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Official DEQ news releases.

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

Virginia reaches proposed agreement with HRSD, local governments on sewage system improvements

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 6, 2007

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


RICHMOND, VA. – The Department of Environmental Quality has agreed on a proposed consent order with the Hampton Roads Sanitation District and 13 local jurisdictions in Hampton Roads to complete long-term improvements to their sewage collection systems and to reduce releases of untreated sewage to the environment.

“This tentative agreement will involve an unprecedented level of cooperation and coordination among Virginia, HRSD and the local governments,” DEQ Director David K. Paylor said. “It will establish a consistent, uniform framework for identifying and implementing regional and individual improvements to this extensive sewage treatment system that ultimately will benefit the environment and all residents of Hampton Roads.”

A public comment period on the proposed agreement begins today and runs through September 5, 2007. DEQ will present the consent order to the State Water Control Board for final approval.

In addition to HRSD, which is responsible for sewage treatment services for Hampton Roads communities, other participants in the agreement are Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, Gloucester County, Isle of Wight County, York County, the James City Service Authority and the town of Smithfield.

Under the consent order, HRSD and the localities have agreed to a two-phased approach to sewer system management. The first phase involves data collection and developing plans at the regional and local levels. The second phase will enable long-term sewer rehabilitation and capacity enhancements. Key actions addressed in this consent agreement include:

• Installation of flow meters and rainfall gauges to determine sewage flow rates and the amount of rainfall entering the system.

• Sewer system evaluation surveys to help identify where improvements are needed.

• Perform interim repairs on existing sewage treatment facilities as necessary.

• Complete a wet weather management plan that includes a full range of capital and operating alternatives to reduce the occurrence of discharges of untreated sewage to Virginia waters.

The proposed consent order and related information are available on the DEQ website at www.deq.virginia.gov.


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From: Julia Wellman

Sent: August 06, 2007 at 11:13 am

DEQ to hold public meeting on Staunton River PCB study

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 2, 2007

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


RICHMOND, VA. -- The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will host a public meeting on August 7 at 6:30 p.m. in the Brookneal Elementary School to discuss a water quality study of the Staunton (lower Roanoke) River.

The DEQ South Central Regional Office in Lynchburg has been studying the water quality of the Staunton River from Altavista in Campbell County to Clover in Halifax County. Elevated levels of PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, have been found in fish from the river. The PCB levels restrict the consumption of some fish from the Staunton River. At the meeting in Brookneal, DEQ will discuss the water quality study, monitoring efforts and cleanup activities.

As part of the study, DEQ is working to identify sources of PCB compounds. Initial testing indicates that at least three locations require additional testing to identify possible PCB sources in the river. These locations are Burlington Industries in Hurt, the Altavista wastewater treatment plant and the Dan River plant in Brookneal.

In January 2006, DEQ took samples of water discharged from each location. The total concentration of PCBs was 60.4 parts per trillion in water discharged from Burlington Industries, 2.2 ppt in water discharged from the Altavista wastewater treatment plant and 0.5 ppt in water discharged from the Dan River plant in Brookneal. The maximum allowable amount of PCBs in surface waters is 1.7 ppt under Virginia’s water quality standards. To confirm these initial test results, DEQ will conduct additional sampling in August 2007.

The Dan River plant stopped industrial operations in September 2006. The Altavista treatment plant receives wastewater from BGF Industries. The BGF Industries plant has been previously identified as a PCB source, and DEQ continues to work with the company to address contamination at the site.

In 2006, DEQ obtained fish tissue samples from the Staunton River. Results from these tests indicate that PCB concentrations in fish tissue ranged from 7 to 1,712 parts per billion, with the highest amounts found near Clover. The Virginia Department of Health level of concern is 50 ppb for PCBs in fish tissue.

Information from the study will be used to develop a total maximum daily load for the Staunton River. A TMDL is the maximum amount of a pollutant a water body can contain and still meet water quality standards. To restore water quality, PCB levels have to be reduced to the TMDL amount.

PCBs are chemicals that were used in electrical transformers and other equipment until the late 1970s and can remain in the environment for decades. Long-term exposure to PCBs may increase the risk of cancer. The Virginia Department of Health recommends that high-risk individuals such as pregnant women, women planning to become pregnant, nursing mothers, infants, and young children should avoid eating PCB-contaminated fish from advisory areas. A full list of fish affected by the fish consumption advisory is available on the Virginia Department of Health website at www.vdh.virginia.gov.

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From: Julia Wellman

Sent: August 02, 2007 at 12:43 pm

Virginia, localities monitor drought conditions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 25, 2007
Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447
wphayden@deq.virginia.gov

RICHMOND, VA. -- The current effects of drought in Virginia could intensify, according to a report by the Drought Monitoring Task Force, and state and local governments are closely monitoring conditions across the Commonwealth.

Though statewide precipitation levels since October 2006 are within the normal range, precipitation within shorter periods is below normal. Virginia has received about half as much rainfall (47 percent) as usual in the last three weeks.

Other findings of the Drought Monitoring Task Force report include:

• The most significant drought effects are occurring in the agricultural sector.
• Nearly 85 percent of the Commonwealth is experiencing abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions. The effects of drought are predicted to diminish through October in all areas currently identified as being impacted by drought, based on the seasonal drought outlook issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
• Portions of southwest Virginia consistently have experienced below normal precipitation amounts since October 2006.
• There are no reports of drought conditions affecting public water supplies. However, the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority has declared a drought watch for its service area, which is consistent with the authority’s drought contingency plan.
• Stream flows in southwest Virginia, the Northern Neck, the Middle Peninsula, the Eastern Shore and portions of Northern Virginia range from below normal to levels that are consistent with moderate drought conditions. Stream flows for the rest of the Commonwealth and ground water levels are at the lower end of the normal range.
• Levels of large reservoirs such as Lake Moomaw, Smith Mountain Lake, Kerr Reservoir and Philpott Reservoir have been slowly declining.

The Department of Environmental Quality is working with localities across Virginia to develop long-term water supply plans to determine water needs and potential alternatives for at least 30 years, and to improve preparation for future drought. The Commonwealth is also encouraging localities, public water suppliers and self-supplied water users to take the following steps to help protect current water supplies:

• Review existing or develop new water conservation and drought contingency plans, and take conservation actions that are consistent with those plans.
• Include water conservation information on websites and distribute water conservation information as broadly as possible.
• Continue monitoring the conditions of public waterworks and self-supplied water users in partnership with the Virginia Department of Health.
• Aggressively pursue leak detection and repair programs.

DEQ, the U.S. Geological Survey, the State Climatology Office, the Virginia Department of Health, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and other state agencies contributed information to the report. The report and water conservation tips are available on the DEQ website at www.deq.virginia.gov.


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From: Julia Wellman

Sent: July 25, 2007 at 2:44 pm

Virginia announces water supply grants for localities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 17, 2007

Contact:
Julia Wellman
(804) 698-4399
jhwellman@deq.virginia.gov


RICHMOND, VA. -- The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is awarding grants totaling $300,000 to 13 government authorities to assist in the development of local and regional water supply plans.

“These grants will support the Commonwealth’s efforts to provide sufficient water supplies statewide,” DEQ Director David K. Paylor said. “Planning for future availability and uses of water will enable Virginians to protect our natural resources while ensuring that our water needs are met for the public and for economic growth.”

Regional and local water supply plans will lead to the development of the first statewide water supply plan. During the development of the plan, localities will have the lead role in identifying their future needs, and DEQ will provide technical support and oversight. The statewide plan will describe local and regional water needs and potential alternatives for at least 30 years into the future. The statewide plan will also allow improved preparation for future drought, increased opportunities for public input, and the potential to reduce conflicts in future permit processes.

The grant amounts, which will be supplemented by local funds, and the government authorities that will receive them are:

• Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission – Upper James River Basin: $20,000
• Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission – Upper Shenandoah Basin: $35,000
• Lunenburg County: $20,000
• Greensville County Water and Sewer Authority: $20,000
• LENOWISCO Planning District Commission: $25,000
• Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission: $30,000
• Mount Rogers Planning District Commission: $25,000
• Prince Edward County: $30,000
• Region 2000 Local Government Council: $30,000
• Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission – Alleghany Highlands: $10,000
• Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission – Greater Roanoke: $20,000
• Southside Planning District Commission: $10,000
• West Piedmont Planning District Commission: $25,000

Local governments must submit their plans for approval by the State Water Control Board according to a schedule based on population. The first plans will be due in 2008 and the last ones in 2011. Localities have received a total of more than $1 million in grants from the Commonwealth since 2006 to support the development of local and regional water supply plans.

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

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From: Julia Wellman

Sent: July 17, 2007 at 12:53 pm

2007 Environmental Stewardship Awards announced

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 26, 2007

Contact:
Julia Wellman
(804) 698-4399
jhwellman@deq.virginia.gov


RICHMOND, VA. -- Three individuals and one group received the 2007 Virginia Environmental Stewardship Awards during a presentation today by Secretary of Natural Resources L. Preston Bryant Jr. and Executive Director of the Virginia Petroleum Council Mike Ward.

The event marked the 12th year of the statewide environmental recognition program co-sponsored by the Virginia Petroleum Council (a division of the American Petroleum Institute) and the Commonwealth. Awards were presented in four categories: education, organization, individual and communication.

“These award winners have shown outstanding dedication to protecting natural resources and providing information that will benefit the environment,” Bryant said. “They clearly deserve this recognition.”

“The Virginia Petroleum Council and our member companies are pleased to support these awards,” Ward said. “The activities and programs represented by today's recipients should serve as an inspiration to all Virginians and remind us as to how we can all better protect our environment.”

The awards recognize individuals and organizations that demonstrate outstanding and innovative contributions to protect Virginia’s natural resources. The awards program supports the Virginia Naturally statewide effort to promote lifelong learning about Virginia’s environment and stewardship of the Commonwealth’s natural resources.

The nominations for this year’s awards included beautification and conservation projects, ecological activities, environmental education projects, and community or school programs. A list of the winners is below.


2007 Environmental Stewardship Awards

Organization

Fort Belvoir military housing project, Fort Belvoir – This ambitious program in Northern Virginia emphasizes smart growth and new urbanism for more than 2,000 homes. The master plan for construction includes a town center to reduce driving for nearby families. Homes in the project are Energy Star-certified and replace structures that are less energy efficient. Energy Star is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy that promotes energy-efficient products and practices. In addition, an innovative storm water management system was developed to reduce effects on local wetlands.


Communication

Wayne Kirkpatrick, Stuart – Kirkpatrick has made significant contributions to water quality monitoring of streams in Southside Virginia. He has developed detailed training sessions for local students and teachers as a way to expand monitoring efforts and increase awareness of the need to protect water quality. He is a founding chair of Virginia Citizens for Water Quality Monitoring and a frequent speaker at schools, festivals, fairs and clubs. His work also includes coordination with Trout Unlimited and the Dan River Basin Association.

Education

Jennifer Weatherly, Sterling – Weatherly is a student at Dominion High School in Sterling. She established an environmental club at the school and organized students for a storm drain marker and awareness program. This effort led to her recruitment of local Girls Scout troops and students to carry out the program. As a result, there are more than 1,000 storm drain markers in the Sterling community. She was nominated by her environmental studies teacher, Mary E. Young-Lutz.

Individual

Dr. David Jones, Martinsville – Jones established the “Trout in the Classroom” program for local schools. He contributed personal funds and extensive time to place 18 aquariums in classes in Martinsville and Henry County schools, and an aquarium in the Virginia Museum of Natural History. He trained students and teachers in aquarium care, and has plans to expand the program to schools in the surrounding counties. Jones also is working with the museum to bring more staff and focus to the program in areas throughout the Commonwealth.


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From: Julia Wellman

Sent: June 26, 2007 at 1:03 pm