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Official DEQ news releases.

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

Virginia provides water quality approval for Army Corps of Engineers wetlands permits

April 7, 2017

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447

RICHMOND, VA. -- The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has provided water quality certification for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 2017 Nationwide Permits.

DEQ, under the authority of the State Water Control Board, issued the final Section 401 Water Quality Certification as meeting the requirements of the Virginia Water Protection regulation. After having accepted public comment for 30 days and giving consideration to the comments received, DEQ found that there is a reasonable assurance that the activities permitted under the Corps' Nationwide Permit program, including the Norfolk District Corps' Regional Conditions, will be conducted in a manner that will not violate applicable water quality standards, provided permittees comply with all applicable Section 401 conditions.

Among the activities covered under the federal Nationwide Permit program are projects such as renewable energy generation facilities, living shorelines, aids to navigation, dredging, utility line activities, aquatic habitat restoration, and removal of low-head dams.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: April 07, 2017 at 12:37 pm

Governor McAuliffe announces Environmental Excellence Award winners

April 6, 2017

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447

RICHMOND, VA. -- Governor Terry McAuliffe has announced the winners of the 2017
Governor's Environmental Excellence Awards, which were presented this week at the Environment Virginia Symposium at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington.

The awards recognize successful and innovative projects in the categories of sustainability program, environmental project, land conservation and implementation of the Virginia Outdoors Plan. Located all around the Commonwealth and from several sectors, winners represent a variety of achievement benefitting Virginia's natural environment.

"The organizations recognized have proven their dedication to protecting Virginia's environment, and it is an honor to acknowledge their achievements," Governor McAuliffe said. "Their accomplishments can inspire others to reduce their own environmental footprint and preserve important landscapes."

The Gold Medal winners are:

-- Alexandria Renew Enterprises for its commitment to protecting public health and the environment through its Sustainability and Environmental Program, which uses innovative technologies to increase energy efficiency.
-- The Fairfax County Park Authority for the restoration and conscious management of Huntley Meadows Park Wetland, which has encouraged the return of rare species and growth in stewardship education within the community.
-- The James City County Department of Parks and Recreation for its exemplary implementation of the Virginia Outdoors Plan as demonstrated by the Freedom Park Multi-Use Trail.
-- The Piedmont Geriatric Hospital in partnership with the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation for their implementation of the Renewable Energy Program, which used locally grown warm-season grasses as a renewable feedstock to provide heat for both facilities.
-- The Town of Halifax for its exemplary implementation of the Virginia Outdoors Plan as demonstrated by the Banister River Blueway-King’s Bridge Landing Access project.
-- U.S. Army Garrison, Fort A.P. Hill, for its implementation of the Army Compatible Use Buffer Program, which protects undeveloped land surrounding Fort A.P. Hill including wetlands, streams, riparian forest buffer and open lands.

Award winners were chosen based on criteria including environmental benefit, stakeholder involvement, public outreach, transferability and innovativeness. The awards are sponsored by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. Additional information on the Governor's Environmental Excellence Awards is available on the DEQ website at

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: April 06, 2017 at 1:58 pm

DEQ will require additional individual 401 certifications for natural gas transmission pipeline projects

April 6, 2017

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447

RICHMOND, VA. -- In keeping with Governor McAuliffe's commitment that the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines will be constructed in the most environmentally protective manner, the Department of Environmental Quality has notified ACP and MVP that in addition to utilizing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers nationwide permit 12 for wetland and stream crossings, DEQ will be requiring individual 401 water quality certifications for each project.

These certifications will ensure that Virginia water quality standards are maintained in all areas affected by the projects. The public will have an opportunity to review and comment on these certifications and the conditions required to protect water quality. DEQ also will hold public hearings on the draft certifications. Once the comment period has concluded the proposed final certifications will be brought before the State Water Control Board.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: April 06, 2017 at 11:00 am

Virginia issues report on chemical releases for 2015

March 30, 2017

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447

RICHMOND, VA. -- Virginia industries reported 858.6 million pounds of chemicals managed on-site, transferred off-site or released to the environment in 2015, a 6.3 percent decrease from the previous year, according to the latest Toxics Release Inventory produced by the Department of Environmental Quality.

The overall decrease is due to a reduction in the amount of chemicals being released, transferred and managed on-site, such as through treatment or recycling. In addition, the report shows decreases in chemical releases to the air and land, and a 3.3 percent increase in releases to water. The water increase is mainly due to larger amounts of nitrate and ammonia compounds released by several industrial facilities.

"It is very encouraging that the decades-long trend of reduced releases of toxic chemicals to the environment is continuing in Virginia," DEQ Director David K. Paylor said. "These chemical releases are managed under a wide variety of environmental permits, which ensure that people and the environment are protected."

DEQ compiles information on hundreds of toxic chemicals released by facilities that are required to submit reports each year. The 2015 report, which contains the most recent information available, includes these findings:

-- 32.49 million pounds of chemicals were released on-site to the air, water and land.
-- 65.46 million pounds of chemicals were transferred off-site for treatment, recycling, energy recovery or disposal.
-- 760.7 million pounds of chemicals were managed on-site by treatment, recycling or energy recovery.

The report also includes data about releases of a group of chemicals known as persistent bio-accumulative toxics. These chemicals remain in the environment for long periods of time and can build up in body tissue. On-site releases of these chemicals totaled 223,108 pounds in 2015.

DEQ uses the TRI data to identify facilities for projects to reduce pollution at the source. The Virginia Environmental Excellence Program at DEQ 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 2015 TRI is available on the DEQ website at Information on releases from 2016 is due to DEQ this summer and will be available to the public in early 2018.

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: March 30, 2017 at 8:11 am

Virginia issues drought watch advisory for northern areas of state

March 22, 2017

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447

RICHMOND, VA. -- In response to existing conditions and to increase public awareness of the potential for a significant drought event, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has issued a "drought watch" advisory for the Northern Piedmont and Northern Virginia "drought evaluation regions."

The affected localities and public water suppliers in the Northern Piedmont region include Culpeper, Greene, Louisa, Madison, Orange, Rappahannock, Spotsylvania and Stafford counties, and the city of Fredericksburg.

The Northern Virginia region includes Arlington, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun and Prince William counties, and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park. In the Northern Virginia region, the drought watch advisory applies to public or private groundwater supplies or private surface water supplies in Fauquier, Prince William and Loudoun counties. Water systems using the Potomac River or Occoquan Reservoir are not affected at this time.

A drought watch advisory is intended to increase awareness of conditions that are likely to precede a significant drought event and to facilitate preparation for a drought. This advisory is being issued because drought watch indicators in the state's Drought Assessment and Response Plan have been met. According to the Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, an interagency group representing state and federal agencies, the primary factors contributing to the declaration of the drought watch advisory are:

-- Precipitation deficits since October 1, 2016, are 6 to 12 inches in much of the area.
-- Stream flows are lower than 75 percent to 95 percent of recorded March flows, indicating a moderate to severe hydrologic drought -- a period of below-average water content in streams, aquifers, lakes and soils.
-- Groundwater levels are lower than 75 percent to 95 percent of previously recorded March levels. New record low water levels for March have been recorded in two long-term observation wells in Fauquier and Orange counties.
-- The abnormally dry conditions experienced during much of November through February produced below-normal groundwater recharge that may negatively affect water availability during the summer months.

Localities in the Shenandoah, Middle James, Roanoke and Northern Coastal Plain drought evaluation regions also are advised to remain vigilant. Conditions in those areas are also near drought watch status, and drought conditions could develop into the spring and summer. Localities in these regions include:

-- Augusta, Clarke, Frederick, Page, Rockingham, Shenandoah and Warren counties, and the cities of Harrisonburg, Staunton, Waynesboro and Winchester in the Shenandoah region.
-- Albemarle, Amelia, Amherst, Appomattox, Buckingham, Chesterfield, Cumberland, Fluvanna, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, Nelson, Powhatan and Prince Edward counties, and the cities of Charlottesville, Colonial Heights, Hopewell, Lynchburg, Petersburg and Richmond in the Middle James region,
-- Bedford, Campbell, Charlotte, Franklin, Halifax, Henry, Mecklenburg, Patrick, Pittsylvania and Roanoke counties, and the cities of Danville, Martinsville, Roanoke and Salem in the Roanoke River region.
-- Caroline, Essex, Gloucester, King and Queen, King George, King William, Lancaster, Mathews, Middlesex, Northumberland, Richmond and Westmoreland counties in the Northern Coastal Plain region.

While public and private water supplies are in good shape at this time, conditions could deteriorate as the spring and summer seasons develop. DEQ is notifying all local governments, public water works and private-sector water users in the affected areas, and is requesting that they prepare for the onset of a drought event by developing or reviewing existing water conservation and drought response plans. Virginia is encouraging localities, public and private water suppliers, and self-supplied water users in the affected 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.

The next stage after a drought watch would be a "drought warning," which would be issued if conditions warrant. Drought warning responses are required when the onset of a significant drought event is imminent. Water conservation and contingency plans that already are in place or have been prepared during a drought watch stage would begin to be implemented. In accordance with the Commonwealth’s Drought Assessment and Response Plan, water conservation activities at the drought watch stage would generally be voluntary. This does not preclude localities issuing mandatory restrictions if appropriate. Statewide information on the current drought status is available on the DEQ website at

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: March 22, 2017 at 2:27 pm