruling in favor of the U.S. EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) pollution-prevention plan (first published in December 2010), in a lawsuit by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Home Builders Association, and other organizations.  The Appeals Court panel had heard oral arguments in November 2014.

The case is American Farm Bureau v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; case number 13-4079; access to a PDF of the Appeals Court’s opinion is available online at  (click on the “Search for Opinions” link and use the case number).

EPA information on the TMDL is available online at   Farm Bureau information about the case is available online at

The Farm Bureau and the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit—first filed in January 2011—were appealing the September 13, 2013, ruling in favor of the EPA by Judge Sylvia H. Rambo in the federal district court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  The lawsuit alleged that the EPA exceeded its authority at the expense of state authority, used inaccurate or inadequate scientific information, and followed too short a regulatory timetable in developing the TMDL, but Judge Rambo upheld both the process and substance of the EPA’s actions.

During the appeals process, among the Bay watershed states, Virginia and Maryland filed briefs supporting the EPA; Delaware and the District of Columbia joined in Maryland’s brief; neither Pennsylvania nor New York filed a briefs on either side of the lawsuit; and West Virginia joined 20 other states and several Bay-watershed counties in filed in support of the Farm Bureau and other plaintiffs.  Several of the states supporting the Farm Bureau lawsuit are in the Mississippi River drainage, and part of their concern was that approval of the EPA process in the Chesapeake Bay may lead the agency to seek a TMDL for the impacts on the Gulf of Mexico of agriculture or other land uses in the vast Mississippi River basin.

US appeals court upholds Chesapeake Bay clean-up plan, Washington Post, 7/6/15.
Court upholds EPA in putting Chesapeake Bay on ‘pollution diet’, Baltimore Sun, 7/6/15.
Appeals Court hears oral arguments on Chesapeake Bay TMDL, Bay Journal, 11/24/14.
Pennsylvania won’t defend Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan in court, but ‘actively supports it’, Lancaster (Penn.) Online 5/13/14.
Challenge to Chesapeake cleanup tests EPA power, Associated Press, as published by Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4/29/14.
Virginia Files Amicus Brief In Support Of Chesapeake Bay Restoration, Virginia Attorney General’s Office News Release, 4/10/14.
Fight Over Chesapeake Bay Clean-Up, WVTF-FM (Roanoke, Va.), 2/5/14.
Wicomico [County, Md.] Joins Effort to Modify EPA Chesapeake Cleanup Plan, Delmarva Public Radio, 2/24/14.
Lancaster County [Penn.] joins fight against EPA in setting pollution limits for farmers, Lancaster (Pa.) Online, 2/4/14.
21 states, 8 counties join Farm Bureau challenge to Bay TMDL, Bay Journal, 2/5/14.
Virginia growers upset with latest Chesapeake Bay ruling, Southeast Farm Press, 9/18/13.
Judge upholds pollution fight in Chesapeake Bay cleanup, Associated Press, as published in Richmond Times-Dispatch, 9/15/13.
EPA can go forward with plan to limit pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, Washington Post, 9/13/13.

Previous Water Central News Grouper items (from 2011 to 2014) on this lawsuit are available at this link: