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Official DEQ news releases.

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

'Drought watch' advisories lifted for Middle James River, New River, Roanoke River regions

Drought watch continues for Upper James River region

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 14, 2013

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

RICHMOND, VA. – Increases in precipitation in the past several weeks have raised stream flows, ground water levels and reservoir stages across most of the Commonwealth. As a result, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has lifted the “drought watch” advisories previously issued for the Middle James River basin, the New River basin and the Roanoke River basin.

A drought watch advisory remains in effect for the Upper James River basin, which has received less precipitation and limited ground water recharge than other areas of Virginia.

The affected localities and water suppliers for the Upper James River basin include the counties of Alleghany, Bath, Botetourt, Craig and Rockbridge; the cities of Buena Vista, Covington and Lexington; and the towns of Clifton Forge, Fincastle, Iron Gate, New Castle and Troutville.

The main factors contributing to the removal of the drought watch advisories in the Middle James, New and Roanoke basins include:

• Precipitation amounts since October 1, 2012 (the beginning of the current water year), now total more than 85 percent of the normal amounts expected for this time period.
• Stream flows and ground water levels have increased to levels greater than 25 percent of historic recorded flows.
• Levels at several water supply and hydroelectric reservoirs have returned to full pool elevations.

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

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: February 14, 2013 at 9:06 am

Virginia adopts strategy to address potential water quality concerns

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 14, 2013

Contact: Bill Hayden (DEQ)
(804) 698-4447

Elaine J. Lidholm (VDACS)
(804) 786-7686

RICHMOND, VA. -- The Department of Environmental Quality and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) will be implementing a new strategy to proactively address potential water quality concerns that may arise on small farms that raise livestock and poultry in a concentrated area. These may include dairies, feedlots, poultry operations and other types of farms.

The strategy builds on existing state programs to help meet Virginia’s water quality goals, and it offers an alternative to additional regulatory requirements. It is not a one-size-fits-all regulation but is site specific and allows flexibility based on the type of operation, the physical site, the type and number of livestock and other factors.

“DEQ and VDACS have collaborated on the development of this strategy by which small animal feeding operations will be evaluated for site-specific risks or impacts to water quality,” DEQ Director David K. Paylor said. “It allows us to be flexible when addressing these concerns and puts a top priority on voluntary solutions.”

“We are in favor of this approach that takes into account the many variables of a smaller animal feeding operation,” added VDACS Commissioner Matt Lohr. “Additional regulations may be unnecessarily burdensome on many farmers, but a voluntary assessment strategy will provide better guidance when addressing water quality issues.”

The strategy, which originally was piloted on six farms in the Shenandoah Valley, emphasizes voluntary implementation of best management practices, or BMPs, to address risks or impacts to water quality that may originate from a confined livestock or poultry farm. BMPs are methods or techniques found to be the most effective and practical means in achieving an objective, in this case, clean water.

DEQ estimates there are approximately 800 such farms in Virginia to be assessed in the next three years. These farms are lots or facilities where animals are confined and fed for 45 days or more in any 12-month period, and crops or vegetation are not sustained in the normal growing season.

DEQ is contacting farm owners and operators to discuss the strategy and to schedule onsite assessments. If an onsite assessment identifies water quality risks or impacts, agency staff will work cooperatively with the farm owner or operator to establish a plan and schedule to address the water quality concern.

The Virginia Dairymen’s Association supports this new approach. Eric Paulson, Executive Secretary, said, “Dairy farmers in Virginia have long been stewards of the land. This flexible approach by DEQ and VDACS will help to maintain water quality and dairy farm viability. It will also serve to highlight many of the best management practices that farmers have implemented voluntarily. Avoiding burdensome regulations will allow dairy farm families to remain in business while also promoting water quality.”

More information is available on the DEQ website at www.deq.virginia.gov.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: January 14, 2013 at 11:25 am

Dry conditions lead to expanded 'drought watch' declarations

Drought watch advisories issued for two additional regions;
Appomattox advisory expanded to include all of Middle James region

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 11, 2012

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

RICHMOND, VA. – Lack of rainfall, along with continued low ground water levels and stream flows, have caused drought impacts in the James River and New River basins in central and western Virginia.

In response to these conditions and to increase public awareness of the potential for a significant drought event, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has issued “drought watch” advisories for the Upper James River basin and the New River basin regions, and extended the existing advisory for the Appomattox River basin to include the entire Middle James River region.

A drought watch advisory remains in effect for the Roanoke River basin.

DEQ is sending notifications to all local governments, public water works, and private-sector water users in the affected areas.

The affected localities and water suppliers for the Upper James River basin drought watch include the counties of Alleghany, Bath, Botetourt, Craig and Rockbridge; the cities of Buena Vista, Covington and Lexington; and the towns of Clifton Forge, Fincastle, Iron Gate, New Castle and Troutville.

The affected localities and water suppliers for the New River basin drought watch include the counties of Bland, Carroll, Floyd, Giles, Grayson, Montgomery, Pulaski and Wythe; the cities of Galax and Radford; and the towns of Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Dublin, Floyd, Fries, Glen Lyn, Hillsville, Independence, Narrows, Pearisburg, Pembroke, Pulaski, Rich Creek, Rural Retreat, Troutdale and Wytheville.

The affected localities and water suppliers for the Middle James basin drought watch (in addition to the Appomattox River basin) include portions of Appomattox, Buckingham, Chesterfield, Cumberland and Powhatan counties; all of Albemarle, Amherst, Fluvanna, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico and Nelson counties; the cities of Charlottesville, Lynchburg and Richmond; and the towns of Amherst, Ashland, Columbia, Dillwyn, Pamplin City and Scottsville.

The drought watch advisories have been expanded because conditions identified in the state’s Drought Assessment and Response Plan have declined. According to the Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, a group representing state and federal agencies, the main factors contributing to the expansion include:

• Precipitation amounts since October 1 have totaled less than 55 percent of the normal amounts expected for this time of year.
• Stream flow has dropped to levels between 90 percent and 75 percent less than recorded flows in the Upper James and New River regions and to levels between 95 percent and 90 percent less than recorded flows in the Middle James region.
• Ground water levels remain less than 75 percent to 90 percent of previously recorded levels in all three regions.
• Levels at several water supply and hydroelectric reservoirs have dropped to stages requiring drought response actions.
• Precipitation, stream flows and ground water levels continued to decline throughout November, during a time when rebounds normally occur.

Localities, public water suppliers and self-supplied water users in the James River and New River basins are encouraged to continue to voluntarily take these steps to 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 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.

More information on water supply status statewide is available on the DEQ website at www.deq.virginia.gov.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: December 11, 2012 at 11:36 am

Virginia issues 2011 recycling report

Statewide recycling rate remains above 40 percent

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 16, 2012

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

RICHMOND, VA. – The Department of Environmental Quality has issued its annual report on recycling by Virginia localities, and it shows that the Commonwealth recycled 43.5 percent of its municipal and other solid wastes in 2011.

This is an increase over the 2010 recycling rate of 40.5 percent. Information for the report comes from recycling rates submitted by Virginia’s 71 solid waste planning units (either a local government or a regional authority).

One of the main reasons for the continued increase is the use of “single stream” collection methods for recyclable goods. This means that residents are allowed to place all of their recyclables in a single container without sorting into bottles, cans, paper, etc. All of the separation into marketable grades and types of material happens at the processing center.

Each planning unit is required to achieve a minimum 25 percent recycling rate – unless its population density is less than 100 people per square mile, or its unemployment rate is 50 percent or more above the statewide unemployment average. Localities meeting these criteria are required to achieve a minimum 15 percent recycling rate.

The report is available on the DEQ website at www.deq.virginia.gov. It provides an overview of the materials recycled, the amount of waste disposed, and a listing of the recycling rate reported by each solid waste planning unit for 2011.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: October 16, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Conditions in Appomattox River basin lead to downgrading of drought status

‘Drought watch’ lifted for northern Piedmont region;
‘Drought watch’ status remains for Roanoke River region

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 10, 2012

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

RICHMOND, VA. – The Department of Environmental Quality has downgraded its advisory for the Appomattox River basin in south-central Virginia to a “drought watch” status and lifted the previously declared “drought watch” advisory for the northern Piedmont region.

A “drought watch” advisory remains in effect for the Roanoke River region.

Drought watch for Appomattox basin

The affected localities and public water suppliers for the Appomattox basin drought watch include Amelia, Appomattox, Buckingham, Chesterfield, Cumberland, Dinwiddie, Nottoway, Powhatan, Prince Edward and Prince George counties; the cities of Colonial Heights, Hopewell and Petersburg; and the towns of Appomattox, Blackstone, Burkeville, Crewe and Farmville.

DEQ is sending notifications to local governments, public water works and private-sector water users in the affected area. Localities, public water suppliers and self-supplied water users in the Appomattox basin are encouraged to continue 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 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 drought status has been changed to a drought watch advisory because indicators in the state’s Drought Assessment and Response Plan have improved. According to the Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, a group representing state and federal agencies, the primary factors contributing to the change are:

• Stream flow has improved from less than 95 percent of recorded flows in the area, indicating a severe hydrologic drought, to levels between 90 percent and 75 percent less than recorded flows.
• Ground water levels remain less than 75 percent to 90 percent of previously recorded levels.
• Levels at Lake Chesdin have stabilized at approximately 28 inches below full pool.
• Eight public water supplies continue to have either mandatory or voluntary water use restrictions.
• Temperatures are expected to drop significantly during the next month.

Removal of drought watch for northern Piedmont region

DEQ also has removed the “drought watch” advisory for the northern Piedmont region, which includes Greene, Madison, Rappahannock, Orange, Culpeper, Louisa, Spotsylvania and Stafford counties; the city of Fredericksburg; and the towns of Culpeper, Gordonsville, Louisa, Mineral, Madison, Orange, Stanardsville and Washington. Specific factors contributing to this change are:

• Rainfall amounts have returned to greater than 85 percent of normal totals in the past year, and the headwaters portion of the region has received more than 90 percent of normal precipitation in the past 90 days.
• Stream flows have returned to levels consistently greater than 25 percent of historic flows, representing normal conditions.
• Temperatures are expected to drop significantly during the next month.

Continuing drought watch for Roanoke River region

DEQ has continued the drought watch advisory for the Roanoke River region that includes Patrick, Franklin, Roanoke, Henry, Bedford, Pittsylvania, Campbell, Halifax, Charlotte, and Mecklenburg counties; the cities of Bedford, Danville, Martinsville, Salem and Roanoke; and the towns of Altavista, Brookneal, Charlotte Court House, Drakes Branch, Keysville, Phenix, Boones Mill, Rocky Mount, Halifax, Scottsburg, South Boston, Virgilina, Ridgeway, Boydton, Brodnax, Chase City, Clarksville, La Crosse, South Hill, Stuart, Chatham, Gretna, Hurt and Vinton.

Specific factors contributing to the continuance of this advisory are:

• Rainfall patterns have continued to produce less than 75 percent of normal rainfall over much of the region, particularly the headwaters, for more than 90 days.
• Stream flows have continually been 75 percent less than historic flows.
• Ground water levels have been 90 percent below historic levels for most of the past 90 days.

Through the drought watch advisory, Virginia is encouraging localities, public water suppliers and self-supplied water users in these 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 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.

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

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: October 10, 2012 at 10:51 am