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Official DEQ news releases.

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

Drought watch issued for Roanoke River basin

September 15, 2015

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 Roanoke River basin.

Lack of sufficient rainfall and above-average temperatures have continued to cause drought impacts for the area.

The affected localities and public water suppliers include Patrick, Franklin, Roanoke, Henry, Bedford, Pittsylvania, Campbell, Halifax, Charlotte and Mecklenburg counties and the cities of Danville, Martinsville, Roanoke and Salem in the Roanoke River basin.

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, 2014, are 6 to 12 inches in much of the Roanoke River basin.
-- Stream flows are lower than 90 percent of recorded flows, indicating a moderate to severe hydrologic drought -- a period of below-average water content in streams, reservoirs, aquifers, lakes and soils.
-- Groundwater levels are lower than 75 percent to 90 percent of previously recorded levels.
-- According to the National Weather Service, dry conditions may continue, with a likelihood of less than normal rainfall through the remainder of September.

DEQ is sending notifications to all local governments, public water works and private sector water users in the affected area, and is requesting that they prepare for the onset of a drought event by developing or reviewing existing water conservation and drought response plans. Through the drought watch advisory, Virginia is encouraging localities, public 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 have been prepared during a drought watch stage would begin to be implemented.

From the perspective of the Commonwealth, water conservation activities at this 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: September 15, 2015 at 9:31 am

Proposed consent order addresses Honeywell violations

RICHMOND, VA. -- The Department of Environmental Quality is proposing a consent order that addresses violations of water discharge permit conditions at Honeywell’s Hopewell manufacturing facility. The public will be able to comment on the proposed order through September 23, 2015.

The order addresses violations for water quality monitoring and reporting, and releases of chemicals and other materials used by Honeywell: nitric acid, hydroxylamine, methyl ethyl ketoxime, methyl ethyl ketone, ammonium carbonate, caprolactam, cyclohexanone, oil, hydraulic fluid and gasoline. The proposed order includes a $300,000 penalty and requires Honeywell to inspect, repair or replace process sewers at the facility that, due to their deteriorated condition, allowed the release of wastewater into the James River.

One of the most recent spills occurred in November 2014 and resulted in a kill of more than 2,000 fish in Gravelly Run, a tributary of the James River.

To prevent future releases, Honeywell is required to address defects in sumps, trenches and the facility’s sewer system. The cost of corrective action required by the order is estimated to exceed $13 million. In addition to the proposed enforcement action, DEQ and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are coordinating to address natural resource damages caused by past spills.

DEQ has issued 14 enforcement orders to Honeywell since 1990. In addition, a joint consent decree by DEQ and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was issued to Honeywell in 2013 for air quality violations.

Focusing on corrective action, the proposed consent order requires Honeywell to complete substantial facility upgrades in accordance with a schedule of compliance to improve water quality monitoring and reduce releases at the facility. The State Water Control Board will make a final decision on the consent order at its meeting October 1, 2015.

The proposed consent order is available on the DEQ website at

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: August 24, 2015 at 9:44 am

Virginia holds informal comment period on Clean Power Plan

August 13, 2015

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447

RICHMOND, VA. -- The Department of Environmental Quality has announced an informal public comment period on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Clean Power Plan. The comment period will be August 13 through October 13, 2015.

The plan has been established to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants that generate electricity from fossil fuels. These new EPA rules may have a significant impact on the Commonwealth. Therefore, before taking any formal action, DEQ is seeking input from the public on the best way to implement the emission guidelines for existing power plants.

DEQ is interested in identifying and collecting input from vulnerable and overburdened communities. These communities include low-income communities, communities of color, areas where people are most vulnerable to climate change, and communities where economies may be affected by changes in the utility power and related sectors.

Comments may be emailed to, faxed to (804) 698-4510, or sent by postal mail to the Air Division, Department of Environmental Quality, P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA 23218. There is no formal DEQ proposal available for comment at this time, and DEQ will not provide a response to comments.

DEQ also will meet informally with the public at a series of listening sessions around the state. The only topic under consideration will be the plan for existing power plants, and there will be no formal presentations from DEQ. The dates and times of these listening sessions will be announced soon.

More information is available on the DEQ website at:

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: August 13, 2015 at 2:29 pm

Virginia issues solid waste report for 2014

June 30, 2015

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 2014, and the amounts and sources of solid waste generated outside the Commonwealth.

The total amount of solid waste received at Virginia facilities during 2014 decreased by about 15,000 tons from 2013. 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 was about the same at 5.2 million tons. The total amount from within Virginia remained at about 15 million tons.

Other findings of the report include:

-- Of the 20.2 million tons of solid waste reported in 2014, about 12.4 million tons were municipal solid waste, which is trash from households and businesses.

-- The total amount of municipal solid waste generated outside Virginia was about 3.6 million tons, roughly the same as in 2013. Maryland, New York, Washington, D.C., North Carolina and New Jersey accounted for 98.4 percent of all waste received from out-of-state sources.

-- Of the total solid waste reported in 2014, about 3.9 million tons were construction and demolition debris.

-- Of the total solid waste managed in Virginia in 2014, about 12.2 million tons were disposed of in landfills, and about 2.2 million tons 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 30, 2015 at 10:06 am

State Water Resources Plan open for public comment

April 7, 2015

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447

RICHMOND, VA. – The Virginia Water Resources Plan, the Commonwealth’s first comprehensive effort to incorporate information from locally developed water supply plans, is available for public review and comment, the Department of Environmental Quality announced today.

“This plan helps guide localities as they make decisions about their water supplies and helps in the management of the Commonwealth’s water resources on local, watershed, and statewide levels,” DEQ Director David K. Paylor said.

The water resources plan is a compilation of the information from local plans, and includes an analysis of how future water demand may affect key water uses. Among the main components of the plan are an extensive look at surface water and groundwater sources, and an assessment of the capacity of these sources to meet the projected water demand to 2040.

The plan outlines water supply challenges in Virginia and identifies recommendations to address these challenges. Recommendations include:

• Development of rules for surface water withdrawals and impoundment releases that are currently excluded from Virginia Water Protection permitting requirements.
• Expansion of groundwater monitoring wells in localities outside the eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area to improve understanding of the groundwater resource and how pumping affects the aquifer.
• Increased emphasis on conservation efforts by localities to reduce demand.

The plan will be open for public comment through May 8, 2015, and is available on the DEQ website at Written comments to DEQ should be submitted to Tammy Stephenson, P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA 23218, or by email at

From: Bill Hayden

Sent: April 07, 2015 at 11:12 am