Category Archives: Water Quality and Habitat in Virginia’s Southern Rivers

Items related to aquatic life and conditions in Virginia’s “southern rivers”: Big Sandy, Chowan, Clinch/Holston/Powell, New, and Roanoke.

Dan River Basin Interactive Map Under Development in 2018

As of early 2018, the Dan River Basin Association (DRBA) was continuing work on an online, interactive map of the basin.  The map is available at http://www.danriver.org/interactive-map.  Ultimately it is envisioned to show river access points, trails, parks, cultural/historical attractions, visitor centers, and river clean-up locations.  For more information, visit DRBA’s main Web site at http://www.danriver.org/; or phone (315) 209-5055 for the Danville, Va., office or (336) 627-6261 for the Eden, N.C., office.

Several Virginia Trout Stream Restoration Projects by Trout Unlimited Described in Jan. 2, 2018, Roanoke Times Column

“Trout Unlimited working to provide fishing opportunities in Virginia,” by Bill Cochran, Roanoke Times, 1/2/18, describes several stream-restoration projects being undertaken in Virginia by the conservation organization Trout Unlimited.

The Web site for the Virginia Council of Trout Unlimited is http://virginiatu.org.

Water-quality Certification for Proposed Mountain Valley Natural Gas Pipeline Approved by Virginia State Water Control Board on Dec. 7, 2017; Lawsuit Filed Dec. 8

Please note: this post concerns developments on Section 401 Water Quality Certification for the proposed Mountain Valley pipeline since the Virginia State Water Control Board’s public hearing and decisions in December 2017.  For information on the December 2017 401 certification process for the proposed Atlantic Coast pipeline, please see this Water Central News Grouper post.  For information on the 401 certification process prior to December 2017, please see this Water Central News Grouper post.  For more information on natural gas developments more generally in Virginia since 2015, please see this News Grouper post.

On December 7, 2017, Virginia’s State Water Control Board (SWCB) voted 5-2 to approve water-quality certification (under Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act) for the proposed Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline, which would run about 300 miles from West Virginia to a connection at Chatham, in Pittsylvania County, Va., with the existing Transcontinental, or Transco, pipeline, which runs from Texas to New York.

On December 8, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, Appalachian Voices, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the Sierra Club, and Wild Virginia filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit (in Richmond), seeking a review of the actions by the SWCB and alleging that the SWCB acted without adequate information on potential water-quality impacts of the proposed project.

Following are news media items on the certification hearings, vote, lawsuit, and related developments.
State water board sued over decision to allow Mountain Valley Pipeline, Roanoke Times, 12/8/17.
Environmental groups file suit in federal court against gas pipeline, Washington Post, 12/8/17.
Water control board issues certification for Mountain Valley Pipeline, Roanoke Times, 12/7/17.
Meeting in Henrico erupts after Virginia state board issues approval of Mountain Valley Pipeline, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 12/7/17.
Virginia water board approves Mountain Valley Pipeline, angering opponents, Washington Post, 12/7/17.
Virginia water board certifies proposed natural gas pipeline, WSLS TV-Roanoke, 12/7/17.
State Water Control Board approves Mountain Valley Pipeline, WDBJ TV-Roanoke, 12/7/17.

A PDF of the certification document prepared by the Va. DEQ is available online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Portals/0/DEQ/Water/Pipelines/MVPfinaldraft401cert.pdf.  That document includes 14 areas of special conditions, which are listed below.

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality Conditions for 401 Water Quality Certification for Proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline

1. The Owner shall follow the measures detailed in its June 1, 2017, and June 22, 2017, responses to the Department’s May 19, 2017 and June 15, 2017 Requests for Information. These measures are expressly incorporated herein and shall be enforceable conditions of this Certification.
2.  Riparian Buffer Requirements
a) Removal of riparian buffers not directly associated with the Project construction activities is prohibited. Disturbance and removal of riparian buffers from Project-related upland land disturbing activities that would occur within 50 feet of any perennial, intermittent, or ephemeral surface waters shall be avoided where possible, and minimized to the maximum extent practicable if 50 feet is not possible.  Removal of riparian buffers not associated with crossings shall not be allowed where stream bank stability under normal flow conditions would be compromised.
b) The construction limit of disturbance (LOD) in upland areas approaching waterbody and wetland crossings shall be reduced from 125 feet to 75 feet and extended 50 feet from each side of the stream or wetland crossing as an additional upland buffer.  For any upland area approaching a waterbody or wetland crossing where this reduced LOD is not possible, a written justification shall be provided to the Department for review and approval prior to initiating land disturbing activity in that area.
c) A 100 foot riparian buffer shall be maintained between any perennial, intermittent, or ephemeral surface waters and all fueling, maintenance, parking and hazardous material storage activities.  These measures are expressly incorporated herein and shall be enforceable conditions of this Certification.
3. Karst Terrain Requirements
a) The Karst Hazard Assessment (February 2017) shall be revised and submitted to the Department upon completion of field survey activities and final pipeline alignments. The revised Karst Hazard Assessment shall be submitted to the Department for review and approval prior to initiation of land disturbing activities in those areas.
b) The Owner shall follow the measures as detailed in the Karst Mitigation Plan (March 2017). These measures are expressly incorporated herein and shall be enforceable conditions of this Certification.
c) To further evaluate flow paths for karst features in the vicinity of the project, the Owner shall develop a Karst Dye Tracing Plan to be submitted and approved by the Department. The Karst Dye Tracing Plan shall evaluate dye trace studies to determine hydrological connections and relationships associated with karst features.  The Karst Dye Tracing Plan shall at a minimum, evaluate the features identified in Attachment B of the Department’s June 15, 2017 request letter. These include any such features in the construction right-of-way and all other disturbed areas, including access roads and staging areas, as identified by the Karst Hazard Assessment. Any dye trace studies proposed in the approved Karst Dye Tracing Plan shall be completed prior to initiation of land disturbing activities in karst terrain. The Plan is expressly incorporated herein and shall be an enforceable condition of this Certification.

4. Surface Water Withdrawals
a) Any surface water withdrawals for the purposes of hydrostatic testing shall not violate applicable Water Quality Standards and shall be managed so that no more than 10% of the instantaneous flow rate from the channel is removed; the intake screens shall be designed so that screen openings are not larger than 1 millimeter and the screen face intake velocities are not greater than 0.25 feet per second.
b) Any surface water withdrawals for the purposes of horizontal directional drilling or dust control shall not violate applicable Water Quality Standards and shall be managed so that no more than 10% of the instantaneous flow rate from the channel is removed, the intake screens shall be designed so that screen openings are not larger than 1 millimeter and the screen face intake velocities are not greater than 0.25 feet per second.
c) Daily withdrawals from horizontal directional drilling or dust control activities shall not exceed 10,000 gallons per day from non-tidal waters and 2 million gallons from tidal waters per day. Any daily withdrawals greater than noted above shall comply with the requirements of the Virginia Water Protection Permit Program Regulation.  The Owner shall record and track the daily volumes of water withdrawn for horizontal directional drilling or dust control activities and make such records available during inspection or upon request by the Department.

d) Hydrostatic test water shall be released to upland areas through an energy dissipating dewatering device. The energy dissipating dewatering devices will be sized to accommodate the rate and volume of release and be monitored and regulated to prevent erosion and over pumping of the energy dissipating dewatering devices. There shall be no point source discharge of hydrostatic test water to surface waters. The upland discharge of hydrostatic test waters shall be monitored in accordance with the General Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (VPDES) Permit Regulation for Discharges from Petroleum Contaminated Sites, Groundwater Remediation and Hydrostatic Tests (9 VAC 25-120-10, et seq.). The Owner shall record and track the daily volumes of water withdrawn for hydrostatic testing activities and make such records available during inspection or upon request by the Department.  These measures are expressly incorporated herein and shall be enforceable conditions of this Certification.
5. The Owner shall implement water quality monitoring in accordance with the Upland Construction Water Quality Monitoring Plan (May 31, 2017, revised June 19, 2017). The Plan is expressly incorporated herein and shall be an enforceable condition of this Certification.
6. The Owner shall follow the measures intended to minimize the potential for impacts as detailed in the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan (submitted with the June 1, 2017 response to the Department and additional information submitted June 22, 2017). The Plan is expressly incorporated herein and shall be an enforceable condition of this Certification.
7. All construction and installation associated with the Project, except as permitted by the Corps, shall be accomplished in such a manner that construction material or waste material shall not be placed into any perennial, intermittent, or ephemeral surface waters or karst features. These measures are expressly incorporated herein and shall be enforceable conditions of this Certification.
8. The Owner shall follow the measures intended to minimize the potential for impacts as detailed in the General Blasting Plan (February 2017) and the Landslide Mitigation Plan Revision 4 (February 2017). These measures are expressly incorporated herein and shall be enforceable conditions of this Certification. The Owner shall notify the Department immediately, but no later than 24 hours after discovery, if blasting or landslide activity impacts any perennial, intermittent, or ephemeral surface waters or karst features.

9. The Owner shall follow the measures intended to minimize the potential for impacts as detailed in the Acid Forming Materials Mitigation Plan (May 2017). These measures are expressly incorporated herein and shall be an enforceable condition of this Certification.
10. The Project, including all relevant records, is subject to inspection at reasonable hours and intervals by the Department or any authorized representative of the Department to determine compliance with this Certification.
11. The Department shall be provided written or electronic notification at least 30 calendar days prior to any planned Construction Spread pre-construction conferences and Worker Environmental Awareness Program (WEAP) training.
12. The Owner shall immediately notify the Department of any modification of this Project and shall demonstrate in a written statement that said modifications will not violate any conditions listed in this Certification. If such demonstration cannot be made, the Owner shall apply for a modification of this Certification. These measures are expressly incorporated herein and shall be an enforceable condition of this Certification.
13. This Certification is subject to revocation for failure to comply with the above conditions and after proper hearing. Any direct or indirect discharge to State waters shall be subject to enforcement review under the State Water Control Law.
14. The terms and conditions of this Certificate shall remain in effect until 180 days after all land disturbing activity associated with the construction, operation, maintenance, and repair of the pipeline, and related access roads and rights-of-way have achieved final stabilization as required by the Erosion and Sediment Control Law (Va. Code § 62.1-44.15:51, et seq.)

Va. DEQ Funding for TMDL Implementation in 2018-19 – Application Deadline February 9, 2018; Training Webinar on December 12, 2017

On November 17, 2017, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced its request for applications (RFA) for federal Section 319 grants to address nonpoint source pollution as part of Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) implementation plans or watershed plans.

Section 319 refers to the section of the federal Clean Water Act that requires states to assess state waters and identify those affected by non-point source pollution.  (For more information on Section 319, see http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterQualityInformationTMDLs/NonpointSourcePollutionManagement.aspx.)

According to the DEQ’s RFA, “[t]he purpose of the 2018-2019 Virginia Section 319(h) Request for Applications (RFA) is to establish a priority list of implementation projects.  Projects on this list will be developed into sub-award agreements as funding becomes available.”

Applications for the 2018-19 funding are due February 9, 2018.  The complete RFA package can be downloaded from the DEQ NPS Grant Funding web page at: http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/CleanWaterFinancingAssistance/NonpointSourceFunding.aspx.

An application Webinar will be held Dec. 12, 2017, from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.  Registration for the Webinar is available at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3025152698953308419.

Spills Affecting Water in Virginia – Cumulative List of Incidents Starting February 2014; Latest: January 15, 2018, Train Derailment in Giles County Spilling Only a Few Gallons of Soybean Oil

In this post, the Virginia Water Central News Grouper posts brief accounts and links to news articles about spills affecting surface water or groundwater in Virginia.  Items are listed from most recent (at top) to oldest (at bottom).  All hyperlinks to news accounts were functional at the time posted  here, but there is no guarantee that the links still work whenever you’re reading this.

This list of incidents dates back to March 2015.  The number of incidents/situations listed as of February 23, 2017, is 41.

Frequently used abbreviations:
DEQ = Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

January 15, 2018, in Giles County – Spill of a few gallons of soybean oil following derailment of four train cars near Eggleston in Giles County.  Source: Giles County train derailment: Four cars involved, small amount of soybean oil spilled, spokeswoman says, Roanoke Times, 1/15/18.

January 12, 2018, in Campbell County – Spill of heating oil into a pond from a residential tank south of Lynchburg in Campbell County.  Crews respond to oil spill in Campbell County pond, WDBJ TV-Roanoke, 1/12/18.

November 30, 2017, in City of Virginia Beach – Spill from a broken pipe of an estimatd 60,000 gallons of sewage into the harbor at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story in Virginia Beach.  Little Creek is a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay.  Source: 60,000 gallons of sewage spill at Little Creek base, Navy says, Virginian-Pilot, 11/30/17.

November 30, 2017, in City of Virginia Beach – Spill from a broken pipe of an estimated 60,000 gallons of sewage into the harbor at the Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-fort Story in Virginia Beach.  Little Creek is a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay.  Source: 60,000 gallons of sewage spill at Little Creek base, Navy says, Virginian-Pilot, 11/30/17.

November 18, 2017, in Wise County – Spill of an estimated 400 tons of coal into Pigeon Creek (a Powell River/Clinch River/Tennessee River tributary), following a derailment of 38 Norfolk Southern rail cars.  As of 4:15 p.m. on November 20, Norfolk-Southern stated that four cars had been removed from the stream and six cars removed from the stream bank; that the company was working with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality on the incident; that absorbent booms, silt-fencing, and hay bales had been installed around the spilled coal; and that the company planned to use excavators and vacuum trucks to remove the spilled coal from the stream and streambank.  Sources: Norfolk Southern continues to clean up derailment scene, Bristol Herald Courier, 11/21/17.  38 Norfolk Southern Railroad cars derailed in Wise County, Bristol Herald Courier, 11/20/17.  Coal train derailment cleanup continues, Coalfield Progress, 11/20/17.  Coal spill cleanup underway, WCYB TV-Bristol, 11/20/17.

October 30, 2017, in Dinwiddie County – Spill of about 4000 gallons of a plasticizer chemical following a tractor-trailer overturning on U.S. Route 460 in Dinwiddie County.  Some of the material spread to drainage ditches lining the highway.  As of October 30, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) was investigating the incident.  Source:  Tractor-trailer spill closes 460 West in Dinwiddie, Petersburg Progress-Index, 10/30/17.

October 2017/October 18, 2016, in City of Covington – CSX locomotive derailment resulting in spill of about 1700 gallons of diesel fuel into the Jackson River (about 425 gallons were recovered).  In October 2017, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and CSX reached a proposed consent agreement including a $2125 fine and a requirement of monthly monitoring until no evidence of the fuel remains in the river.  Regulators cite CSX for fuel spill from train derailment in Covington, Roanoke Times, 11/1/17.

September 2017 in City of Alexandria – Spill of over 5000 gallons of gasoline after a pump failure at a Liberty gas station on King Street in Alexandria.  As of mid-October 2017, 400 gallons of the gasoline had been recovered; it was believed that none of the spills gasoline had reached surface waters, and the concern at the time was that the gasoline would contaminate nearby apartment buildings.  Source: Cleanup of Alexandria gasoline spill may take years, WRC TV-Washington, 10/17/17 (2 min./50 sec. video).

September 2017 in Roanoke County – Proposed consent agreement on September 12, 2017, between the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and Nichols Transport, Inc., regarding a June 2014 tanker-truck spill of about 4500 gallons formaldehyde (to be used in embalming fluid) on Jae Valley Road near Windy Gap in Roanoke County.  The spill required some home and business evacuations and is identified as having contaminated one residential well, according to the proposed consent order (available online as a PDF at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Portals/0/DEQ/Enforcement/SignedConsentPN/NicholsTransport2017.pdf?ver=2017-09-15-072239-160).  The proposed order will undergo a public-comment period from 9/18/17 to 10/17/17.  DEQ current consent orders (those undergoing public comment periods) are available online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Enforcement/PublicNotices.aspxSource: Trucking company agrees to cleanup plan for formaldehyde spill in Roanoke County, Roanoke Times, 9/19/17.

August 2017 in City of Roanoke – $19,425 fine announced for Conny Oil Inc., part of a July 12, 2017, consent agreement between the company and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), for an underground leak gasoline leak (which reached the storm sewer system and caused home evacuations) discovered on October 8, 2017, at the Grandin Road BP in the City of Roanoke.  Sources:  Fuel company cited for October gas leak in southwest Roanoke, Roanoke Times, 8/7/17; Virginia DEQ, “Public Notices,” online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Enforcement/PublicNotices.aspx.

July 29, 2017, in Botetourt County – Spill of about 165 gallons of Termix 5301—a type of surfactant added to herbicides and other pesticides before application, according to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)—into a tributary of Tinker Creek, in the Roanoke River watershed, on the Crop Production Services facility at Cloverdale in Botetourt County (just north of the Roanoke County line and the City of Roanoke), affecting approximately 8 miles Tinker Creek and resulting in a fish kill estimated at over 40,000, according to the DEQ.  The DEQ’s July 31 news release asserted the following about long-term impacts: “Where the material was present in the water, the stream exhibited a cloudy appearance and moderate to heavy white foam.  DEQ checked the stream at more than a dozen locations, from near the mouth at the Roanoke River, to above the confluence with the impacted tributary at Route 11 in Cloverdale.  At almost all locations, the appearance of the stream had returned to normal for this time of year.  Once the material is diluted and flushed downstream, no long-term impacts to the stream are anticipated.  It ultimately may take several years to return to normal, but the stream will recover and aquatic life will repopulate the affected areas.”  DEQ spokesperson Bill Hayden was quoted on August 2, 2017, by The Roanoke Times as saying that the fish kill “may be one of the biggest…in Virginia history,” and that recovery of the stream’s bottom dwelling aquatic organisms could take years.  A recreation advisory on Tinker Creek was lifted on August 11.  On October 4, 2017, the DEQ issued a notice of violation to Crop Production Services.  On January 30, 2018, the DEQ published an update on the spill, stating (in part) the following:  “All on-site removal actions have been completed, including the removal of contaminated soils impacted by the release. The on-site stormwater ditch and stormwater pond have been relined and returned to service.  DEQ issued a Notice of Violation on October 4, 2017, for an unpermitted discharge of pollutants to surface water.  DEQ is resolving the alleged violation through its enforcement procedures and in coordination with partner agencies.  Future monitoring plans are being developed.  DEQ is coordinating with US Fish and Wildlife Service on monitoring plans to track the stream’s long term recovery.”  Sources: Tinker Creek fish kill, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality update, 1/30/18DEQ issues violation notice to company after Tinker Creek chemical spill, WSLS TV-Roanoke, 10/17/17; State issues violation notice in Tinker Creek chemical spill and fish kill, Roanoke Times, 10/16/17.  DEQ sends notice of violation over Tinker Creek chemical spill, WDBJ TV-Roanoke, 10/10/17.  Chemical spill in Tinker Creek revealed a gap in regulation, Roanoke Times, 8/17/17.  Tinker Creek recreation advisory lifted nearly 2 weeks after chemical spill, Roanoke Times, 8/11/17.  DEQ: Tinker Creek safe to swim in, no herbicide detected in recent tests, WSET Lynchburg, 8/11/17.  Update on status of Tinker Creek, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality News Release, 8/4/17.  Fish kill extended 8 miles downstream of Cloverdale chemical spill, state says, Roanoke Times, 8/4/17.  Deputies say vandals may have caused Tinker Creek chemical spill, WSLS TV-Roanoke, 8/2/17.  Recovery on Tinker Creek could take years after chemical spill caused massive fish kill, Roanoke Times, 8/2/17.  Tinker Creek fish kill: questions and answers, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, 7/31/17. Chemical spill on Tinker Creek caused by puncture to storage tank, DEQ officials say, Roanoke Times, 7/31/17.  Crews continue assessing damage from chemical spill into Tinker Creek, WSLS TV-Roanoke, 7/31/17.  Officials say police are investigating Tinker Creek chemical spill as a crime, WXFR TV-Roanoke, 7/31/17.  Sudsy water, fish kills in Tinker Creek after confirmed chemical spill, WSLS TV-Roanoke, 7/31/17.  Herbicide spill in Tinker Creek stretches 8 to 10 miles, public still warned to stay out of creek, Roanoke Times, 7/30/17.  Chemical spill impact on well water and enviornment, WDBJ TV-Roanoke, 7/30/17.
Here is the text of an August 4, 2017, news release from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality on the Tinker Creek spill:
“RICHMOND, VA. — The Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality have updated the information available on the status of Tinker Creek in Botetourt County following a fish kill on July 29.
— The agencies are continuing their recommendation that people stay away from Tinker Creek, from just west of Route 11/Lee Highway, across from Southern States Cooperative in Cloverdale, downstream to the mouth of Tinker Creek at the Roanoke River.
— Water test results have been analyzed and show a very low amount of the chemical Termix 5301 in the creek. This amount of the chemical is not considered harmful.
— Additional water samples will be collected Monday, August 7, and results are expected later in the week. A decision will be made then as to whether the advisory on Tinker Creek should remain.
— DEQ has completed its count of fish that died as a result of the spill. The total is 40,198, which includes sunfish, rock bass, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, darters, multiple species of minnow, margined madtoms, bullhead catfish and suckers. Though there have been a few larger fish kills in Virginia, this is considered a significant incident.
— The company responsible for the spill, Crop Production Services, has continued to cooperate fully with DEQ and has taken numerous actions to address the fish kill.”

June 2017 in Franklin County –  Announcement of a $4550 fine by the Virginia DEQ on Burnt Chimney Dairy LLC for a March 2016 spill of 13,500 gallons of manure onto the ground in Franklin County, some of which reached an unnamed tributary to Gills Creek, which in turn is a Roanoke River tributary.  Source:  Franklin County dairy farm cited for manure spill, Roanoke Times, 6/29/17.

May 10-11, 2017, in Virginia Beach – Spill of 94,000 gallons of jet fuel at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach.  For more on this incident, please see this Water Central News Grouper post of May 17, 2017.

May 8, 2017, in Harrisonburg – Derailment of five rail cars carrying corn, some of which reached Blacks Run, in the Shenandoah River watershed.  Source:  Long cleanup ahead after train derails in downtown Harrisonburg, WHSV TV-Harrisonburg, Va., 5/8/17.

Late April 2017 in Weber City (Scott County) – Sewage spill from a pipe damaged by a collapsed crane at a bridge-construction site.  Source: UPDATE: No contact advisory on Holston River lifted following sewage spill, WCYB TV-Bristol, 5/15/17.

April 11, 2017, in Roanoke County – Spill of about 400 gallons of asphalt from a tanker truck on North Barrens Road in Roanoke County.  Source: No environmental damage from asphalt spill in Roanoke County, DEQ says, Roanoke Times, 4/12/17.

March 2017/September 2015 in Franklin County – March 2017 announcement of a consent order and $3250 fine by the Department of Environmental Quality for a September 2015 manure spill into Maggodee Creek (Roanoke River basin) in Franklin County.  Source: Franklin County dairy farm cited for manure spill, Roanoke Times, 3/30/17.

February 20, 2017, in Gloucester County – Diesel fuel spill from a sunken boat into the Perrin River (a Chesapeake Bay tributary in Gloucester County).  Source: About $50,000 spent to clean up Perrin River fuel spill, Gloucester-Mathews Gazette-Journal, 3/15/17.

January 2017 in City of Fredericksburg – January 2017 consent agreement regarding October 2015, December 2015, and February 2016 wastewater spills by City of Fredericksburg.  Source: City to Pay State Fine for Sewage Spills, Fredericksburg Today, 1/25/17.

November 2016 in Washington, D.C., metropolitan area – Appearance of oily sheen on Potomac River in D.C. metropolitan region.  Sources: D.C. area water utilities keep an eye on oily sheen on Potomac River, Washington Post, 11/30/16; EPA says oil plume on Potomac River came from power plant in Maryland, Washington Post, 12/6/16.

October 24, 2016, in Fluvanna County – Discovery by Rivanna Conservation Alliance volunteer monitors of sewage-pipe leak into Lake Monticello in Fluvanna County.  Aqua Virginia, a private company providing water and sewer service to the area, fixed the leak the same day.  Sources: Sewage pipe could have been leaking into Lake Monticello for months, group says, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 10/27/16.  Questions remain on full impact of Lake Monticello sewage spill, Charlottesville Daily Progress, 10/28/16.  Water officials seek more info on Lake Monticello sewer leak, Charlottesville Daily Progress, 10/31/16.  Lake water ‘safe’ after sewage leak, Fluvanna Review, 10/31/16.

October 3, 2016, in Stafford County – Discovery of a sewage-line break that was causing a spill of wastewater into Claiborne Run, a Rappahannock River tributary near the historic Port of Falmouth Park in Stafford County.  Source: Another sewage spill closes Historic Port of Falmouth in Stafford, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 10/5/16.

August 23, 2016, in City of Richmond – Spill of about 7000 gallons of fuel oil and gasoline from a tanker truck that overturned on I-95 near the James River at Richmond; about 4000 gallons apparently reached the James via stormwater drains.  Sources: Fuel spill affects James River at Richmond Deep Water Terminal, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality News Release, 8/24/16; DEQ working to clean 4,000 gallons of fuel spilled in James River in truck crash, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 8/24/16.

July 18-24, 2016, in Russell County
– Two petroleum spills in Russell County during the week of July 18-24, 2016; one of about 50 gallons of diesel fuel; the other of hydraulic oil, greater than 25 gallons but amount not identified in story.  Source: Everyday oil spills dangerous without quick intervention, WCYB-TV Bristol, Va., 7/25/16.

July 6, 2016, in Goochland County – Petroleum-pipeline leak near Tuckahoe Creek.  Sources: Henrico leaders carefully monitoring Goochland petroleum spill, RVANews, 7/8/16.  Petroleum leak reported along Goochland-Henrico line, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 7/7/16.

June 2016/April 2015 in Alleghany County – Consent agreement regarding an April 2015 sewer overflow of between 46,000 and 93,000 gallons per day over four days at the Alleghany County wastewater treatment plant (which discharges into Potts Creek, a Jackson River tributary).  Source: Alleghany County cited for wastewater overflows into creek, Roanoke Times, 6/2/16.

April 2016 in Fairfax County – Update on work to remediate MTBE from early 2000s leak at a service station in Great Falls (clean-up underway since 2014).  Sources: Great Falls: Eyesore Improves, Bank Coming, Great Falls Connection, 4/18/16; and Groundwater Cleanup Continues, Fairfax Connection, 8/25/15.

April 13, 2016, in Stafford County – Wastewater spill from an overturned tractor-trailer.  Source: Stafford road reopens after tractor-trailer overturned, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 4/13/16.

Jan. 22, 2016, in the City of Chesapeake – Spill of an estimated 75,000 gallons of jet fuel from the Kinder Morgan facility.  Sources: 60 ducks and geese covered in jet fuel from Chesapeake tank spill, Virginian-Pilot, 1/25/16; About 75,000 gallons of jet fuel leaked in Chesapeake tank spill, Virginian-Pilot, 1/26/15.

November 2015 in City of Roanoke – Consent agreement, including a $71,450 fine, for a February 15, 2014, spill by Steel Dynamics of about 10,000 gallons of fuel oil into Peters Creek (in the Roanoke River basin).  Source: Roanoke steel manufacturer agrees to pay fine for fuel oil spill, Roanoke Times, 11/30/15.

October 29, 2015, in Arlington County – Aviation-fuel spill at Reagan National Airport.  Source: Fuel spills into Potomac River at area south of Reagan National Airport, Washington Post, 10/30/15.

October 2015 leak in the City of Harrisonburg – Leak of about 7000 gallons of gasoline (first detected in October 2015) from an underground storage tank at a service station on Port Republic Road near Insterstate 81 in Harrisonburg.  Sources:  Harrisonburg Gas Station Leaks 7,000 Gallons of Fuel Into Ground, WHSV Harrisonburg, 11/13/15; Gas station owner fights accusation gas leak handled negligently, WHSV Harrisonburg, 1/29/16.

Sept. 28, 2015, in Goochland County – Spill of human waste from dump truck onto a road.  Source: Neighbors not happy after human waste spills out of dump truck in Goochland, WVTR TV-Richmond, 9/28/15.

September 21, 2015, in the City of Danville – Spill of motor oil at a car dealership.  Sources:  400 gallons of motor oil spilled; some got into the Dan River, Danville Register & Bee, 9/21/15; Oil spill to have ‘minimal impact’ on the Dan River, Danville Register & Bee, 9/23/15.

August 2015 in Fairfax County – Fine and correction plan for six sewage spills (over 600,000 gallons total) in 2013 and 2014 into Holmes Run, Lake Barcroft, and an unnamed tributary to Hunting Creek (all in the Potomac River basin), near Bailey’s Crossroads.  Source: After Massive Lake Barcroft Sewage Spill, Fairfax County Fails To Warn Residents, WAMU FM-Washington, 9/11/15.

August 2015 in Chesterfield County – Case of cleaning company disposing of cleaning chemicals improperly by pouring them onto the ground near schools.  Source: Potentially harmful chemicals dumped outside dozens of Chesterfield County schools, WRIC TV-Richmond, 9/4/15.

August 21, 2015, in Stafford County – Leak of 24,000 gallons of sewage into Falls Run, a Rappahannock River tributary.  The incident was one of nine between August 2014 and August 2015, resulting in spills of about 1.5 million gallons total in the Rappahannock and Potomac River watersheds from the county’s Aquia and Little Falls Run wastewater treatment plants.  Sources: Rappahannock River deemed safe two days after sewage spills into tributary, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 8/27/15.  Stafford wastewater system has leaked 1.5 million gallons of sewage in past year, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 9/3/15.

July-August 2015 in Dinwiddie County – Contamination of Stony Creek, in the Nottoway River/Chowan River watershed, by animal waste from a hog farm in Dinwiddie County; at least some of the pollutant was believed to be slurry material from a (now-closed) ethanol plant in the City of Hopewell.  Sources: The State of Stony Creek: Virginia Departments Continue Investigation into Waterway, Dinwiddie Monitor, 9/15/17.  Dinwiddie Board of Supervisors updates Stony Creek contamination, WTVR TV-Richmond, 9/1/15.  Officials find second site in Dinwiddie that is polluting waters, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 8/7/15.  Stony Creek pollution under investigation, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 7/31/15.

July 27, 2015, in Rockbridge County – Spill of about 5000 gallons of asphalt from a tanker truck into a tributary of Fords Run, in the Maury River/James River watershed.  Source: Cleanup of Rockbridge County asphalt spill likely to take weeks, Roanoke Times, 7/28/15.

March 2015 in the City of Hopewell – Spill into the Appomattox River (in the James River watershed) of about 600 gallons of diesel fuel by the Virginia American Water Company at its drinking water plant.  In August 2015, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality announced a draft consent decree that included a fine of about $23,000.  Sources: Company to pay $23,000 after diesel fuel spill in Appomattox River, WTVR Richmond, 9/14/15; Water company fined for oil spill, Hopewell News, 9/18/15.

April 30, 2014, in City of Lynchburg
– CSX oil-transport train derailment along the James River, resulting in three tanker cars falling partially into the river, explosions followed by fire along the tracks and on the river, evacuations of about six blocks of Lynchburg’s downtown that afternoon, and an estimated 30,000 gallons of oil from one breached tanker car reaching the river (some of that oil caught fire).  For more on this incident, please see this Water Central News Grouper post.

February 2, 2014, along the Dan River in North Carolina – Stormwater pipe collapse under a coal-ash storage basin at the Duke Energy’s Dan River Station in Eden, North Carolina, upstream of the Virginia Dan River section.  The Eden station was a coal-fired power plant that operated between 1949 and 2012.  The break spilled an estimated 39,000 tons of coal ash from the ash-storage basin into the Dan River.  For more on this incident, please see this Water Central News Grouper post.

Triennial Review of Virginia’s Water-quality Standards in Public Comment Period September 19–November 17, 2017; Public Hearing October 24 in Richmond

From September 19 to November 17, 2017, the Virginia State Water Control Board/Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is accepting public comments on the the triennial review of water-quality standards for bacteria, ammonia, cadmium and human health criteria (9 VAC 25-260 in the Virginia Administrative Code.)

A public hearing is scheduled for 10/24/17, 2 p.m., at the DEQ Main Office, 629 East Main Street in Richmond.

According to DEQ information online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterQualityInformationTMDLs/WaterQualityStandards/LawsMandates.aspx and at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/viewaction.cfm?actionid=3171&display=stages, Virginia Code section 62.1-44.15 (3a), part of Virginia’s State Water Control Law, requires the State Water Control Board to review and update the Commonwealth’s water-quality standards at least every three years.  The Board conducted a triennial review in 2015, but the Board deferred to a separate rule-making updates to freshwater aquatic life criteria for ammonia, amendments to the 94 human health criteria, and new EPA recommendations for recreation waters criteria (bacteria) and aquatic life (potentially for cadmium and selenium) (Board action taken at January 14, 2016, meeting).

The proposed amendments on these items were published in the Virginia Register of Regulations on September 18, 2017.  More information on these proposed amendments is available online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewStage.cfm?stageid=5343.

More information on the triennial review overall is available online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewAction.cfm?actionid=4017.

Microplastics in Water Information from Water Research Foundation as of September 2017

Information about microplastics and microfibres in water has been compiled by the the Water Research Foundation and posted online at http://www.waterrf.org/resources/NewsletterStories/Microplastics.html.  According to this site, microplastics are “plastic particles under 5 millimeters (mm).  Some plastic is manufactured as microplastics (e.g., microbeads) and washed down drains, while larger plastic debris degrades into micro-sized particles over time with exposure to sun and water.  Microfibers, a type of microplastics, are derived from synthetic textiles and slough off during daily use and machine washing of clothing….  Most microfibers released in water are between 0.1–0.8 mm in size.”

For questions about the Foundation’s information on microplastics, contact Alice Fulmer at afulmer@waterrf.org or (303) 347-6109 (Denver, Colo.).

Information for this post was provided by the Virginia Water Monitoring Council (VWMC).  More information about the VWMC is available online at http://www.vwmc.vwrrc.vt.edu/; or contact Jane Walker at the janewalk@vt.edu or (540) 231-4159.  Please feel free to forward this information; when forwarding, please acknowledge the VWMC.