Category Archives: Laws&Regs

Virginia Water-related Government Meetings for Feb. 16-Mar. 1, 2017; Including 2017 Virginia General Assembly Information

For more information, click on underlined meeting dates. Click here for the Commonwealth Calendar listing of all government meetings open to the public, and here for the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall listing of all government meetings of a regulatory nature.

For other, non-governmental, events, please see the Water Central News Grouper post, Quick Guide to Virginia Water-related Events.

REGULAR MEETINGS OF STATEWIDE BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS

2/16/17, 8 a.m.: Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers, and Landscape Architects/Land Surveyors Exam Workshop.  At the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, 9960 Mayland Drive in Richmond.

2/17/17, 10:30 a.m.: Litter Control and Recycling Fund Advisory Board.  At the Department of Environmental Quality Piedmont Regional Office, 4949-A Cox Road in Glen Allen (Henrico County).

2/21/17, 4 p.m.: Marine Resource Commission’s Crab Management Advisory Committee.  At 2600 Washington Avenue in Newport News.

2/22/17, 11:30 a.m.: Land Conservation Foundation Board of Trustees Working Group (discussing the Foundation’s grant manual and scoring).  At the Department of Conservation and Recreation Main Office, 600 East Main Street in Richmond.

2/23/17, 9:30 a.m.: Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers, and Landscape Architects/Regulatory Review Committee.  At the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, 9960 Mayland Drive in Richmond.

2/24/17, 1 p.m.: Waste Management Board.  At the Department of Environmental Quality Main Office, 629 East Main Street in Richmond.

2/25/17, 11 a.m.: Cave Board.  At Bear Creek Lake State Park in Cumberland County.

2/27/17, 6 p.m.: Marine Resource Commission’s Fisheries Management Advisory Committee.  At 2600 Washington Avenue in Newport News.

2/28/17, 9:30 a.m.: Marine Resources Commission.  At 2600 Washington Avenue in Newport News.

2/28/17, 2 p.m.: Marine Products Board.  At the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Watermen’s Hall 1208 Greate Road in Gloucester Point (Gloucester County).

*          *          *

VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY WATER-RELATED MEETINGS

For meetings of legislative committees and commissions, see http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?171+oth+MTG.  Links to information about General Assembly commissions, councils, and special interim committees coordinated by the Division of Legislative Services are available online at http://dls.virginia.gov/commissions.html.

1/11/17—2/25/17, Richmond: Virginia General Assembly.  The 2017 General Assembly convenes on January 11 and is scheduled for 46 days; this is a so-called “short session,” which is held in all odd-numbered years.  (Sixty-day “long sessions” are scheduled for each even-numbered year.)  The reconvened (“veto”) session is scheduled for April 5.  During long sessions, the Commonwealth’s budget for the upcoming two years is set; amendments to the current biennial budget may be considered both in long and short sessions.  In some years, sessions are extended beyond the scheduled length, particularly for budget discussions (any session may be extended for up to 30 days).  The General Assembly’s main Web page is http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/index.php; at that site, click on the “Members and Sessions” for session calendars.  The House of Delegates meeting schedule is available at http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/house/schedule/meetingSchedule.php.  Live video streams of floor sessions from the House are available at http://virginia-house.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3; as of 2017, archived files of the House floor sessions are also available at that site, along with a search function for specific bills or members.  The Senate meeting schedule and the floor sessions’ live video stream are available at http://virginia-senate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3.

Committees are key parts of the General Assembly process.  Legislation about water or about activities that can affect water may be assigned to any of several standing committees, most of which meet weekly during the General Assembly session.  Information about all standing committees—including membership, meeting times, and legislation being considered—is available online at http://lis.virginia.gov/151/com/COM.HTM.  Two committees that receive many water-related bills are the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee, which meets weekly on Wednesdays, 8:30 a.m. (sometimes 9 a.m), in House Room C of the General Assembly Building; and the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee, which meets weekly on Thursdays, one-half hour after adjournment of the day’s floor session, in Senate Room B of the General Assembly Building.  The General Assembly Building is located at 201 North 9th Street in Richmond.  In 2017, live-streaming of committee meetings is being made available by Progress Virginia through its “Eyes on Richmond” Web site, online at http://104.236.84.169/.

The main committees involved in the budget process are the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.  The House Appropriations Committee meets Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 1/2 hour after adjournment, in the 9th Floor Appropriations Room of the General Assembly Building.  The Senate Finance Committee meets Tuesday and Wednesday, 9:00 a.m., in Senate Room B of the General Assembly Building.

Relevant subcommittee meetings for this period:

None scheduled.

Natural resource-related caucus meetings for this period:

2/16/17, 7 a.m.; and 2/23/17, 7 a.m.: Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus.  6th Floor Speaker’s Conference Room, General Assembly Building, 201 North 9th Street in Richmond.

2/16/17, 8 a.m.: Outdoor Recreation Caucus.  3rd Floor East Conference Room, General Assembly Building, 201 North 9th Street in Richmond.

2/20/17, 4:30 p.m.: Virginia Environment and Renewable Energy Caucus.  4th Floor West Conference Room, General Assembly Building, 201 North 9th Street in Richmond.

*          *          *

MEETINGS ABOUT TOTAL MAXIMUM DAILY LOADS (or TMDLs) for IMPAIRED WATERS

For more information about TMDLs in Virginia, click here for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality TMDL Web site; click on “Public Notices” in the menu to the left to access upcoming meetings and public-comment periods.  A search tool to find approved TMDL reports is available at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterQualityInformationTMDLs/TMDL/TMDLDevelopment/ApprovedTMDLReports.aspx.

2/16/17, 10 a.m.: Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) outreach meetings on Phase III Watershed Implementation Plans for the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, published in December 2010.  At the DEQ Valley Regional Office, 4411 Early Road in Harrisonburg.  According to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for this meeting, information will be provided on the status of on-going efforts to clean up the Bay, improvements in Bay water quality, expectations and roles for the Phase III WIP and timelines. This event will be focused on staff of local governments and of soil and water conservation districts.  Another such outreach meeting will be held 2/21/17, 1 p.m., at the DEQ Northern Regional Office, 13901 Crown Court in Woodbridge; this meeting is especially for elected officials.

2/23/17, 2 p.m., on the TMDL study of bacterial and aquatic life (benthic) impairments in Woods Creek, located in the Maury River/James River basin in Rockbridge County and the City of Lexington.  At the Rockbridge Regional Library, 138 South Main Street in Lexington.

*          *          *

MEETINGS ON OTHER SPECIFIC TOPICS
(topics listed alphabetically)

Energy – Climate Change
2/28/17, 1 p.m.: Executive Order 57 Working Group.  At 1111 East Broad Street in Richmond.  This group, established by an executive order issued by Gov. Terry McAuliffe on June 28, 2016, is to evaluate options under existing authority for the Commonwealth to reduce carbon emissions from the energy sector.  Executive Order 57 is available online at https://governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/newsarticle?articleId=15762.

Energy – Coal Ash Management
2/16/17, 7 p.m.:  Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public hearing concerning the solid-waste permitting processes associated with the closure of the Dominion Virginia Power—Possum Point Power Station coal ash ponds.  At Potomac Senior High School, 3401 Panther Pride Drive in Dumfries (Prince William County).  According to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for this meeting, “the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will convene a public hearing on a draft permit from DEQ to address closure of the of the coal combustion residual (CCR) surface impoundments, at the Possum Point Power Station in Dumfries, Prince William County, Virginia.  This proposed permit was prepared in accordance with and includes requirements of the EPA Final Rule on the Disposal of CCR (EPA CCR Rule) and the Virginia Solid Waste Management Regulations, which incorporate the EPA CCR Rule.  The proposed closure includes closure in place of Surface Impoundment Pond D with installation of a final cover system and closure by removal of Surface Impoundment Ponds A, B, C and E.  This proposed permit also includes EPA CCR Rule requirements, post-closure care requirements for Surface Impoundment Pond D as well as groundwater monitoring and surface water monitoring at the facility.”   Additional information on the draft permit is available at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/LandProtectionRevitalization/PermittingCompliance/SolidWastePermitActions.aspx.”

More information on coal ash management in Virginia is available from the DEQ online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/ConnectWithDEQ/EnvironmentalInformation/CoalAshPermits.aspx.  For more information coal ash closure in Virginia, please see this News Grouper post: Closure of Coal Ash Ponds at Dominion and APCO Power Stations in Virginia.

Fort Monroe
2/16/17, 1 p.m.: Fort Monroe Authority Board of Trustees.  At the Patrick Henry Building, 1111 East Broad Street in Richmond.  In 2011, the Virginia General Assembly (Senate Bill 1400) established the Fort Monroe Authority to manage the historic areas of Fort Monroe and Old Point Comfort—at the confluence of Hampton Roads with the Chesapeake Bay—after the federal government closed its military facilities there.  Fort Monroe had been a U.S. military base since 1836.  In 2011, the area was designated as Fort Monroe National Monument (http://www.nps.gov/fomr/index.htm).  More information about Fort Monroe and the Authority is available online at http://www.fmauthority.com/.

Land and Watershed Management
2/23/17, 10 a.m.: Soil and Water Conservation Board’s Conservation Planning Stakeholder Advisory Group.  At the Department of Environmental Quality Piedmont Regional Office, 4949-A Cox Road in Glen Allen (Henrico County).  According to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for this meeting, “[o]n December 7, 2016, the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board authorized the Department [of Conservation and Recreation] to establish a stakeholder advisory group (SAG) for the Conservation Plan Program.  The SAG will provide guidance and offer recommendations into the resources to be considered, components of a plan, training and certification requirements, and other policy and Program considerations.”

Scenic Rivers
2/16/17, 12 p.m.: Historic Falls of the James Scenic River Advisory Board.  At James River Park Headquarters, 4301 Riverside Drive in Richmond.

Stormwater
2/24/17, 9:30 a.m.: Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Technical Advisory Committee on the general permit for stormwater discharges from Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems.  At the DEQ Piedmont Regional Office, 4949-A Cox Road in Glen Allen (Henrico County).  This technical advisory committee was established to assist in the development of amendments and the reissuance of the General Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems (VPDES) Permit for Discharges of Stormwater from Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems.  The pertinent part of the Virginia Administrative Code is Section 9 VAC 25-890 (formerly Part XV, Sect. 4 VAC 50-60).  The Notice of Intended Regulatory Action was published in the Virginia Register of Regulations on July 11, 2016.  More information about this regulatory action is available online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/viewchapter.cfm?chapterid=2870.  The DEQ’s Web site for the Virginia Stormwater Management Program is http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/StormwaterManagement.aspx.

Stream Protection Rule Regarding Coal Mining Impacts on Waterways Rescinded in February 2017 After Finalization in December 2016

In early February 2017, Congress used the Congressional Review Act to rescind the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement’s (OSMRE) “Stream Protection Rule,” on impacts of coal mining on waterways.  The rule had been finalized with Federal Register publication on December 20, 2016.  OSMRE’s Web site on the proposed rule is at http://www.osmre.gov/programs/rcm/streamprotectionrule.shtm; a link to the text of the proposed rule is available there.  OSMRE first proposed the rule on July 16, 2015 (the draft rule was published in the Federal Register on July 27, 2015).

According to the OSMRE Web site on 2/14/17, the rule was intended to have done the following:

“…[Define] ‘material damage to the hydrologic balance outside the permit area’ for the first time…clarifying that the statutory prohibition on the approval of proposed operations that would result in material damage to the hydrologic balance outside the permit area applies to both surface and underground mining operations.  Under SMCRA [the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, passed in 1977], the regulatory authority may not approve a permit application unless the application demonstrates, and the regulatory authority finds, that the proposed operation would not result in material damage to the hydrologic balance outside the permit area.

“…[Require] that the regulatory authority specify the point at which adverse mining-related impacts on groundwater and surface water would constitute material damage to the hydrologic balance outside the permit area reach that level of damage.  It further provides that the regulatory authority must specify threshold values for surface water and groundwater parameters that will trigger an evaluation of whether the permit must be revised to prevent the occurrence of material damage to the hydrologic balance outside the permit area.

“…[Expand] the baseline data requirements for permit applications for proposed coal mining operations to ensure that the permittee and the regulatory authority have a complete picture of pre-mining conditions to which the impacts of mining can be compared.  Monitoring during mining and reclamation will include a comprehensive suite of parameters for both surface water and groundwater to ensure that the impacts of mining are identified in a manner that will enable timely initiation of corrective measures.

“…[Require] the restoration of the physical form, hydrologic function, and ecological function of the segment of a perennial or intermittent stream that a permittee mines through.  Additionally, it requires that the post-mining surface configuration of the reclaimed mine site include a drainage pattern, including ephemeral streams, similar to the pre-mining drainage pattern, with exceptions for stability, topographical changes, fish and wildlife habitat, etc.

“…[Require] the establishment of a 100-foot-wide streamside vegetative corridor of native species (including riparian species, when appropriate) along each bank of any restored or permanently-diverted perennial, intermittent, or ephemeral stream.”

The proposed rule’s announcement in July 2015 raised immediate objections from the National Mining Association, some elected officials from mining states like West Virginia, and others about its potential economic impacts.  On the other hand, some environmental organizations criticized the proposal for allowing some variance, under certain conditions, from the 100-foot buffer requirement established in 1983; those conditions are described in the proposed rule on p.364 (part of the section entitled, “What additional requirements apply to proposed activities in, through, or adjacent to streams?”).

The Stream Protection Rule was the latest in a series of regulatory and litigation developments since the 1977 passage of the federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act.  Some of those developments that led to the Stream Protection Rule were the following:
*1983 OSMRE rule requiring a 100-foot buffer zone along streams;
*2008 OSMRE Stream Buffer Zone Rule allowing deposition of mining materials within the 100-foot zone, with certain requirements for reducing impacts;
*2009 Memorandum of Understanding among the Interior Department, U.S. EPA, and Army Corps of Engineers on reducing stream impacts of coal mining, simultaneously starting OSMRE’s process to develop the current proposed regulation; and
*February 2014 ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia vacating OSMRE’s 2008 Stream Buffer Zone Rule and reinstating the 1983 buffer zone.

Sources:

House Republicans Vote to End Rule Stopping Coal Mining Debris From Being Dumped in Streams, Associated Press, as published by Time, 2/1/17.

Republicans Move to Block Rule on Coal Mining Near Streams, New York Times, 2/2/17.

Congress passes first rollback of Obama environmental rule, USA Today, 2/2/17.

Federal Register, “Stream Protection Rule,” 81 FR 93066, 12/20/16, online at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/12/20/2016-29958/stream-protection-rule.

Interior Department Finalizes Stream Protection Rule to Safeguard Communities from Coal Mining Impacts, U.S. Department of the Interior News Release, 12/19/16.

Interior Department Unveils Proposed Stream Protection Rule to Safeguard Communities from Coal Mining Operations, U.S. Department of Interior News Release, 7/16/15.

National Mining Association Calls on Congress to Block OSM’s Costly, Unnecessary Stream Rule
, National Mining Association News Release, 7/16/15.

Interior unveils rule aimed at protecting streams from mining
, and Industry vows to fight ‘needless and conflicting’ stream rule, both from Greenwire, E&E Publishing, 7/16/15 (subscription required for access).

Virginia Water-related Government Meetings for Feb. 9-22, 2017

For more information, click on underlined meeting dates. Click here for the Commonwealth Calendar listing of all government meetings open to the public, and here for the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall listing of all government meetings of a regulatory nature.

For other, non-governmental, events, please see the Water Central News Grouper post, Quick Guide to Virginia Water-related Events.

REGULAR MEETINGS OF STATEWIDE BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS

2/9/17, 11 a.m.: Virginia Outdoors Foundation.  At the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, 7870 Villa Park Drive, Suite 400 (Villa Park 3) in Henrico.

2/9/17, 9:30 a.m.: Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers, and Landscape Architects/Regulatory Review Committee-Land Surveyors Section.  At the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, 9960 Mayland Drive in Richmond.

2/15/17, 9:30 a.m.: Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers, and Landscape Architects/Professional Engineers & Land Surveyors Section.  At the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, 9960 Mayland Drive in Richmond.

2/15/17, 11:30 a.m.; and 2/16/17, 8 a.m.: Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers, and Landscape Architects/Land Surveyors Exam Workshops.  At the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, 9960 Mayland Drive in Richmond.

2/17/17, 10:30 a.m.: Litter Control and Recycling Fund Advisory Board.  At the Department of Environmental Quality Piedmont Regional Office, 4949-A Cox Road in Glen Allen (Henrico County).

2/21/17, 4 p.m.: Marine Resource Commission’s Crab Management Advisory Committee.  At 2600 Washington Avenue in Newport News.

2/22/17, 11:30 a.m.: Land Conservation Foundation Board of Trustees Working Group (discussing the Foundation’s grant manual and scoring).  At the Department of Conservation and Recreation Main Office, 600 East Main Street in Richmond.

*          *          *

VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY WATER-RELATED MEETINGS

For meetings of legislative committees and commissions, see http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?171+oth+MTG.  Links to information about General Assembly commissions, councils, and special interim committees coordinated by the Division of Legislative Services are available online at http://dls.virginia.gov/commissions.html.

1/11/17—2/25/17, Richmond: Virginia General Assembly.  The 2017 General Assembly convenes on January 11 and is scheduled for 46 days; this is a so-called “short session,” which is held in all odd-numbered years.  (Sixty-day “long sessions” are scheduled for each even-numbered year.)  The reconvened (“veto”) session is scheduled for April 5.  During long sessions, the Commonwealth’s budget for the upcoming two years is set; amendments to the current biennial budget may be considered both in long and short sessions.  In some years, sessions are extended beyond the scheduled length, particularly for budget discussions (any session may be extended for up to 30 days).  The General Assembly’s main Web page is http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/index.php; at that site, click on the “Members and Sessions” for session calendars.  The House of Delegates meeting schedule is available at http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/house/schedule/meetingSchedule.php.  Live video streams of floor sessions from the House are available at http://virginia-house.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3; as of 2017, archived files of the House floor sessions are also available at that site, along with a search function for specific bills or members.  The Senate meeting schedule and the floor sessions’ live video stream are available at http://virginia-senate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3.

Committees are key parts of the General Assembly process.  Legislation about water or about activities that can affect water may be assigned to any of several standing committees, most of which meet weekly during the General Assembly session.  Information about all standing committees—including membership, meeting times, and legislation being considered—is available online at http://lis.virginia.gov/151/com/COM.HTM.  Two committees that receive many water-related bills are the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee, which meets weekly on Wednesdays, 8:30 a.m. (sometimes 9 a.m), in House Room C of the General Assembly Building; and the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee, which meets weekly on Thursdays, one-half hour after adjournment of the day’s floor session, in Senate Room B of the General Assembly Building.  The General Assembly Building is located at 201 North 9th Street in Richmond.  In 2017, live-streaming of committee meetings is being made available by Progress Virginia through its “Eyes on Richmond” Web site, online at http://104.236.84.169/.

The main committees involved in the budget process are the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.  The House Appropriations Committee meets Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 1/2 hour after adjournment, in the 9th Floor Appropriations Room of the General Assembly Building.  The Senate Finance Committee meets Tuesday and Wednesday, 9:00 a.m., in Senate Room B of the General Assembly Building.

Relevant subcommittee meetings for this period:

2/9/17, 4 p.m., and 2/16/17, 4 p.m: House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee/Chesapeake Subcommittee.  5th Floor East Conference Room, General Assembly Building, 201 North 9th Street in Richmond.

2/15/17, 4 p.m.: House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources/Natural Resources Subcommittee.  8th Floor West Conference Room, General Assembly Building, 201 North 9th Street in Richmond.

Natural resource-related caucus meetings for this period:

2/9/17, 7 a.m., and 2/16/17, 7 a.m.: Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus.  6th Floor Speaker’s Conference Room, General Assembly Building, 201 North 9th Street in Richmond.

2/13/17, 4:30 p.m.: Virginia Environment and Renewable Energy Caucus.  4th Floor West Conference Room, General Assembly Building, 201 North 9th Street in Richmond.

2/16/17, 8 a.m.: Outdoor Recreation Caucus.  3rd Floor East Conference Room, General Assembly Building, 201 North 9th Street in Richmond.

*          *          *

MEETINGS ABOUT TOTAL MAXIMUM DAILY LOADS (or TMDLs) for IMPAIRED WATERS

For more information about TMDLs in Virginia, click here for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality TMDL Web site; click on “Public Notices” in the menu to the left to access upcoming meetings and public-comment periods.  A search tool to find approved TMDL reports is available at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterQualityInformationTMDLs/TMDL/TMDLDevelopment/ApprovedTMDLReports.aspx.

None during this period.

*          *          *

MEETINGS ON OTHER SPECIFIC TOPICS
(topics listed alphabetically)

Agriculture/Forestry
2/13/17, 9:30 a.m.: Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Agricultural Best Management Practices Cost-share Program Technical Advisory Committee.  At the Virginia Department of Forestry, 900 Natural Resources Drive in Charlottesville.

Energy – Coal Ash Management
2/15/17, 7 p.m., : Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public hearing concerning the solid-waste permitting processes associated with the closure of the AEP/Appalachian Power Company—Clinch River Power Station coal ash ponds.  At the Russell County Conference Center, 139 Highland Drive in Lebanon.  According to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for this meeting, “the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will convene a public hearing on a draft permit from DEQ to address closure of a coal combustion residual (CCR) surface impoundment, Ash Pond 1, at the Appalachian Power Company Clinch River Facility in Carbo, Russell County, Virginia.  The proposed permit addresses requirements from the EPA Final Rule on the Disposal of CCR and Virginia Solid Waste Management Regulations.  This proposed permit also includes post-closure care, groundwater monitoring, and surface water monitoring requirements.  Additional information on the draft permit is available at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/LandProtectionRevitalization/PermittingCompliance/SolidWastePermitActions.aspx.”

2/16/17, 7 p.m.:  Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public hearing concerning the solid-waste permitting processes associated with the closure of the Dominion Virginia Power—Possum Point Power Station coal ash ponds.  At Potomac Senior High School, 3401 Panther Pride Drive in Dumfries (Prince William County).  According to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for this meeting, “the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will convene a public hearing on a draft permit from DEQ to address closure of the of the coal combustion residual (CCR) surface impoundments, at the Possum Point Power Station in Dumfries, Prince William County, Virginia.  This proposed permit was prepared in accordance with and includes requirements of the EPA Final Rule on the Disposal of CCR (EPA CCR Rule) and the Virginia Solid Waste Management Regulations, which incorporate the EPA CCR Rule.  The proposed closure includes closure in place of Surface Impoundment Pond D with installation of a final cover system and closure by removal of Surface Impoundment Ponds A, B, C and E.  This proposed permit also includes EPA CCR Rule requirements, post-closure care requirements for Surface Impoundment Pond D as well as groundwater monitoring and surface water monitoring at the facility.”   Additional information on the draft permit is available at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/LandProtectionRevitalization/PermittingCompliance/SolidWastePermitActions.aspx.”

More information on coal ash management in Virginia is available from the DEQ online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/ConnectWithDEQ/EnvironmentalInformation/CoalAshPermits.aspx.  For more information coal ash closure in Virginia, please see this News Grouper post: Closure of Coal Ash Ponds at Dominion and APCO Power Stations in Virginia.

Wastewater Regulation
2/9/17, 2 p.m.: Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public hearing on reissuance and possible amendments to the general Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (VPDES) permit for Vehicle Wash Facilities and Laundry Facilities.  At the DEQ Piedmont Regional Office, 4949-A Cox Road in Glen Allen (Henrico County).  The relevant section of the Virginia Administrative Code is 9 VAC 25-194.  The proposed amendments are published in the January 9, 2017, issue of the Virginia Register of Regulations.  The public comment period runs 1/9/17 to 3/10/17.  More information on the process of this regulatory action is available online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/viewchapter.cfm?chapterid=1897.

Chesapeake Bay Commission to Meet January 5-6, 2017, in Annapolis, Md.

The Chesapeake Bay Commission will meet January 5-6, 2017, at Loews Annapolis Hotel, 126 West Street in Annapolis, Md.  The agenda is available online (as a PDF) http://lis.virginia.gov/171/oth/Agenda.CBC.0105-0617.pdf.

According to the “Mission” link at Commission’s Web site, http://www.chesbay.us/index.htm, the Commission “is a tri-state legislative commission created in 1980 to advise the members of the General Assemblies of Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania on matters of Bay-wide concern.  The commission serves as the legislative arm of the multi-jurisdictional Chesapeake Bay Program (http://www.chesapeakebay.net/), and acts in an advisory capacity to [the states’] General Assemblies.”  The commission has 21 members, including 15 from the legislatures of the three states, the three state natural-resource cabinet secretaries, and three citizen representatives.

530-pm-sunset-light-one-used-grouper-12-21-16

Ship on Chesapeake Bay, viewed from Kent Island, Md., looking toward Annapolis, February 25, 2011.

 

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 http://studies.virginiageneralassembly.gov/meetings/409, 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 http://jlarc.virginia.gov/landing-water.asp.  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 http://dls.virginia.gov/commissions/swc.htm, 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

$50-million Proposed Settlement Announced Dec. 15, 2016, for Decades-old Mercury Contamination of South River from DuPont Facility in Waynesboro

On December 15, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the Commonwealth of Virginia jointly announced a $50-million proposed consent decree, or settlement, with DuPont over the company’s release of mercury into the South River in the 1930s and 1940s from a chemical factory in Waynesboro.  The amount of the proposed settlement is the largest ever in Virginia for natural resources impacts.  The South River is a tributary of the South Fork Shenandoah River, in the Shenandoah/Potomac/Chesapeake Bay watershed.  The proposed settlement was submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, will undergo a 45-day public comment period following notification in the Federal Register, and is subject to final approval by the court.  The settlement is available online at https://www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decree/us-et-al-v-ei-du-pont-de-nemours-and-company.

south-river-foreground-joining-north-river-at-port-republic-dec16-09-2-used-grouper-12-16-16

South River (foreground) confluence with North River at Port Republic, Va. (Rockingham County), to form the South Fork Shenandoah River, Dec. 16, 2009.  This confluence is about 25 river miles downstream (north) of Waynesboro.

Following is an excerpt from the news release of the settlement,  Public and Environment to Benefit from $50 Million Proposed Settlement for Natural Resources Harmed by Virginia Dupont Facility; Officials Announce Largest Natural Resource Damage Settlement in Virginia’s History, U.S. Department of Justice, 12/15/16:

“The Departments of Justice and the Interior joined with the Commonwealth of Virginia today to announce a proposed settlement with DuPont valued at approximately $50 million to resolve claims stemming from the release of mercury from the former E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont) facility in Waynesboro, Virginia.  Over 100 miles of river and associated floodplain have been contaminated by mercury in the South River and South Fork Shenandoah River watershed.

“In addition to a cash payment of just over $42 million, DuPont will fund the design and implementation of significant renovations at the Front Royal Fish Hatchery, estimated to cost up to $10 million. ….

“DuPont will provide the funds to government natural resource trustees, who will oversee the implementation of projects compensating the public for the natural resource injuries and associated losses in ecological and recreational services, such as fishing access.

“The trustees, through U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Commonwealth of Virginia, invite feedback on actions to restore the river and wildlife habitat and improve public lands and recreational resources.  A draft restoration plan and environmental assessment (RP/EA) was also released today for a 45-day public comment period.  The plan results from stakeholder meetings beginning in 2008 to determine how best to compensate the public for the injured natural resources and their uses. …

“Since 2005, DuPont and the trustees have worked cooperatively to assess and identify potential restoration projects to benefit natural resources affected by mercury releases from the DuPont facility.  Over 100 miles of river and thousands of acres of floodplain and riparian habitat were impacted from the mercury.  Some of the assessed and impacted natural resources include fish, migratory songbirds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals.  Recreational fishing opportunities were also impacted from the mercury. …

“Mercury released into the South River from the DuPont facility in the 1930s and 1940s continues to persist in the environment. Monitoring data collected over the last 20 years indicates that mercury levels remain stable, with no clear decreases over time.  Federal law seeks to make the environment and public whole for injuries to natural resources and ecological and recreational services resulting from a release of hazardous substances to the environment.

“The trustees evaluated a range of restoration alternatives and have ultimately proposed a preferred restoration alternative that includes projects that best meet the requirement that restoration efforts specifically focus on the injured resources.  Proposed projects include [the following]:

*land protection, property acquisition, improvements to recreational opportunities and wildlife habitat restoration;
*improvements to water quality and fish habitat through activities such as streamside plantings and erosion control, as well as stormwater pond improvements;
*mussel propagation and restoration to improve water quality, stabilize sediment and enhance stream bottom structure;
*Front Royal Fish Hatchery (in Warren County, Va.) renovations to improve production of warm-water fish such as smallmouth bass;
*recreational fishing access creation or improvement;
*migratory songbird habitat restoration and protection.

“The draft RP/EA outlines these proposed projects, as well as other restoration alternatives and an evaluation of injuries to the natural resources. It is available online, along with other information on the process, at www.fws.gov/northeast/virginiafield/news/news.html.

“The trustees will host a public meeting to summarize key components of the draft restoration plan and answer questions.  The public meeting will be held on Jan. 10, 2017, at the Waynesboro Public Library lower level meeting room from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM.  The library is located at 600 S. Wayne Avenue, Waynesboro, Virginia, 22980.  Following the comment period, the trustees will review and consider comments and prepare the final RP/EA.  Ultimately, the trustees will work with project partners such as local, state, and federal agencies; nonprofit organizations; and landowners to implement the projects.”

Additional sources:
DuPont agrees to pay $50M in record-setting settlement for river contamination near Waynesboro, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 12/15/16.
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “South River,” online at https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/waterbody/south-river/.

Additional news accounts of the settlement (most recent listed first):

Waynesboro ‘stunned’ by South River restoration plan, Staunton News Leader, 1/31/17.  [Excerpt: “Waynesboro city officials were critical of the draft restoration plan for the South River proposed by the trustees of the DuPont settlement funds in the formal comments the city submitted late Monday afternoon, requesting the trustees alter the plan to work directly with the city on a project.”]

People in Waynesboro Learn About Environmental Draft Restoration Plan, WVIR TV-Charlottesville, 1/10/17.

Community gets first look at Dupont draft restoration plans, WHSV TV-Harrisonburg, 1/10/17.

Public comment curbed at DuPont meeting, Waynesboro News Virginian, 1/10/17.

W&M aided in $50M DuPont draft settlement over mercury contamination, Daily Press, 12/20/16.  [Excerpt: “Years of research by a College of William and Mary ornithologist into toxic mercury’s effects on birds is a key component of a historic $50 million proposed environmental settlement announced last week between state and federal officials and the chemical giant DuPont.”]

Waynesboro Taking Next Steps in DuPont Settlement, WVIR TV-Charlottesville, 12/20/16.

DuPont agrees to pay $50 million to restore contaminated Virginia rivers, Bay Journal, 12/15/16.

DuPont agrees to $50 million settlement for South River mercury contamination, Waynesboro News Virginian, 12/15/16.

DuPont agrees to $50 million deal to clean up mercury pollution from Va. plant, Washington Post, 12/15/16.

Request for Wetland Mitigation Proposals in Roanoke River Basin in Virginia – Deadline to Submit Proposals is March 10, 2017

Through March 10, 2017, The Nature Conservancy is soliciting proposals for wetlands mitigation in the Roanoke River basin in Virginia.  Information about the solicitation is available online at http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/virginia/explore/vartf-roanoke-wetland-mitigation.xml.

According to the announcement at that site, “The purpose of the project is to provide wetland mitigation to offset unavoidable impacts for which the Virginia Aquatic Resources Trust Fund was utilized as the compensatory mitigation.  The Conservancy is seeking projects that will deliver 10 or more non-tidal wetland credits and can service multiple HUCs [hydrologic units] in the Roanoke River basin.  The primary objectives are to restore, enhance, and/or preserve wetland systems to address the credit needs in the Roanoke River Basin.  In general, wetland mitigation [comprises] activities that create, restore, enhance, or preserve wetland resources.  Such activities improve wetland functions and may result in gain of wetland acreage in the case of creation and restoration.”

More information about the Virginia Aquatic Trust Fund is available from The Nature Conservancy online at http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/virginia/explore/the-virginia-aquatic-resources-trust-fund-home.xml.

More information about mitigation generally in Virginia is available from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WetlandsStreams/Mitigation.aspx.