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Official DEQ news releases.

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

"No-discharge zones" under development on Northern Neck

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 7, 2011

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

RICHMOND, VA. – Shellfish harvest restrictions due to fecal bacterial contamination are common throughout Virginia’s tidal Chesapeake Bay tributaries. Studies used to restore water quality, known as “total maximum daily loads,” document human sources that may include failing septic systems and overboard sewage discharge from boats. The pollution reduction plans associated with TMDLs also address land-based sources of bacteria.

To address the impact of boats, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has been directed by the General Assembly to seek federal designation of the Commonwealth’s Bay tributaries as “no-discharge zones.” This designation prohibits the overboard discharge of sewage, whether treated or untreated, and includes a strong public awareness program about the environmental impact of boat waste.

No-discharge zones also promote the use of pump-out facilities and dump stations as alternatives to discharging waste. The certification of marine sanitation devices, which are used to treat and/or hold sewage on vessels, is targeted to meet Virginia’s water quality standard for recreation. It does not specifically protect the sensitive shellfish growing areas.

Virginia already has tidal no-discharge zones in the Lynnhaven River in Virginia Beach, and in Broad Creek, Jackson Creek and Fishing Bay in Middlesex County. In the Lynnhaven River, one marina reported that pump-outs nearly doubled concurrently with no-discharge zone designation, from 154 in 2006 to 299 in 2007. Along with other measures, establishment of this zone led to the re-opening of 1,462 acres of condemned shellfish growing areas, some closed since the 1930s, to commercial harvest.

Current efforts to expand no-discharge zones are focusing on Bay tributaries bordering Virginia’s Northern Neck. DEQ is proposing no-discharge zones for Richmond, Lancaster, Northumberland and Westmoreland counties. The four-county proposal will be sent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for review by July 2011.

DEQ and the Northern Neck Planning District Commission will host a public meeting to provide a summary of the draft federal no-discharge zone application for selected water bodies in Westmoreland County, including Bonum, Jackson, and Gardner creeks; Ragged Point, Lower Machodoc (and selected tributaries), Nomini (and selected tributaries), and Mattox creeks (and tributaries); Monroe Bay and Rosier Creek, in addition to a portion of one water body in King George County (Rosier Creek).

The meeting will be held June 14, 2011, at 6 p.m. in the A.T. Johnson Alumni Museum, 18849 Kings Highway, Montross, VA 22520. DEQ will accept public comments on the application June 15 through July 15, 2011.

DEQ also is accepting public comments for Northumberland County’s application. The comment period for the Northumberland County application ends June 30, 2011.

For more information see www.deq.virginia.gov/tmdl/ndz.html or contact Liz McKercher, DEQ watershed coordinator, at elizabeth.mckercher@deq.virginia.gov or (804) 698-4291.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: June 07, 2011 at 11:05 am

Community leaders pick up their spades for 'Plant Eastern Shore Natives' campaign

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 25, 2011

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

RICHMOND, VA. – This spring the Plant ES Natives campaign is branching out as “community leaders” across the Eastern Shore help spread the message that Eastern Shore native plants are “Shore Beautiful!”

In March, the Plant ES Natives campaign held its first community leader training at Eastern Shore Community College. Community leaders are those who will assist the campaign in expanding its reach into the broader Shore community through presentations, exhibits and public events. Leaders also will serve as liaisons with local garden centers, including lending a hand in tagging native plants, and will share the word of natives for sale at the centers.

After completing their training, the newly certified community leaders received special lapel pins recognizing their status. They also received copies of the free guide to Eastern Shore native plants produced by the campaign, “Native Plants of Accomack and Northampton,” to distribute within their communities.

The Plant ES Natives campaign is a multi-year, multi-partner effort launched in April 2009 with funding from the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program at the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. The community leader program is the latest step in moving this community-based initiative forward.

In addition to providing the colorful new native plant guide, the campaign is running radio ads on WERS through the end of May urging residents to look for the “Plant ES Natives” plant tag on their next visit to an Accomack or Northampton county garden center. Participating garden centers have received banners advertising that they sell Eastern Shore native plants.

To showcase the beauty of Eastern Shore native plants, the campaign is installing and certifying demonstration gardens. Gardens are open to the public in Wachapreague, Willis Wharf, Chincoteague, Oyster, Kiptopeke State Park and the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge. Another is in progress at the new medical health center in Onley. Information about these gardens and the native plants used is available on the campaign’s website. The campaign also plans to offer a self-guided tour of the sites this fall as part of a “Plant ES Natives Celebration Day.”

Eastern Shore native plants are encouraged because they have been part of the Shore’s local ecology since before John Smith’s landing and they are adapted to the Shore’s local soils and climate conditions, resulting in many benefits to the region, its residents and migratory birds.

Eastern Shore native plants:

• Require less watering and fertilizing than non-natives and are less susceptible to drought conditions. Less watering means conserving potable water supplies for non-watering uses.
• Are often more resistant to insects and disease and thus less likely to need pesticides that may leach into water supplies or run off into shellfish aquaculture farms.
• Provide critical habitat and food for the millions of migratory birds that rely on Virginia’s Eastern Shore as a rest stop each spring and fall.
• Help preserve the diversity, beauty and function of the shore’s natural ecosystems.

Additional community leader training sessions will be offered for residential gardeners interested in helping with the campaign. To learn more about the campaign and how these native plants are “Shore Beautiful,” visit the DEQ website at www.deq.virginia.gov/coastal/go-native.html. Or contact Virginia Witmer, the campaign’s coordinator at the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program at (804) 698-4320, virginia.witmer@deq.virginia.gov, or Laura McKay, program manager for the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program at (804) 698-4323, laura.mckay@deq.virginia.gov. The campaign also is on Facebook.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: April 25, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Cindy Berndt of Virginia DEQ receives Erchul Environmental Leadership Award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 11, 2011

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

RICHMOND, VA. – Cindy M. Berndt, regulatory affairs director for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, is the 2011 recipient of the Capt. Ronald A. Erchul Environmental Leadership Award. The award was presented April 6 at the Environment Virginia Symposium at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington.

“Cindy has worked for many years, largely behind the scenes, to ensure that Virginia’s environmental regulations are developed accurately, efficiently and in full view of the public,” DEQ Director David K. Paylor said. “As DEQ’s regulatory expert, Cindy has a well-deserved reputation for fairness and a vast knowledge of environmental laws and regulations in the Commonwealth.”

Ms. Berndt, a Richmond native, attended Virginia Intermont College in Bristol. She began work in 1970 at the State Water Control Board (now DEQ). She currently directs the DEQ Office of Regulatory Affairs, overseeing the development of air, water and land protection regulations. She also is DEQ’s staff liaison to three citizen regulatory boards: the State Water Control Board, the Air Pollution Control Board and the Waste Management Board.

The Erchul award recognizes a Virginian who has made significant individual efforts to better the environment. The award is named for retired VMI Civil & Environmental Engineering Professor Ronald A. Erchul, Ph. D., the founder of the Environment Virginia Symposium.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: April 11, 2011 at 11:09 am

Virginia issues 2009 report on chemical releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 23, 2011

Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4777
william.hayden@deq.virginia.gov

RICHMOND, VA. -- Virginia industries reported that chemicals released on-site at facilities decreased by 8.3 percent in 2009, according to the latest Toxics Release Inventory produced by the Department of Environmental Quality.

Virginia industries reported 900.4 million pounds of chemicals managed on-site, transferred off-site or released, a 9.2 percent decrease from the previous year.

DEQ compiles toxic release inventory chemicals data from reporting facilities annually. The 2009 report, which contains the most recent data available, includes these findings:

• 47.5 million pounds of chemicals released on-site to the air, water and land (a decrease of 8.3 percent from 2008).
• 64.6 million pounds of chemicals transferred off-site for treatment, recycling, energy recovery, or disposal (a 23.1 percent decrease from 2008).
• 788.3 million pounds of chemicals managed on-site by treatment, recycling, or energy recovery (a 7.9 percent decrease from 2008).

The report also includes data about releases of a group of chemicals known as persistent bioaccumulative toxics. These chemicals remain in the environment for long periods of time and can build up in living tissue. Releases of these chemicals totaled 277,724 pounds, a 4.9 percent decrease from 2008.

DEQ uses the TRI data to target facilities for projects to reduce pollution at the source. DEQ’s Environmental Excellence Program uses incentives and assistance efforts to promote environmental stewardship beyond regulatory compliance. The goal of this initiative is to help develop more efficient technologies and business operations by reducing the amount of chemicals released to the environment and improving how the chemicals are managed.

The 2009 TRI is available at www.deq.virginia.gov/sara3/3132009.html on the DEQ website. Information on releases from 2010 is due to DEQ for analysis this summer and will be available to the public in early 2012.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: March 23, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Public comments sought on revised biosolids regulations

RICHMOND, VA. – The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is accepting public comments on proposed revisions to the regulations on the land application of biosolids, or treated sewage sludge. The comment period extends through April 29, 2011, and the public may comment in writing or in person at one of four public hearings.

DEQ started the regulatory revision process in 2008. In addition, the secretary of natural resources and the secretary of health and human resources responded to a request from the Virginia General Assembly in 2007, and convened a panel of experts to study the impact of land application of biosolids on human health and the environment. Publishing its report in January 2009, the panel recommended that DEQ examine certain areas of the regulations.

To develop the proposed revisions, a regulatory advisory group was convened to consider many aspects of the regulations, including the recommendations of the secretaries’ panel as well as changes related to public notice processes, permit modification procedures, setback distances, nutrient management, storage, and permit fees, among others.

Comments can be submitted online at www.townhall.virginia.gov; in writing addressed to William K. Norris, P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA 23218, or william.norris@deq.virginia.gov; or at one of four public hearings to be held at these locations:

• March 31, 2011, at 7 p.m. – James River Conference Center, 400 Court St., Lynchburg, VA 24504.
• April 5, 2011, at 7 p.m. – Henrico County Board Room, Western Government Center, 4301 East Parham Road, Henrico, VA 23228.
• April 7, 2011, at 7 p.m. – Turner Ashby High School, 800 North Main St., Bridgewater, VA 22812.
• April 12, 2011, at 7 p.m. – Liberty High School, 6300 Independence Ave., Bealeton, VA 22712.

A question-and-answer period will be held from 6:15 to 6:45 p.m. before the public hearing at each location.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: March 07, 2011 at 9:40 am