Va. Supreme Court on July 13, 2017, Upholds State Law on Surveying for Natural Gas Pipeline Routes Without Landowner Permission

On July 14, 2017, the Virginia Supreme Court unanimously upheld the Commonwealth’s law that allows surveying for potential natural gas pipelines without landowner permission, so long as specified notification procedures are followed.  The ruling was in a case brought by Hazel Palmer, a landowner in Augusta County, whose property is on the path of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  Ms. Palmer was appealing a ruling by the Augusta County Circuit Court, which also upheld the state law.  The Va. Supreme Court court also ruled that surveying companies must be more specific in their notification to landowners of the date for survey activities than is provided by the wording of “on or after” a certain date.  The case is Hazel F. Palmer v. Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC; the ruling is available online (as a PDF) at

As of July 2017, another lawsuit on the state’s gas pipeline surveying law–asserting that gas pipeline surveying activity without landowner permission is an unconstitutional “taking” of personal property–is on appeal at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (in Richmond).

Pipelines: Va. Supreme Court upholds gas survey law on entering private property, but requires specific notice to landowners, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 7/13/17.
Virginia Supreme Court ruling upholds pipeline surveying law; challenges still possible, Roanoke Times, 7/13/17.
Supreme Court of Virginia hands pipeline foes small victory, but project rolls on, Washington Post, 7/13/17.

For more details on developments about natural gas in Virginia, please see this Water Central News Grouper post.

An Overview of Antarctic Ice Developments, in PBS NewsHour Videos in July 2017 and March 2017

Loss of giant ice sections from Antarctica—the most recent a Delaware-sized piece that broke off in July 2017—is the subject of the following two PBS NewsHour videos.

One of the biggest icebergs ever just broke off Antarctica. Here’s what scientists want to know,” broadcast on July 12, 2017 (8 minutes/26 seconds) describes this July 2017 break-off of the Delaware-sized iceberg and gives background on Antarctica’s ice geography, other notable ice rifts, and scientists’ efforts to assess the connection of these developments to climate changes and their potential for contributing to sea-level rises; the video is available online at

A March 8, 2017, segment on the subject was “How scientists are tracking a massive iceberg in the making.”  That 5 min./55 second video, available online at, describes some of the satellite technology and imagery used to track such large-scale changes.

More information on changes to the Larsen Ice Shelf is available from the National Aeronautic and Space Agency (NASA), “Antarctica’s Changing Larsen Ice Shelf,” online at


Virginia Stormwater Local Assistance Fund Grants for 2017

In May 2017, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Director David Paylor approved the recipients for Fiscal Year 2017 grants from Virginia’s Stormwater Local Assistance Fund.  Forty-one projects in 26 localities were authorized for a total of $19,855,948.  Activites funded included stream restoration and stabilization, wetlands construction, detention/retention pond construction or modification, swale modification, woodland restoration, and replacement of impervious surface with permeable pavers.

Localities authorized for FY 2017 grants were the following.
Albemarle, Chesterfield, Fairfax, Hanover, Henrico, James City, Loudoun, Prince William, Roanoke, Stafford.

Alexandria, Chesapeake, Hampton, Lynchburg, Manassas Park, Newport News, Portsmouth, Roanoke, Virginia Beach.

Towns (with county location)
Ashland (Hanover County), Broadway (Rockingham County), Christiansburg (Montgomery County), Dumfries (Prince William County), Elkton (Rockingham County), Vienna (Fairfax County), Warsaw (Richmond County).

More information on the fund and the funded projects is available from the DEQ online at

Stormwater Rain Garden planters UNDER CONSTRUCTION College Ave Blacksburg Jun13 2013

Stormwater rain-garden planters under construction in downtown Blacksburg, Va., June 13, 2013.

Virginia Water-related Government Meetings for July 13-July 26, 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.


7/18/17, 9 a.m.: Gas and Oil Board.  At the Russell County Office Building, 139 Highland Drive in Lebanon.

7/19/17, 9:30 a.m.: State Water Control Board.  At the Department of Environmental Quality, Piedmont Regional Office, 4949-A Cox Road in Glen Allen (Henrico County).

7/19/17, 4 p.m.: Marine Resources Commission’s Shellfish Management Advisory Committee.  At 2600 Washington Avenue in Newport News.

7/25/17, 9:30 a.m.: Marine Resources Commission.  At 2600 Washington Avenue in Newport News.

7/26/17, 1 p.m.: Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  At the Hilton Alexandria Old Town, 1767 King Street in Alexandria.

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For meetings of legislative committees and commissions, see  Links to information about General Assembly commissions, councils, and special interim committees coordinated by the Division of Legislative Services are available online at

None during this period.

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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

None during this period.

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(topics listed alphabetically)

Coastal Zone Management
7/18/17, 1 p.m.: Virginia Coastal Zone Management Policies Advisory Group.  At the Department of Environmental Quality Main Office, 629 East Main Street in Richmond.  This group is advising the DEQ on the development by the Virginia Coastal Policy Center (located at the College of William and Mary; online at of documents for potential coastal zone management program change submissions.

Energy – Fossil Fuels/Groundwater
7/21/17, 10 a.m.: Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) listening session  on the Virginia Petroleum Storage Tank Fund (VPSTF) Reimbursement Guidance Manual and Usual and Customary Rate (UCR) Schedule.  At the DEQ Main Office, 629 East Main Street in Richmond.  According to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for this meeting, the DEQ is updating the Reimbursement Guidance Manual and the Usual and Customary Rate schedule.   Some preliminary goals of the guidance manual update are to adjust individual time and material codes to better reflect the actual expenses incurred; apply appropriate cost adjustments to the UCR schedule; and add and remove time and material codes from the UCR schedule as needed.

Land and Watershed Management
7/25/17, 7 p.m.: Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public hearing on proposed runway extension and development project at Stafford Regional Airport.  At Stafford Regional Airport, 95 Aviation Way in Fredericksburg.  According to the DEQ’s notice for this public comment opportunity (online at, the “DEQ is reviewing an Environmental Assessment for a proposed runway extension and other improvements as a component of the airport’s License Modification Application.  The purpose of the Environmental Assessment is to determine if a runway extension and additional development at the Airport would significantly impact socioeconomic and environmental resources within the proposed project area.”  The public comment period on the proposal runs 6/16/17 through 8/4/17.

7/13/17, 2 p.m.: GO Virginia Region 3 Agriculture and Natural Resources Group Roundtable.  The July 13 meeting is at the Institute for Advanced Learning, 150 Slayton Avenue in Danville; the July 14 meeting is at Longwood University’s Environmental Education Center, 1000 Cormier Drive in Farmville (Prince Edward  County).  Several GO Virginia other meetings will be held in July; a list is available online at  GO Virginia, online at, is the Virginia Initiative for Growth and Oppportunity in Each Region.  It’s a coalition of businesses, higher education, and community leaders seeking to stimulate economic growth and jobs across Virginia.  The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development’s (Va. DHCD) GO Virginia Web page is  An introduction to the program is available in the DHCD’s introductory packet for the 2017 GO Virginia Orientation Conference, available online (as a PDF) at  According to that document, “The Virginia Initiative for Growth and Opportunity in Each Region (GO Virginia) was initiated in 2015 by Virginia’s senior business leadership to foster private-sector growth and job creation through state incentives for regional collaboration by business, education, and government.”

7/24/17 and 7/25/17 – Virginia Port Authority meetings: 7/24/17, 1:30 p.m.-Nominating Committee7/24/17, 2 p.m.Growth and Operations Committee; 7/24/17, 3:35 p.m.Finance and Audit Committee; 7/24/17, 5 p.m.Executive Committee; 7/25/17, 9 a.m.Board of Commissioners and annual meeting.  All at 600 World Trade Center, 101 West Main Street in Norfolk.

Scenic Rivers
7/20/17, 12 p.m.: Historic Falls of the James Scenic River Advisory Board.  At City Hall in Richmond.

Technological Advances in Coastal Science Explored in Spring 2017 Issue of Coastal Heritage from the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium

“New Technologies—Driving Advances in Coastal Science” is the focus of the Spring 2017 issue of Coastal Heritage, from the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium.  This 11-page feature discusses technological developments over the past 25 years that have given scientists much greater capacity to record, measure, and process information, and how that capacity is being applied to coastal erosion, stream runoff, issues with nanoparticles, species identification, and ocean exploration.  The magazine is available online at, or contact the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium at (843) 953-2078; e-mail:


Offshore Wind-energy in Virginia: July 2017 Announcement by Dominion of Partnership with Danish Turbine Company

On July 10, 2017, Dominion Energy announced that is was partnering with Denmark-based Dong Energy (online at to place two six megawatt (MW)-capacity test turbines on the Virginia Beach coast by 2020.  The pilot project would be the second offshore wind-energy project in the United States, following the Block Island project off the Rhode Island coast that began operating in 2016.  Virginia officials have said that the Virginia Beach offshore project could ultimately develop into a 2000-MW facility on over 112,000 acres that Dominion leases from the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

Source: Long-anticipated Dominion wind project off Virginia Beach will move forward, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 7/10/17.

For more on offshore wind developments in Virginia, please see this Water Central News Grouper post.

Virginia Precipitation and Stream Flow for the 7-day Period Ending July 10, 2017, Plus an Overview of Flooding Nationwide

Below are several items summarizing recent precipitation and stream flow:

  1. Images showing precipitation in Virginia and other areas of the United States, and stream flow in Virginia, over the seven-day period ending July 10, 2017 (information available as of July 11).
  2. Flooding overview maps for Virginia and nationwide, as of July 11.

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:

For monthly reviews of precipitation, stream flow, and drought, please see the posts available at this link:

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,

GAGE Big Otter River near Ervington Rt 682 Campbell County Jun15 2017

July 2017 Gaging Station of the Month:  Big Otter River near Evington in Campbell County, Va., June 15, 2017.  U.S. Geological Survey information from this gage is online at


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 July 10, 2017.  As of that date, these data were provisional (needing to be verified for accuracy and subject to possible revision).  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

precip Jul10

precipperc Jul10
Another source of precipitation data is the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, online at  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 8 a.m. EDT on 7/11/17.  Please note that UTC, the time shown on the maps at the site, is four hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time and five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.

Precip US Jul11

Stream Flow

Seven-day-average Virginia stream flows at gaging stations as of July 10, 2017 are indicated in the map below, from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) WaterWatch for Virginia, accessed online at  The map’s color-coded dots compare the previous week’s average stream flows to the normal flow levels for that week over the historical record for each gaging station.  The color codes/percentile classes used by USGS are as shown in the chart following the map.  Note: Additional gaging stations (such as for reservoirs or for inactive sites) are shown on maps available at the USGS’ National Water Information System Mapper, online at

streams Jul10

stream codes

Flooding Overview

As of about 11 a.m. EDT on July 11, 2017, two stream-gaging stations in or near Virginia were near flood stage, according to the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service’s (AHPS) map of river levels relative to flood stage (color-coded) for Virginia and nearby areas.  The AHPS map for Virginia is shown below, along with the nationwide map as of the same time.  The maps are available online at; at that site, one can select Virginia or any other state of interest.
Flood VA Jul11
Flood US Jul11