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Official DEQ news releases.

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

Virginia issues statewide drought watch

July 14, 2010

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447

RICHMOND, VA. – Precipitation deficits and above-average temperatures have resulted in the emergence of drought impacts across much of the Commonwealth. In response to existing conditions and the potential for the situation to intensify quickly, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has issued a statewide drought watch.

A drought watch is intended to increase awareness of climatic conditions that are likely to precede a significant drought event and to facilitate preparation for a drought. Despite recent rain in portions of the Commonwealth, the potential exists for drought impacts to intensify if hot, dry conditions redevelop. DEQ recommends planning for that possibility as Virginia heads into the statistically driest months of the year.

The Virginia Drought Assessment and Response Plan specifies four indicators that are used to evaluate the severity of a drought: precipitation deficits, stream flow, ground water levels and reservoir levels. Stream flows in all areas of the Commonwealth, with the exception of Northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley, are at levels that indicate a drought watch or more severe drought status. Ground water levels in western and south central Virginia indicate a drought watch status, and levels in much of the remainder of the state are close to drought watch status.

The primary factors contributing to the declaration of a statewide drought watch are:

• Approximately 86 percent of the Commonwealth is experiencing abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions as defined by the U.S. Drought Monitor.
• Most of Virginia has experienced below normal precipitation in the last 60 days, and some areas have received less than 50 percent of the average precipitation. Short-term weather forecasts do not indicate a high probability of widespread, significant precipitation events that will erase these deficits.
• The majority of stream monitoring locations across Virginia are recording stream flows below normal ranges (less than the 25th percentile). The portions of the state with the lowest flows are southeast and central Virginia, where stream flows are consistent with moderate to severe hydrologic drought conditions.
• Agricultural interests statewide are seeing impacts from the dry conditions. Impacts include poor hay harvests, poor grazing conditions resulting in the use of hay reserves, and indications of stress to crops including corn.
• Observations during the last few weeks indicate that wildfire occurrence, rates of spread and fire intensity are much greater than would normally be expected during this time of the year. Twenty Virginia localities had issued burning bans as of July 12.
• There are no widespread reports of drought conditions affecting public water supplies.
• Levels of large reservoirs such as Lake Moomaw, Smith Mountain Lake, Kerr Reservoir and Philpott Reservoir have been slowly declining since June.

Through the drought watch declaration, the Commonwealth is encouraging localities, public water suppliers and self-supplied water users 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 state and local governments are closely monitoring conditions across the Commonwealth, and revisions to the drought stage will be made as conditions warrant. Updated information on the current drought status and water conservation tips are available on the DEQ website at

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: July 14, 2010 at 11:04 am

Virginia issues solid waste report for 2009

June 24, 2010

CONTACT: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447

RICHMOND, VA. -- The Department of Environmental Quality released its annual report today on solid waste management in Virginia. The report includes the amounts of solid waste managed in Virginia in 2009, and the amounts and sources of solid waste generated outside the Commonwealth.

The total amount of solid waste received at Virginia facilities during 2009 decreased by about 2.5 million tons (11.2 percent) from 2008. Solid waste includes municipal solid waste, construction and demolition debris, vegetative and yard waste, and other types of waste. The total amount of solid waste from outside Virginia decreased by about 1.3 million tons (19.1 percent) to about 5.3 million tons. The total amount from within Virginia decreased by 1.2 million tons (7.8 percent) to about 14.2 million tons.

Other findings of the report include:

• Of the nearly 19.6 million tons of solid waste reported in 2009, approximately 13.2 million tons (68 percent) were municipal solid waste, which is trash from households and businesses.
• The total amount of municipal solid waste generated outside Virginia was approximately 4.3 million tons, a decrease of about 807,000 tons (15.9 percent). Maryland, New York, Washington, D.C., New Jersey and North Carolina accounted for 97.5 percent of all waste received from out-of-state sources.
• Of the total solid waste reported in 2009, about 3.2 million tons (16.3 percent) were construction and demolition debris.
• Of the total solid waste managed in Virginia in 2009, about 12.5 million tons (77.8 percent) were disposed of in landfills, about 2.1 million tons (13 percent) were incinerated. The rest was managed by other means, including mulching and recycling.

The full solid waste report is available on the DEQ website at

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: June 24, 2010 at 11:30 am

State investigators prepare for possible fish disease and mortality outbreaks

April 19, 2010

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

RICHMOND, VA. -- The Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries continue to track and investigate springtime fish disease and mortality events that have occurred in several rivers in the western part of Virginia in recent years. Only a few isolated problems have been reported to date this spring, but as the period begins when these events have occurred in past years, the state agencies are enhancing their investigation by seeking input from the public.

Since 2004, fish disease outbreaks and mortality have occurred in the Shenandoah River basin. In spring 2007 similar events began in the upper James and Cowpasture rivers. The impacts appear to be most severe among smallmouth bass and sunfish, although other types of fish also have been affected. Outbreaks often are accompanied by open sores, or skin lesions, in many of the diseased fish. Typically these events have begun in the spring when water temperatures rise into the 50s and have continued until water temperatures reach the mid-70s, generally running from early April until mid-May.

In 2005, DEQ and DGIF formed the Shenandoah River Fish Kill Task Force, a group of stakeholders, including university and government scientists, environmental groups, fishing guides, and volunteer monitors - all with the goal of finding the cause of the annual spring die-off events. This coordinated approach helped state agencies set priorities, identify, conduct and evaluate research into causes of the springtime outbreaks.

Studies by state and federal scientists and several university researchers have focused on water chemistry, general health of fish and other aquatic life, and fish diseases. Water quality studies to date have not identified any individual chemicals at levels that would be expected to cause fish disease or mortality. Fish health studies indicate that fish are subjected to multiple stresses, with evidence of damaged skin, gills and internal organs. Fish appear to have a high number of internal parasites, and a high prevalence of a condition called fish intersex also has been observed in some species.

Biological pathogens, especially bacterial fish diseases, have come under greater focus during the past two years. Initial findings suggest links between certain bacteria and the disease outbreaks. Ongoing studies involving DEQ, DGIF and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Leetown, W. Va., Science Center, continue to explore the role of bacterial communities, along with environmental and contaminant factors that may cause immune suppression.

The public has made a significant difference in this investigation. State officials and environmental leaders have learned of many of these outbreaks from reports provided by fishermen, land owners and other river users. Knowing the timing and distribution of these events will help scientists focus on the areas where incidents are active, and will help generate the most meaningful data. This information also allows DEQ and DGIF to post current information on locations and severity of fish disease and mortality and share this information with the public through updates on the agency websites.

The public is encouraged to continue to provide reports on observations of diseased, dying or dead fish. Helpful information includes location, date, unusual water conditions, types and numbers of fish, and photographs. Anyone with information on dead or dying fish is encouraged to contact the DEQ regional office in Harrisonburg at (540) 574-7800, or toll-free in Virginia at 1-800-592-5482. Information also can be emailed to

From: Krystal Coxon

Sent: April 19, 2010 at 10:42 am

Virginia issues 2008 report on chemical releases

March 30, 2010

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

RICHMOND, VA. -- Virginia industries reported that chemicals released on-site at facilities decreased by 20.4 percent in 2008, according to the latest Toxics Release Inventory produced by the Department of Environmental Quality.

Virginia industries reported 996.1 million pounds of chemicals managed on-site, transferred off-site or released, a 6.7 percent increase from the previous year. This is due mainly to an increase in on-site recycling activities by three Virginia facilities and an increase in on-site energy recovery for one facility.

DEQ compiles toxic release inventory chemicals data from reporting facilities annually. The 2008 report, which contains the most recent data available, includes these findings:

• 51.6 million pounds of chemicals released on-site to the air, water and land (a 20.4 percent decrease from 2007).
• 84 million pounds of chemicals transferred off-site for treatment, recycling, energy recovery, or disposal (a 5.8 percent decrease from 2007).
• 860.5 million pounds of chemicals managed on-site by treatment, recycling, or energy recovery (a 10.4 percent increase from 2007).

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 persistent chemicals in 2008 totaled 292,102 pounds, a 0.3 percent increase from 2007.

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 2008 Toxics Release Inventory is available online at Information on releases from 2009 is due to DEQ for analysis this summer and will be available to the public in early 2011.

From: Krystal Coxon

Sent: March 30, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Virginia Waste Management Board issues $165,000 penalty

Jan. 12, 2009

Contact: Krystal Coxon, DEQ
(804) 698-4399

RICHMOND, VA. -- On Dec. 21, 2009, the Virginia Waste Management Board issued a $165,000 penalty in a consent order issued to Advanced Technologies Processing Inc., in Henrico County for violations regarding the company's management of solid and hazardous waste.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality's investigations revealed that Advanced Technologies did not follow all waste management regulation requirements and did not acquire all necessary DEQ permits. DEQ investigations found that the company had multiple violations such as the failure to prevent a release of universal and hazardous waste at its Henrico County facility, not properly training employees, and not responding appropriately to releases of mercury-contaminated phosphor dust.

In addition to the civil charge, Advanced Technologies is required to ensure proper cleanup in accordance with hazardous waste regulations at the Henrico County facility located at 4300 Eubank Road. The facility ceased operations in 2009 and the company is not currently operating in Virginia.

Advanced Technologies collected waste electronic devices and waste fluorescent lamps for recycling at its facility in Henrico County. The lamps were crushed and separated into glass, metal end caps and phosphor dust, a hazardous waste that contains mercury. The electronic device waste was then shipped to its sister company, Supreme Asset Management Inc., located in New Jersey, for processing.

More information about the waste management regulations, including the Virginia Waste Management Act, Virginia hazardous waste management regulations and solid waste management regulations is available on the DEQ website at

From: Krystal Coxon

Sent: January 12, 2010 at 9:25 am