National Hurricane Preparedness Week was May 7-13, 2017; Atlantic Tropical Storm Season Runs Officially on June 1-Nov. 30

The Atlantic tropical storm season (for the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico) runs officially from June 1 to November 30.  But once again in 2017, nature didn’t follow the official rules, because Tropical Storm Arlene formed in the mid-Atlantic in April.  (In 2016, Hurricane Alex formed in the mid-Atlantic in January.)

You may have missed Arlene, but the bulk of the Atlantic tropical storm season is coming, and mid-May is a good time to get ready.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) designated May 7-13, 2017, as National Hurricane Preparedness Week.  The agency identified seven areas of preparedness, one for each day of the week: Determine your risk;
Develop and evacuation plan;
Assemble disaster supplies;
Secure an insurance check-up;
Strengthen your home;
Check on your neighbor; and
Complete your written hurricane plan.
Information on these areas and lots of other information resources are available online at

Here are some additional online resources for staying informed during the Atlantic tropical storm season:
National Hurricane Center Web site for current advisories, tracks, etc.:

Two-day outlook for photos of all active systems in the Atlantic basin, online at; and five-day graphical outlook, online at

Information on storms missed: Advisory archive for 2017, online at; and links to graphs and other data for 2017 storms, online at

National Hurricane Center videos on You Tube:

Virginia Environmental Endowment Grants; Proposals Due June 15, 2017

June 15, 2017, is the next deadline for grant proposals to the Virginia Environmental Endowment (VEE).  Information about the VEE grant process is available online at  VEE’s Virginia grant program accepts proposals twice a year (deadlines of June 15 and December 1) from nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organizations and institutions and governmental agencies for grants for specific projects that promise measurable results to improve the environment.  In the Virginia program, grant priorities are water quality, the Chesapeake Bay, land conservation and use, environmental education and awareness, and other emerging issues.

VEE also has a grant program for the Kanawha and Ohio River valleys of Kentucky and West Virginia, intended to support research, education, and community action on water quality and its connections to public health and the environment.  That program, which accepts proposals only once per year, also has a June 15 deadline.

Details on project requirements and the submission process are online at

Located in Richmond, VEE was started in 1977 with $8 million of the $13.2 million assessed on Allied Chemical Corporation for pollution of the James River with the pesticide Kepone from the company’s Hopewell, Va., plant.  The organization’s main Web site is

Some of the information for this post was provided by the Virginia Water Monitoring Council (VWMC).  More information about the VWMC is available online at; or contact Jane Walker at the or (540) 231-4159.

Virginia Water-related Government Meetings for May 18-May 31, 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.


5/18/17, 10 a.m.: Department of Health’s Waterworks Advisory Committee.  At Sydnor Hydro, Inc., 2111 Magnolia Street in Richmond.

5/23/17, 9:30 a.m.: Marine Resources Commission.  At 2600 Washington Avenue in Newport News.

5/23/17, 9:30 a.m.: Soil and Water Conservation Board.  At Old Dominion Electric Cooperative, Dominion Boulevard in Glen Allen (Henrico County).  Also on 5/23/17, 9 a.m., the Board’s District Audit Sub-committee meets at the same location.

5/23/17, 1 p.m.: Board of Game and Inland Fisheries/Finance, Audit, and Compliance Committee.  At the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries office, 7870 Villa Park Drive in Henrico.  On 5/24/17, 9 a.m., the full Board meets at the same location.

5/24/17, all day but start time not indicated: Board of Forestry.  At 12580 West Creek Parkway in Richmond.

5/24/17, 10:30 a.m.: Land Conservation Foundation Board of Trustees.  At Virginia Commonwealth University’s Rice Center, 3701 John Tyler Memorial Highway in Charles City (Charles City County).

5/25/17, 9 a.m.:  Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  At the Patrick Henry Building, 1111 East Broad Street in Richmond.

5/31/17, 9 a.m.: Department of Health’s Sewage Handling and Disposal Appeals Review Board.  At the Perimeter Center, Training Room 1A, 9960 Mayland Drive in Richmond.

*          *          *


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.

*          *          *


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

5/18/17, 6 p.m., on the TMDL implementation plan for aquatic life and bacterial impairments in Butcher Fork, North Fork Powell River, South Fork Powell River, Powell River, and other Powell River tributaries, located in the Upper Tennessee River basin in Lee and Wise Counties.  At the Daniel Boone Soil and Water Conservation District Office, 32637 Main Street in Jonesville (Lee County).  (This is the second of two duplicate meetings; the first was 5/16/17 in Appalachia in Wise County.)  On 5/22/17, 3 p.m., the Industrial Working Group for this TMDL meets at the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy Office, 3405 Mountain Empire Road in Big Stone Gap (Wise County).  The Residential Working Group for this TMDL will hold duplicate meetings on 5/23/17, 6 p.m., at the Town Hall Gymnasium, 505 East 5th Street South in Big Stone Gap, and on 5/25/17, 6 p.m., at Pennington Gap Community Center, 41670 West Morgan Avenue in Pennington Gap (Lee County).

5/18/17, 7 p.m., on the TMDL implementation plan for aquatic life (benthic) impairments in the Little Calfpasture River, located in the James River basin in Rockbridge County.  At Goshen Volunteer Fire Hall, 140 Main Street in Goshen.

5/25/17, 1 p.m., on the TMDL implementation plan for bacterial impairments in Upper Goose Creek, Cromwells Run, and Little River Watersheds, located in the Potomac River basin in Fauquier County.  At Tri County Feeds, 7408 John Marshall Highway in Marshall.

*          *          *

(topics listed alphabetically)

5/22/17, 1 p.m.: Virginia Port Authority Finance and Audit Committee.  5/22/17, 2 p.m.: Growth and Operations Committee.  5/22/17, 3:30 p.m.: Executive Committee.  5/23/17, 9 a.m.: Board of Commissioners.  All at 600 World Trade Center, 101 West Main Street in Norfolk.

Resource Management Mapping and Planning
5/25/17, 10 a.m.: Virginia Geographic Information Network (VGIN) Advisory Board.  At the Department of Conservation and Recreation, 600 East Main Street in Richmond.  VGIN was established by the Virginia General Assembly in 1997 to help support the creation, development, and use of geographic information and related technology for state and local government agencies, colleges and universities, and other Commonwealth users of maps and geographic information.  It’s coordinated by the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA).  More information is available online at

Scenic Rivers
5/18/17, 12 p.m.: Historic Falls of the James Scenic River Advisory Board.  At City Hall in Richmond.

5/18/17, 4 p.m.: Catoctin Creek Scenic River Advisory Committee.  At Lovettsville Library, 12 North Light Street in Lovettsville (Loudoun County).

Water Quality Regulations and Standards
5/22/17, 10 a.m.: Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public meeting on proposed amendments to the Water Quality Management Planning Regulation for the Roanoke River Basin non-TMDL waste load allocation (WLA).  At the DEQ Blue Ridge Regional Office, 3019 Peters Creek Road in Roanoke.  According to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for this meeting, “The specific effluent limits needed to meet…water quality goals [in the basin] are discretionary.  The proposed amendments are to [Virginia Administrative Code section] 9 VAC 25-720-80B and would modify the existing waste load allocation for the South Hill Wastewater Treatment Plan (VA0069337)….”

5/24/17, 10:30 a.m.: Department of Health’s Sewage Handling and Disposal Advisory Committee/Periodic Review Subcommittee.  At the James Madison Building, Room 535, 109 Governor Street in Richmond.  As part of a periodic review, the subcommittee will consider proposed amendments and revisions to the Alternative Onsite Sewage System Regulations, Section 12 VAC 5-613 in the Virginia Administrative Code.

Jet Fuel Spill on May 10-11, 2017, at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach

On May 10-11, 2017, an estimated 94,000 gallons of jet fuel spilled from a leaking fuel line at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach.  The Navy discovered the leak on May 11 and contained the spill to the base that day, but by then the spill had spread to Wolfsnare Creek (a tributary of Lynnhaven Bay/Lynnhaven River/Chesapeake Bay).  By May 11, the Coast Guard announced that it had contained the spill at that waterway.  As of May 16, recovery of the spilled fuel from that creek was still taking place, the Virginia Department of Health was asking people to avoid any recreational activities in the creek south of Virginia Beach Boulevard, and some residents were reporting smelling fuel fumes in their homes.  On May 17, the Navy announced that it was temporarily re-locating residents of three neighborhoods affected by the fumes from the spill. On May 19, the Navy reported that the spill had been caused by a switch being in an incorrect position during a refueling operation, leading to fuel flowing into and out of a 2000-gallon container, rather than into the three intended 880,000-gallon tanks.  Reports on May 19 indicated that about 180 homes in the city had been affected by the spill.

Following are some news media accounts of the spill and its aftermath, listed from most recent to oldest:
A switch in the wrong position caused Oceana’s largest ever jet-fuel spill, Navy says, Virginian-Pilot, 5/19/17.
Navy officials reveal what caused NAS Oceana jet fuel spill last week, Southside Daily, 5/19/17.
Navy providing investigation update into jet fuel spill, WAVY TV-Hampton Roads, 5/19/17.
How has the NAS Oceana jet fuel spill affected watermen?, WAVY TV-Hampton Roads, 5/18/17.
Navy offers temporary relocation to some residents near Oceana fuel spill, WAVY TV-Norfolk, 5/17/17.
Navy offers relocation assistance for neighbors impacted by jet fuel leak, WTKR TV-Norfolk, 5/17/17.
Navy starts voluntary relocation for residents affected by Oceana jet fuel spill, Virginian-Pilot, 5/17/17.
Navy relocating residents affected by jet fuel spill, WVEC TV-Norfolk, 5/17/17.
6 days after fuel spill, Virginia Beach is still in recovery “emergency phase”, Southside Daily, 5/16/17.
“My whole house reeks”: Jet fuel vapors invade Virginia Beach neighborhoods, Virginian-Pilot, 5/15/17.
Navy continues cleanup of jet fuel spill at Oceana; London Bridge Road reopened, Virginian-Pilot, 5/15/17.
Wildlife rehab specialist called in after 5 birds found dead following Oceana jet fuel spill, Virginian-Pilot, 5/12/17.
Government agencies hear public concerns about NAS Oceana fuel spill, WTKR TV-Norfolk, 5/15/17.
Navy to hold public information session Monday to discuss fuel spill in Virginia Beach, Virginian-Pilot, 5/14/17.
Watch: Crews working to clean up jet fuel spill at NAS Oceana, WTKR TV-Norfolk, 5/11/17.
Thousands of gallons of Navy jet fuel spilled at Oceana, traffic diverted near base, Virginian-Pilot, 5/11/17.

Va. Governor Executive Directive on Reducing Carbon Emissions from Power Plants; Issued May 16, 2017

On May 16, 2017, Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed and announced Executive Directive 11, which instructs the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to begin a process of developing regulations to reduce carbon emissions from electric power plants.  The directive is available online (as a PDF) at

Following is an excerpt from the directive: “I hereby direct the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality, in coordination with the Secretary of Natural Resources, to take the following actions…
1. Develop a proposed regulation for the State Air Pollution Control Board’s consideration to abate, control, or limit carbon dioxide emissions from electric power facilities that: a. Includes provisions to ensure that Virginia’s regulation is “trading-ready” to allow for the use of market-based mechanisms and the trading of carbon dioxide allowances through a multi-state trading program; and b. Establishes abatement mechanisms providing for a corresponding level of stringency to limits on carbon dioxide emissions imposed in other states with such limits.
2. By no later than December 31, 2017, present the proposed regulation to the State Air Pollution Control Board for consideration for approval for public comment….”

The new directive follows the report on May 12 of the Executive Order 57 Work Group, which the governor established in June 2016 to study and make recommendations about reducing carbon emissions from the Commonwealth’s power plants.  The group’s final report, along with more information about Executive Order 57, is available online at

Source: Governor McAuliffe Takes Executive Action to Reduce Carbon Emissions Across Virginia; “Clean Energy Virginia” initiative will cap greenhouse gases and grow Virginia’s clean energy economy, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 5/16/17.

Following are some news media accounts on Executive Directive 11, listed from newest to oldest.
Virginia Begins Development of Cap-and-Trade Program for Electric Power Sector, National Law Review, 5/19/17.
Wagner takes aim at McAuliffe carbon order; critics say he’s seeking attention, Daily Press, 5/19/17.
Amid longshot run for governor, Wagner says he’ll call emergency hearing to fight McAuliffe’s climate change plan, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/19/17.
Virginia Governor Orders Power Plant Carbon Regulations, POWER Magazine, 5/18/17.
Bucking D.C. and Republican legislature, Virginia governor moves to limit carbon emissions, ThinkProgress (Center for American Progress Action Fund), 5/17/17.
McAuliffe Moves to Cap Utility Carbon Emissions, Bacon’s Rebellion, 5/17/17.
McAuliffe moves to curb carbon emissions blamed for sea level rise, [Newport News] Daily Press, 5/16/17.
McAuliffe: Virginia will regulate carbon emissions; ‘the threat of climate change is real’, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/16/17.
McAuliffe proposes statewide carbon cap, Washington Post, 5/16/17.
Virginia AG: State board can regulate carbon pollution, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/12/17.
Will Virginia forge its own path on carbon regulation?, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/3/17.

Virginia Precipitation and Stream Flow for the 7-day Period Ending May 15, 2017, Plus a Mid-Month Drought Assessment

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 May 15, 2017 (information available as of May 16); a national flooding overview map and a map of flooding in the region around Virginia, as of May 16; and the Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force’s daily map showing the status of several drought indicators in different Virginia regions, as of May 16.  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 May 2017 Little River Reservoir at Radford May6 2017 May 2017 Gaging Station of the Month: Little River Reservoir near Radford on the Montgomery County/Pulaski County line, May 6, 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 May 15, 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  As of that date, these data were provisional (needing to be verified for accuracy and subject to possible revision).
Precip May 15
Precip Perc May 15

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 5/16/17.  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 May 16

Stream Flow

Seven-day-average Virginia stream flows at gaging stations as of May 15, 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) area shown on maps available at the USGS’ National Water Information System Mapper, online at

Streams May 15

stream codes

Flooding Overview

As of about 2 p.m. EDT on May 16, 2017, one stream-gaging stations near Virginia was near flood stage.  The National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Center’s map of river levels relative to flood stage (color-coded) is available online at; at that site, one can select Virginia or any other state of interest.  Shown below are the U.S. and Virginia-region maps as of approximately 2 p.m. EDT.

Flooding US May 16

Flood VA May 16

Mid-month Drought Status Update

The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force (DMTF), a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its latest Virginia drought-status report on May 12, 2017.  The report is available at the DMTF Web site,  The Task Force was scheduled to meet and report again on June 8, 2017.

The Task Force also produces a daily map rating drought-status indicators.  Shown below is the map for May 16, 2017.  The status-indicator abbreviations on that map are as follows: GW = groundwater levels, Prcp = precipitation deficits, Res = reservoir storage, and Flow = stream flow conditions.  For each region of Virginia, the indicators are color coded for “normal,” “watch,” “warning,” or “emergency conditions.”  Note the emergency-conditions code (in red) for  groundwater in the Shenandoah Valley and north-central Piedmont areas, Virginia, and the warning code (in orange) for in the northern region.  Any given day’s current map and more information on drought status in Virginia are available the Task Force Web site, VA May 16


New River PCBs are Subject of Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Study in 2016-17; Draft TMDL Ready for Public Comment in May 2017; Final Public Meeting on TMDL Study Held May 10, 2017

This post updates previous posts from April 2016 and April 2017.

PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) in the New River in southwestern Virginia are the subject of a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) process that began in early April 2016.

The draft TMDL study for New River PCBs became available in May 2017; a link to the report is available at this DEQ Web site: comment on the draft will be accepted through June 9, 2017.

On May 10, 2017, the draft TMDL study was presented in a public meeting in Radford.  Information on the May 10 meeting is available at this Virginia Regulatory Town Hall link (link last checked May 11, 2017).  A Virginia Water Resources Research Center recording from the May 10 meeting is available at this link.  The recording (47 min./37 sec.) was intended to capture only the prepared remarks by Mark Richards, the DEQ staff person presenting the draft TMDL report at that meeting.  The posted audio deletes audience voices asking questions during the presentation and, for the most part, Mr. Richards’ responses to those questions.  Some of all of the visuals that were discussed during the May 10 presentation are available in the draft TMDL study (link noted above).

About 145 miles of the New, from Interstate 77 to the West Virginia line (along with several tributaries), have been under a Virginia Department of Health (VDH) fish-consumption advisory since 2004 (since 2001 for about 75 miles), when PCBs were found in fish-tissue samples.  An April 5, 2016, public meeting was held in Radford by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Virginia Tech’s Department of Biological Systems Engineering (BSE) to describe the known history of PCB contamination in the river and the TMDL study that aims to identify the current sources and loads of PCBs in the New.  Following a public comment period through May 3, 2016, the BSE Department and a DEQ technical advisory committee developed the New River PCB study that was released in draft form in May 2017.

The federal Clean Water Act requires that a TMDL study be done whenever the level of a pollutant in a water body regularly exceeds a state water-quality standard and, consequently, the water body is identified as “impaired.”  A TMDL study identifies sources of an impairment, allocates the contribution of each source to the overall impairment, and identifies reductions needed for the water body to fall within water-quality standards for the particular contaminant.  In Virginia, state law also requires development of TMDL implementation plan following the TMDL study.

According to the DEQ (“New River Watershed Study,” April 2016, available online at, PCBs “are chemicals that were used in electrical transformers and other equipment until the late 1970s and can remain in the environment for decades. … Sources of PCBs include, but are not limited to, point-source dischargers including municipal stormwater discharges, stormwater runoff from areas of known contamination, atmospheric deposition, and existing contamination in river sediments.”

DEQ information about the New River PCB TMDL is available online at

Other Sources:
Research could aid fight against PCBs in New River, Roanoke Times, 4/5/16.

Long hunt for source of PCBs in New River is to end this year
, Roanoke Times, 3/27/16.

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, “Resources for PCB TMDLs,” online at

Virginia Department of Health, “Fish Consumption Advisories/New River Basin,” online at; and “Frequently Asked Questions about Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs),” online (as PDF) at

New River Rt 611 Wilderness Road Pulaski County Jun30 2013 USED Grouper 4-12-16