Water Week 2017 is March 19-25 in Washington, D.C.

Water Week 2017 is a gathering of people and organizations working in the water utilities sector.  The event will be held March 19-25 in Washington, D.C.  According to the event’s Web site, it is intended to “communicate the value of water to environmental protection, to economic development, and to job creation, and [to] inspire action.”

Organizing groups include the following:
American Water Works Association;
Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies;
National Association of Clean Water Agencies;
US Water Alliance;
Water Environment Foundation;
Water Environment and Reuse Foundation;
Water Research Foundation;
WateReuse;
Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association.

For more information, visit http://www.waterweek.us/.

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).

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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.

Va. DEQ Outreach Meetings Feb. 16 and Feb. 21, 2017, on Chesapeake Bay TMDL Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan

In January and February 2017, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) scheduled public outreach meetings on Phase III of the Commonwealth’s Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) pollution-prevention plan, which was published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in December 2010.  According to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall, the meetings provide information 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.

January meetings were the following (dates are linked to Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notices):

1/30/17, 10 a.m., at the DEQ Northern Regional Office, 13901 Crown Court in Woodbridge, specifically for localities that administer municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s).

1/30/17, 1 p.m., 10 a.m., at the DEQ Northern Regional Office, 13901 Crown Court in Woodbridge, specifically for localities that do not administer MS4s.

February meetings are the following:

2/16/17, 10 a.m., at the DEQ Valley Regional Office, 4411 Early Road in Harrisonburg, specifically for staff of local governments and of soil and water conservation districts.

2/21/17, 1 p.m., at the DEQ Northern Regional Office, 13901 Crown Court in Woodbridge, specifically for elected officials.

More information from the DEQ on the Chesapeake Bay TMDL is available online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/ChesapeakeBay/ChesapeakeBayTMDL.aspx.

More information from the EPA on the Bay TMDL is available online at https://www.epa.gov/chesapeake-bay-tmdl.

Water in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly: Combined Sewer Overflow Bills in Potomac River Watershed and Alexandria

This is one of a series of posts on particular water-related bills in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly.  For an inventory of about 165 water-related bills in the 2017 General Assembly, please visit the Virginia Water Resources Research Center’s “Virginia Water Legislation” page, online at http://www.vwrrc.vt.edu/virginia-water-legislation/.  Each post includes a summary of the bill(s), their legislative status (in committee, passed, failed, etc.), and a list of hyperlinked headlines for news media items on the bill(s).  Information on the bills’ provisions and status is taken from the Virginia Legislative Information System (LIS), online at http://leg1.state.va.us/lis.htm.  Each bill number is hyperlinked to the LIS entry for that bill.

Several bills concerned the problem of combined sewer overflows from the City of Alexandria into the Potomac River watershed.

HB 1423Potomac River watershed combined sewer overflow outfalls: DEQ to identify owner, etc.  This bill, sponsored by Del. David Albo (R-42nd District), of Springfield, failed in the House Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources (ACNR) Committee.  The bill would have directed the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to identify the owner of any combined sewer overflow (CSO) outfall that discharges into the Potomac River Watershed and to determine by July 2018 what actions by the owner are necessary to bring the outfall into compliance by with Virginia law, the federal Clean Water Act, and the Presumption Approach described in the CSO [Combined Sewer Overflow] Control Policy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The CSO owner would have had until July 2027 to bring the CSO outfall into compliance.

HB 2383Chesapeake Bay watershed combined sewer overflow outfalls: DEQ to identify owner, etc.  This bill, sponsored by Del. Scott Lingamfelter (R-31st District) of Woodbridge, passed the House and as of February 14 was in the Senate Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources (ACNR) Committee.  Like HB 1423 above, this bill would also direct the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to identify the owner of any combined sewer overflow (CSO) outfall that discharges into the Potomac River Watershed and to determine by July 2018 what actions by the owner are necessary to bring the outfall into compliance with Virginia law, the federal Clean Water Act, and the Presumption Approach described in the CSO Control Policy of the U.S. EPA.  But as amended by the House, the CSO outfall owner would have until July 2024 to initiate construction activities to bring the outfall into compliance, and this bill would only apply to any CSO outfall owner or operator not under a state order or decree related to the CSO as of January 1, 2017.

SB 818Potomac River watershed combined sewer overflow outfalls: DEQ to identify owner, etc.  This bill, sponsored by Del. Scott Surovell (D-36th District), of Mount Vernon, was incorporated into SB 898 (see below).

SB 819City of Alexandria Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) system permit: requirement to assess overflows by 2029.  This bill, sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30th District), of Alexandria, failed in the Senate ACNR Committee.  The bill would have directed the State Water Control Board to include in the next renewal of the Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for the CSO system of the City of Alexandria requirement that the City complete by January 1, 2029, an assessment of the discharges from CSO Number 001 into the Potomac River, including identifying any improvements meant to address discharges from any part of the City’s CSO system and determining what control technologies would be required to meet applicable regulations.

SB 898Potomac River watershed combined sewer overflow outfalls: DEQ to identify owner, etc.  This bill, sponsored by Sen. Richard Stuart (R-28th District), of Montross, passed the Senate and as of February 14 was in the House ACNR Committee.  The bill would also direct the DEQ to identify the owner of any CSO outfall that discharges into the Potomac River watershed and to determine what actions by the owner are necessary to bring the outfall into compliance with the Presumption Approach described in the CSO Control Policy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).   As introduced, the bill would have required the CSO outfall owner to bring the outfall into compliance by July 2020.  As amended and passed by the Senate, the bill would require such compliance by July 2025.

Related News Media Items on This Legislation
Senate Proposes Alexandria Sewer Overflow Deadline, Comment by Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30th District), as published by Alexandria Connection, 2/1/17.
Senators to Alexandria: Clean Up Your Act by 2020 or Lose State Funding, Alexandria Connection, 1/20/17.
Alexandria mayor balks at state Senate deadline for stopping sewage overflows, Washington Post, 1/19/17.
Alexandria speeds up plans to address sewage overflow into the Potomac, Washington Post, 11/10/16.

Water in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly: Coastal Protection and Flooding Adaptation Cabinet Position

This is one of a series of posts on particular water-related bills in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly.  For an inventory of about 165 water-related bills in the 2017 General Assembly, please visit the Virginia Water Resources Research Center’s “Virginia Water Legislation” page, online at http://www.vwrrc.vt.edu/virginia-water-legislation/.  Each post includes a summary of the bill(s), their legislative status (in committee, passed, failed, etc.), and a list of hyperlinked headlines for news media items on the bill(s).  Information on the bills’ provisions and status is taken from the Virginia Legislative Information System (LIS), online at http://leg1.state.va.us/lis.htm.  Each bill number is hyperlinked to the LIS entry for that bill.

HB 1964 – Coastal Protection and Flooding Adaptation cabinet position created.  This bill, sponsored by Del. Christopher P. Stolle (R-83rd District), of Virginia Beach, was reported from the House General Laws Committee but failed in the House Appropriations Committee.  The will would have created the position of Secretary for Coastal Protection and Flooding Adaptation, who would be responsible for consolidating into a single office the resources for coastal flooding threats and adaptation; lead in providing direction, ensuring accountability, and developing a statewide coastal flooding adaptation strategy; and, in cooperation with the Secretary of Natural Resources, identify sources of funding for needed implementation of strategies for coastal protection and flooding adaptation.

SB 1349 is the companion bill to HB 1964 (introduced with the same provisions).  Sponsored by Sen. Lynwood W. Lewis Jr. (D-6th District), of Accomack, this bill passed the Senate Finance Committee with an amendment stating that the provisions of the bill would not become effective unless the 2017 General Assembly passes an appropriation supporting the purposes of the bill.  The amended bill failed on the Senate floor on January 31.

Related News Media Item on Legislation
Legislation to create Virginia coastal office gaining ground, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1/23/17.

Related News Media Items on Coastal Flooding in Virginia
A flood of data on tide cycles in Hampton Roads worries meteorologists, Virginian-Pilot, 12/3/16.
The 2,000-foot hole in the ground that’s important in the battle against sea level rise, Virginian-Pilot, 12/3/16.
Researchers estimate cost to Hampton Roads of doing nothing about sea level rise, Virginian-Pilot, 11/17/16.
Report says sea-level rise has major economic consequences for Hampton Roads, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11/17/16.

Virginia Precipitation and Stream Flow for the 7-day Period Ending February 13, 2017

Below are images showing precipitation in Virginia and other areas of the southeastern United States, and stream flow in Virginia, over the seven-day period ending February 13, 2017 (information available as of February 14).  The Virginia Water Resources Research Center thanks the agencies mentioned below for providing precipitation and stream-flow information and images. For the current month’s other weekly reports on stream flow and precipitation, please see the News Grouper posts available at this link: https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=Virginia+Precipitation.

For monthly reviews of precipitation, stream flow, and drought, please see the posts available at this link: https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=Monthly+Water+Status.

For more information on current and historical surface-water and groundwater conditions in Virginia, please see the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Virginia Science Center’s Web site, http://va.water.usgs.gov/.

gage-feb2017-scottsville-old-one-feb11-09

February 2017 Gaging Station of the Month:  Old (replaced) station on the James River at Scottsville (Albemarle County), February 11, 2009.

Precipitation

The following two color-coded maps show southeastern U.S. precipitation amounts (top map) and the percent of normal precipitation compared to normal for this period of the year (bottom map) over the seven-day period ending February 13, 2017.  The maps were accessed from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Southeast Regional Climate Center, located at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill; online at http://www.sercc.com/climateinfo/precip_maps.  As of that date, these data were provisional (needing to be verified for accuracy and subject to possible revision).

precip-feb13precip-perc-feb13

Another source of precipitation data is the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, online at http://water.weather.gov/precip/.  The site provides maps showing precipitation nationwide or by state for specific days, months, or years.  The site also has the capability to show county boundaries, and other map layers available include river flood forecasts and current flood/severe weather warnings.  Shown below is the continental U.S. 7-day precipitation map as of 7 a.m. EST on 2/14/17.  Please note that UTC, the time shown on the maps at the site, is five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time and four hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time.

precip-us-feb14

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).