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Official DEQ news releases.

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

Virginia, localities monitor drought conditions

July 25, 2007
Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447

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


From: Julia Wellman

Sent: July 25, 2007 at 2:44 pm

Virginia announces water supply grants for localities

July 17, 2007

Julia Wellman
(804) 698-4399

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


From: Julia Wellman

Sent: July 17, 2007 at 12:53 pm

2007 Environmental Stewardship Awards announced

June 26, 2007

Julia Wellman
(804) 698-4399

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


From: Julia Wellman

Sent: June 26, 2007 at 1:03 pm

Fish kills diminish in Virginia rivers; Investigation narrows focus on possible causes

June 15, 2007
Contact:Bill Hayden, DEQ
(804) 698-4447

Gwen Dean, DGIF
(804) 367-2225

RICHMOND, VA. -- Fish kills that have affected the Shenandoah, James, Cowpasture and Maury rivers this spring apparently are abating, investigators announced today. This matches the pattern seen in similar fish kills on the North and South Forks of the Shenandoah that began in 2004.

Fish collections this week from the affected rivers have shown fewer problems than those taken earlier in the season, and reports from citizens have been declining. Though scientists have not confirmed any causes of the fish kills, the investigation is making progress and is now concentrating on several key areas.

The Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries are coordinating the fish kill investigation. Numerous studies are under way to narrow the focus of possible causes of the fish illnesses and deaths. The current investigation includes:

• An expanded advisory group of scientists to include areas such as fisheries, fish diseases, microbiology, chemistry and agriculture to provide additional expertise for the investigation. DEQ and DGIF expect the panel to be in place in July.

• Analysis of the chemical makeup of agricultural waste streams in the river watersheds. Many of the water quality tests so far have been evaluations of river water and have focused specifically on nutrients and ammonia, which are normally associated with agricultural waste. A plan is under development for expanded, comprehensive testing of waste streams and sources connected with agricultural land uses, with assistance from the Department of Conservation and Recreation. That information will be compared with chemicals found in fish tissue, sediments and water in the fish kill areas.

• Continued evaluation of viruses, bacteria and parasites. This is being coordinated with work by the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service disease laboratory, and Cornell University. Also, numerous fish collected this spring are being saved for further analysis, after additional chemical information comes in from water quality and agricultural samples.

Anyone with information about the fish kills is asked to call 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 Detailed information about the fish kills is available on the DEQ website at and the DGIF website at


From: Julia Wellman

Sent: June 15, 2007 at 3:21 pm

Virginia issues solid waste report for 2006

June 13, 2007

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 2006, and the amounts and sources of solid waste generated outside the Commonwealth.

The total amount of solid waste received at Virginia facilities during 2006 increased by about 162,500 tons from 2005. 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 increased by about 248,000 tons (3.5 percent) from a little more than 7 million tons to about 7.3 million tons. The total amount from within Virginia decreased by 85,000 tons (0.5 percent), remaining around 17.9 million tons.

Other findings of the report include:

• Of the nearly 25 million tons of solid waste reported in 2006, about 16.8 million tons (66.7 percent) were municipal solid waste, which is trash from households and businesses.

• The total amount of municipal solid waste generated outside Virginia was 5.7 million tons, an increase of about 35,000 tons (0.6 percent). Maryland, New York, Washington, D.C., North Carolina and New Jersey accounted for 96.4 percent of all waste received from out-of-state sources.

• Of the total solid waste reported in 2006, construction and demolition debris accounted for about 17.3 percent of the total.

• Of the total solid waste managed in Virginia in 2006, about 17 million tons (81.4 percent) were disposed of in landfills, about 2.1 million tons (10.2 percent) were incinerated and the rest was managed by other means, including mulching and recycling.

The full solid waste report is available on the DEQ web site at


From: Julia Wellman

Sent: June 13, 2007 at 11:38 am