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Official DEQ news releases.

List administrator(s): Bill Hayden, Jennifer Underwood, Irina Calos, John Tragesser

DEQ central office moving to new Main Street location in downtown Richmond

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 13, 2017

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447
william.hayden@deq.virginia.gov

RICHMOND, VA. -- The central office of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will begin moving its downtown Richmond operations to a new Main Street location on November 17, 2017.

The lease for DEQ's current location at 629 East Main Street has expired. DEQ employees will move out of this building, which has headquartered DEQ for more than 20 years, in stages. The Virginia Department of General Services has overseen the selection of the new location in the Bank of America Building.

As the DEQ staff relocates it will be consolidated onto four floors covering more than 81,000 square feet. In addition to cost savings in rent over the 10-year lease, the new space also includes energy-saving features such as lighting sensors, high-efficiency appliances and utility savings.

The move will be completed December 22, 2017. Between now and then, the DEQ street address will remain unchanged. On December 23, 2017, the street address will change to 1111 East Main St., Richmond, VA 23219. The post office box mailing address will not change, and DEQ phone numbers will remain the same.

During the move period -- November 17 through December 22 -- visitors should report to 629 East Main Street for information on meeting with DEQ staff.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: November 13, 2017 at 10:02 am

Virginia has cleanest air in at least 20 years

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 31, 2017

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447
william.hayden@deq.virginia.gov

RICHMOND, VA. -- The summer of 2017 was the cleanest ground-level ozone season in Virginia in at least 20 years, the Department of Environmental Quality announced today.

"We have made tremendous improvements in Virginia's air quality in the past two decades," DEQ Director David K. Paylor said. "Though we still have work to do to ensure that our air remains clean, the progress we have seen so far is a great benefit to all Virginians."

For years now, the trend for air quality in Virginia has been one of steady improvement. Pollutants such as ozone, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and particles have shown consistent declines for 20 years or more. Emissions of these pollutants in Virginia have decreased by almost 60 percent in the past 20 years. This has happened in the face of increased demand for electricity and many more vehicles on Virginia's highways.

Twenty years ago, the ozone health standard was 120 parts per billion, and many urban areas in the Commonwealth failed to meet it. Now, only four days this summer had ozone levels that exceeded the current, more stringent ozone standard of 70 ppb as of the end of September. These high ozone readings were limited to Arlington and Fairfax counties, with four exceedances, and Henrico and Giles counties, each with one.

All other areas of Virginia had no high ozone days in 2017. This year is even better than the second-cleanest year of 2013, when five high ozone days were recorded. In addition, Virginia is seeking redesignation for the Northern Virginia area from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the 2008 ozone standard (75 ppb). EPA will soon formally announce that the region has attained the 2008 standard, clearing the way for the redesignation that DEQ is seeking.

The 2017 ozone season compares with years in the 1990s when multiple ozone exceedances occurred on a single day, and in some cases there were dozens of days statewide that experienced high ozone. The average number of high ozone days in the 1990s was 86, including a high of 108 in 1993 and 1998. More information about air quality is on the DEQ website at www.deq.virginia.gov.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: October 31, 2017 at 10:24 am

Virginia declares drought watch for Middle James, Roanoke and Shenandoah regions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 11, 2017

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447
william.hayden@deq.virginia.gov

RICHMOND, VA. -- In response to existing conditions and to increase public awareness of the potential for a significant drought event, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has issued a drought watch advisory for the Middle James, Roanoke River and Shenandoah drought evaluation regions.

The affected localities and public water suppliers in the Middle James drought evaluation region include Albemarle, Amelia, Amherst, Appomattox, Buckingham, Chesterfield, Cumberland, Fluvanna, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, Nelson, Powhatan and Prince Edward counties, and the cities of Charlottesville, Colonial Heights, Hopewell, Lynchburg, Petersburg and Richmond.

The affected localities and public water suppliers in the Roanoke River drought evaluation region include Bedford, Campbell, Charlotte, Franklin, Halifax, Henry, Mecklenburg, Patrick, Pittsylvania and Roanoke counties, and the cities of Danville, Martinsville, Roanoke and Salem.

The affected localities and public water suppliers in the Shenandoah drought evaluation region include Augusta, Clarke, Frederick, Page, Rockingham, Shenandoah and Warren counties, and the cities of Harrisonburg, Staunton, Waynesboro and Winchester.

The drought watch advisory previously issued for the Northern Piedmont drought evaluation region remains in effect.

A drought watch advisory is intended to increase awareness of conditions that are likely to precede a significant drought event and to facilitate preparation for a drought. This advisory is being issued because drought watch indicators in the state’s Drought Assessment and Response Plan have been met.

According to the Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, an interagency group representing state and federal agencies, the primary factors contributing to the declaration of the drought advisory are:

-- Precipitation totals are less than 75 percent of normal over the past 90 days and less than 25 percent of normal over the last 30 days across much of the areas covered by the Middle James, Roanoke River and Shenandoah regions.

-- Stream flows are lower than 75 percent to 95 percent of recorded flows, indicating a moderate to severe hydrologic drought -- a period of below-average water content in streams, aquifers, lakes and soils.

-- Groundwater levels are lower than 75 percent to 95 percent of previously recorded September and October levels.

DEQ is sending notifications to all local governments, public water works and private sector water users in the affected areas, and is requesting that they prepare for the onset of a drought event by developing or reviewing existing water conservation and drought response plans. Through the drought watch advisory, Virginia is encouraging localities, public and private water suppliers, and self-supplied water users in the affected localities to voluntarily take these steps to help protect current water supplies:

-- Minimize nonessential water use.

-- Review existing or develop new local water conservation and drought contingency plans and take conservation actions consistent with those plans.

-- Include water conservation information on local websites and distribute water conservation information to the public as broadly as possible.

-- Continue monitoring the condition of public waterworks and self-supplied water systems in partnership with the Virginia Department of Health.

-- Impose water use restrictions when consistent with local water supply conditions.

-- Aggressively pursue leak detection and repair programs.

The next stage after a drought watch would be a "drought warning," which would be issued if conditions warrant. Drought warning responses are required when the onset of a significant drought event is imminent. Water conservation and contingency plans that are already in place or have been prepared during a drought watch stage would begin to be implemented. Water conservation activities at this drought watch stage generally would be voluntary. This does not preclude localities from issuing mandatory restrictions if appropriate.

Statewide information on the current drought status is available on the DEQ website at www.deq.virginia.gov.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: October 11, 2017 at 12:23 pm

State Water Control Board meeting dates announced

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 3, 2017

Contact: Ann Regn
(804) 698-4442
ann.regn@deq.virginia.gov

RICHMOND, VA. -- The State Water Control Board plans to hold two meetings in December to consider additional Section 401 water quality certification conditions for the proposed Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines.

Each meeting is scheduled to last about two days. On the first day of each meeting, those who made oral or written comments during the public comment period will have an opportunity to sign up to speak to the board under the board's policy for public participation. The official agenda containing more details will be available in early November.

The schedule for the meetings is:

-- Mountain Valley Pipeline. 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, December 6, 2017, and Thursday, December 7, 2017. Location: Trinity Family Life Center, 3601 Dill Road, Richmond, VA 23222.

-- Atlantic Coast Pipeline. 9:30 a.m., Monday, December 11, 2017, and Tuesday, December 12, 2017. Location: Trinity Family Life Center, 3601 Dill Road, Richmond, VA 23222.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will present a summary of the public comments it received and will make its recommendations to the board on the proposed additional conditions at each meeting. Also at each meeting, the board may approve, deny or amend the recommendations.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: October 03, 2017 at 11:08 am

Comment period on proposed pipelines has closed; DEQ now evaluating public comments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 23, 2017

Contact: Ann Regn
(804) 698-4442
ann.regn@deq.virginia.gov

RICHMOND, VA. -- The public comment period on the proposed Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipeline additional Section 401 water quality conditions is now closed and is not being extended.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has received about 20,000 comments, including technical comments and reports, signed petitions, general comments about the pipelines and more. At this time, DEQ is focused on reviewing the comments received. Each one will be reviewed and considered by DEQ.

When DEQ has completed its review and prepared a summary of the comments, DEQ will prepare draft responses to the comments and recommendations for the State Water Control Board's consideration at a meeting this fall.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: August 23, 2017 at 11:10 am