RD212 - 2012 Report on the Status of Virginia’s Water Resources: A Report on Virginia’s Water Resources Management Activities

Executive Summary:
This annual report, submitted to the Governor and the Virginia General Assembly in accordance with § 62.1-44.40 of the Code of Virginia, describes the status of the Commonwealth’s surface and groundwater resources, provides an overview of climatological conditions and impacts on water supplies in the Commonwealth, and provides an update on the Commonwealth’s Water Resources Management Program for the calendar year 2011, as well as an update regarding current 2012 conditions. Water quantity is the focus of this report. Water quality issues are addressed in the State’s Water Quality Assessment Report which can be found at:


Virginia’s estimated 52,232 miles of streams and rivers are part of nine major watersheds. Annual state-wide rainfall averages almost 43 inches. The total combined flow of all freshwater streams in the state is estimated at about 25 billion gallons per day. The 248 publicly owned lakes in the Commonwealth have a combined surface area of 130,344 acres. Additionally, many hundreds of other small privately owned lakes and ponds are distributed throughout the state. Other significant water features of Virginia include approximately 236,900 acres of tidal and coastal wetlands, 808,000 acres of freshwater wetlands, 120 miles of Atlantic Ocean coastline, and more than 2,300 square miles of estuaries. A summary of Virginia’s surface water resources is provided in Appendix 1.

Precipitation in Virginia during the 2011-2012 water year (October 1, 2011 through September 30, 2012) has been variable spatially and generally below normal in many locations within the eastern half of the Commonwealth. Consequently, stream flows within many of the basins located in this part of the state have been lower than normal. Abnormally dry conditions, with subsequent low stream flows, have persisted particularly in the middle part of the James River basin and in the Chowan River basin.

Ground water levels west of I-95 and in shallow aquifers east of I-95 generally align with surface water levels. However, water levels in confined aquifers within the Atlantic Coastal Plain continued to decline. In the Franklin area, this decline was temporarily reversed by the shutdown of the International Paper Franklin mill during 2011. This mill, however, reopened in June of 2012; consequently ground water levels in this area began to return to pre-2011 levels.

The Office of Water Supply is a part of the Water Division of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The Office currently consists of three programs, including Groundwater Characterization, Water Supply Planning, and Water Withdrawal Permitting (See Section III for summaries of programs). The Office of Water Supply collaborates with other state and federal programs to support local water resources planning. Programmatic highlights of the Office of Water Supply during 2011 include:

• Monitoring of 74 surface water stations, 77 real-time ground water stations and 178 additional wells, and 30 Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) data sites (Section III.A.)

• Three new real-time ground-water monitoring well clusters were added to the monitoring network in Bedford County, New Kent County and in Northumberland County (Section III.B.)

• Two groundwater resource reports (Groundwater Resources of the Blue Ridge Geologic Province and Groundwater Use in the Virginia Portion of the Shenandoah Valley) are anticipated for publication in September of 2012 (Section III.B.)

• The Ground Water Completion Report database was expanded by adding nearly 21,000 digital water well records (Section III.B.)

• Teaching and speaking engagements at six ground water-related educational events (Section III.B.)

• Receipt of and commencement of the review for 38 regional water supply plans and 10 local water supply plans (Section III.C.)

• Development of a new web-based data management tool to facilitate compilation and review of data submitted with water supply plans (Section III.C.)

• Continued work with the State Water Plan Advisory Committee to assist DEQ in developing, revising, and implementing the state water resources plan (Section III.C.)

• Issuance of 39 ground water withdrawal permits (17 new or expanded, 20 renewals, 2 modifications (Section III.D.)

• Issuance of 13 Virginia Water Protection (VWP) Program permits (6 new, 7 modifications) (Section III.D.)

• Acknowledgement that public water supplies continue to account for the greatest percentage of the total water use in Virginia (Section IV)

• Observation of continued demands on surface and ground water resources (Section V)

• Development of a plan to incorporate new hydrogeologic information on the coastal plain aquifer system into the ground water withdrawal permitting regulatory process used to evaluate the impacts of existing and proposed ground water withdrawals within the Coastal Plain and Eastern Shore regions (Section VI)

• The proposed expansion of the Eastern Virginia Ground Water Management area to include the counties in the Northern Neck region of the Virginia Coastal Plain (Section VI)

• Development of new statistical tools to predict summer low flows in streams based upon rainfall and stream flow monitoring data collected during the previous winter (Section VI)

Virginia’s public health, environment, and economic growth depend on the availability of quality water resources. To assure water resources are available for future generations and the continued growth of Virginia, effective water resource management must continue to be premised on a process that improves the quality and quantity of water available to the Commonwealth.