RD16 - 2013 Report on Toxics Reduction in State Waters
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) submits the annual Toxics Reduction in State Waters (TRISW) Report to the Governor and General Assembly of the Commonwealth on January 1st of each year, in accordance with Virginia Code § 62.1-44.17:3.
The primary objective of the TRISW Report is to document the Commonwealth’s progress toward reducing toxics in state waters and consequently improving water quality. This commitment includes three principal types of activities: (1) the prevention of contamination of the Commonwealth’s waters by toxics, (2) the continued monitoring of those waters for the presence of toxics and (3) the implementation of remedial measures to reduce and/or eliminate toxics found in the Commonwealth’s waters.
Permitting: Compliance monitoring, the monitoring of in-pipe concentrations of permitted discharges, is one essential element of the prevention of contamination by toxics of the Commonwealth’s waters. During State Fiscal Year 2013 (SFY13), DEQ’s Toxics Management Program (TMP) included 289 facilities with 755 outfalls that had active permit-defined toxics limits in their effluents, as recorded in DEQ’s Comprehensive Environmental Data System (CEDS) database. During SFY13, 286 facilities reported their discharge monitoring results. Among 8172 parameter specific Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs) filed during SFY13, a total of 107 (1.31%) violated permit-specified concentration limits. The vast majority of these were trivial, low-level violations for metals in the discharge stream at municipal wastewater treatment facilities: total recoverable Copper (72 = 67.29% of violations), total recoverable Zinc (31 = 28.97%), total recoverable Cadmium (1 = 0.93%), and Lead (1 = 0.93%). Only one single event violation was for an organic compound: 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzofuran (1 = 0.93%). Forty-six (42.99%) of the violations were short-term (one or two consecutive event) occurrences. Sixty-two violations (57.94%) occurred in six strings of seven to 12 consecutive occurrences, all for total recoverable Copper (four strings) or Zinc (two strings), only one of which was at an industrial facility.
Pollution Prevention: The 2013 Pollution Prevention Annual Report should be available on the DEQ Website at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/PollutionPrevention.aspx by January 1, 2014. Among the highlights of Pollution Prevention successes affecting reduction of toxics in state waters in the past year are the following:
• Virginia still provides performance-based permit fee discounts (from 2 to 20%) for “going beyond compliance.” In 2013, over $81,000 in fee discounts were distributed among Virginia Environmental Excellence Program (VEEP) facilities that implemented and carried out their Environmental Management System (EMS) plans. Environmental benefits from EMS plans contributed to the itemized 2012 calendar year summary in the annual P2 Report: 7.1 million tons of non-hazardous waste recycled, greenhouse gases reduced by more than 6,000 tons, hazardous waste disposal reduced by 119,000 tons, water consumption reduced by 2.6 billion gallons, use of hazardous materials reduced by 83 tons, and 487,000 tons of recycled materials utilized.
• A review of VEEP annual performance for 2013 reported a reduction of 83 tons in the use of hazardous materials and a decrease of 119,000 tons in hazardous waste disposal during the past year. Total water use was reduced by 2.6 billion gallons during the past year. The reduction of energy consumption continues to be a priority. Twenty-six E3 Technical Assessments carried out in south central and southwest Virginia totaled $784,000 in energy savings.
• DEQ’s Voluntary Mercury Reduction Initiatives also have been continued successfully. Almost 300 facilities now participate in the “Virginia Switch Out” Project for the recycling of automotive mercury switches. To date nearly 73,000 switches have been collected, equating to more than 164 pounds of mercury. Fifty-four facilities have accepted the “Virginia Fluorescent Lamp Recycling Challenge” and pledged to annually recycle over 54,000 energy efficient fluorescent light bulbs, which also contain small quantities of mercury. (Refer to DEQ’s Mercury Reduction Web Pages - http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/PollutionPrevention/MercuryReduction.aspx. )
Environmental Education: In the past, DEQ’s Office of Environmental Education (OEE) contributed to toxics reduction in various ways. On July 1, 2012, various components of OEE were transferred from DEQ to the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). During the most recent state fiscal year (2012-2013) the Virginia Office of Environmental Education (VOEE), at the DCR, managed nine state-wide programs: Adopt-a-Stream, Environmental Educators Leadership Program, Project Underground, Regional Environmental Education (EE) Teams, Stewardship Virginia, Virginia Naturally, Virginia Natural Resource Leadership Institute, Virginia Resource Use Education Council, and Your Backyard Classroom.
The 2013 Flora and Fauna of Virginia Environmental Education Conference, held at Shrine Mont in Orkney Springs, October 16–18, had 88 attendees. Thirty-six additional educators enrolled in the Environmental Educators Leadership Program during the past year, with 11 receiving special recognition. Three new Regional EE Teams were organized in the Richmond, Southern, and New River areas of Virginia, bringing the total number of teams to thirteen. There are now 1,291 Virginia Naturally partners, which is an increase of 166 from the previous year. The 14th class of the Virginia Natural Resource Leadership Institute began in the fall of 2013, with 27 participants. The Virginia Resource Use Education Council met four times this past year.
Project WET (Water Education for Teachers) at DEQ is an international organization whose mission is to reach children, parents, teachers and community members of the world with water education. In the past year 345 formal and non-formal educators have been trained in WET through a series of 6-hour workshops. These educators have learned about the state of Virginia waters, have gained a better understanding of Virginia watersheds, examined the impacts that humans have on our waters, and studied best management practices. Each of these educators received the Curriculum and Activity Guide 2.0, a full-color 592 page book with 64 multi-disciplinary water related activities, to use as they educate Virginia’s children. Additional information about Project WET can be found on DEQ’s website at: http://www.deq.virginia.gov/ConnectWithDEQ/EnvironmentalInformation/ProjectWet.aspx.
The Watershed Educators Institute (WEI), unique to DEQ, was established in 2010 with a three year B-WET grant from NOAA to train non-formal educators so that they may coordinate with formal educators on meaningful watershed educational experiences (MWEE) for students. DEQ has received another three year NOAA B-WET grant to continue this objective and build the network between formal and non-formal educators. The WEI consists of a series of ten one- and two-day workshops on a variety of water quality and watershed topics. A participant who receives 30 hours of training is formally recognized as a watershed educator leader in Virginia. In SFY13 twenty-one educators received recognition while over 65 participated in one or more workshops. The new WEI that started in October 2013 currently has 58 educators enrolled with 39 of those on track to be recognized. There is also a waiting list for every single workshop being offered.
Toxics Release Inventory (TRI): The Toxics Release Inventory documents the total quantities of EPA listed toxic compounds that are released annually to water, air and the land by permitted facilities within the Commonwealth. Changes in the quantities of toxics released are indicative of the effectiveness of pollution prevention programs, but are not an adequate or representative measure of environmental impact or impairment.
The most recent TRI Report is available on the DEQ Website at: http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Air/AirQualityPlanningEmissions/SARATitleIII.aspx. It summarizes data from calendar year 2011, during which 412 Virginia facilities filed 1,418 individual reports on the release, transfer, or management of TRI chemicals or chemical categories. Statewide toxic releases to the water totaled approximately 16.71 million pounds or 42.6% of the total onsite releases to all media during 2011. This quantity represents a 7.2% decrease compared to what was released to the water in 2010. Nitrate compounds (16.25 million pounds) represented 97.22% of all TRI chemicals released to water. Nitrates, however, are of much more concern for their effects as nutrients rather than as toxics. Toxics criteria for dissolved nitrates in drinking water were not exceeded during SFY 2013.
Water Quality Monitoring (WQM) Programs: Ambient water quality monitoring consists of the measurement of physical and chemical characteristics within the Commonwealth’s streams, rivers, lakes, reservoirs and estuaries. Ambient monitoring and assessment characterizes ecological stressors and evaluates their potential impact on aquatic organisms and other wildlife, and on human health and recreational use of Virginia’s waters.
Periodic updates and revisions of the agency’s WQM Strategy are necessary as part of the continual planning process within DEQ’s Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment (WQMA) Program. By 2008, the monitoring program had fully implemented two major changes in the 2007 WQMA Strategy that affected toxics monitoring and assessment: (1) the adaptation of the monitoring program to the newly delineated 12-digit, 6th Order sub-watersheds of the National Watershed Boundary Dataset (NWBD) and (2) the realignment of the monitoring year to correspond with the calendar year rather than the state fiscal year. Between 2002 and 2012, more than 98% of the Commonwealth’s 1247 small watersheds were monitored. A new revision of the Water Quality Monitoring Strategy, implementing changes required by the successive reduction of available resources between 2007 and 2012, was completed in 2013, and the agency is currently waiting for comments from EPA Region 3 and the general public.
Summer (Jun-Sep) of 2013 was the thirteenth year of DEQ’s Estuarine Probabilistic Monitoring (ProbMon) Program and the spring and fall of 2013 comprised the thirteenth year of its Freshwater ProbMon Program. Because of resource limitations, the sampling and analysis for sediment organic contaminants was suspended at freshwater ProbMon sites in SFY07. Sediment chemistry (metals and organics) sampling and analyses and sediment toxicity testing were continued at estuarine ProbMon sites during the 2012 and 2013 field seasons (SFY13 and SFY14) with resources provided by a probabilistic survey-targeted supplement to the federal §106 grant and DEQ general funds.
In the 2012 305(b)/303(d) Water Quality Integrated Assessment Reports (2012 Integrated Report or IR), sediment chemistry, sediment toxicity and benthic taxonomic results from DEQ’s Estuarine Probabilistic Monitoring Program were used for toxics-related “Weight-of-Evidence” assessments of Aquatic Life Use (ALU) at 300 estuarine sites sampled over the most recent six years (2005 – 2010). These results, primarily from minor tidal tributaries, complement those from the Chesapeake Bay Program’s benthic probabilistic monitoring program, which emphasizes the Bay mainstem and extensive mainstem areas of major tidal tributaries. More recent ProbMon results from a 2010 survey at 50 near-shore oceanic sites were also incorporated into the 2012 Integrated Report. An additional line of chemical evidence, based on the solubility of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) present in the sediment, was added to the weight of evidence assessment procedure in 2006 (analysis of 2005 data). The analytical data from the 2012 Estuarine ProbMon Program (SFY13) are included in the tables and folders of this TRISW Report. The Weight-of-Evidence assessments from the 2011 and 2012 estuarine surveys (an additional 100 sites) will be incorporated into the next Integrated Report, due in April of 2014.
DEQ’s Fish Tissue and Sediment Monitoring Program was revived in the summer of 2012 after having been suspended since 2009 because of limited resources ( http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterQualityInformationTMDLs/WaterQualityMonitoring/FishTissueMonitoring.aspx). In 2012, fish tissue and/or sediment samples were collected from 38 sites, primarily in the New River and James River basins (with special emphasis on the Elizabeth River). The sites were selected to gather supplemental analytical chemical data for the development and/or implementation of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for segments of water bodies which have been included in previous 305(b) Reports /303(d) Impaired Water Listings due to contamination of fish by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The results for the 2012 collections were received at the end of September, 2013. The data were evaluated for Quality Control, summarized, and sent to VDH as well as to DEQ’s 305(b) assessors and TMDL staff for their use after the results and accompanying QA/QC were confirmed (October/ November, 2013). Thereafter, results were posted online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterQualityInformationTMDLs/WaterQualityMonitoring/FishTissueMonitoring.aspx.
Twenty-three sites were sampled for fish tissue and sediment during the summer and fall of 2013, six in the Rappahannock River Basin and 17 in the Roanoke/Dan River Basin. These samples were frozen until the end of the field season and shipped to VIMS for analysis in the fall. Analytical results are anticipated for September 2014, and following QA/QC review should be available for the January 2015 Toxics Report.
Current plans are to conduct additional fish tissue and sediment sampling for PCBs in the Bluestone River of the New River Basin, the Shenandoah River, and in embayments of the tidal Potomac River during the 2014 field season.
Assessment and Remediation
Assessment: The 2012 Integrated Report identified 13,145 miles of impaired streams and rivers, 94,041acres of impaired lakes, and 2,128 square miles of impaired estuaries. Of those impaired by toxics, over 99% were listed for fish consumption advisories, primarily for PCBs (6% of impaired river miles, 66% of impaired lake acres, and 91% of impaired estuaries) or mercury (11% of river miles, 49% of lake acres, and less than 1% of estuaries). These figures will be updated with the completion of the next Integrated Report in 2014. Because the number of segments united into each Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) varies with the hydrography and the extent of the impairment, the exact number and schedule of toxics-related TMDLs to be developed and implemented is not certain. DEQ’s PCB Strategy (2005) established priorities for TMDL development and discusses various options for remediation. Analyses for the 2014 Integrated Report began in 2013, and any new PCB-impaired segments will be integrated into the Strategy. Changes in the prevalence and geographic distribution of contaminants included in the 2014 Integrated Report will be discussed in the next (January 2015) Toxics Reduction Report.
Remediation / Reduction: In April 2011 a TMDL for mercury in the North Fork Holston River was approved by EPA. Three additional toxics-related TMDLs were phased for completion in 2013: (1) Levisa Fork and Garden Creek of the Big Sandy basin – PCBs, bacteria, sediment, (2) Smith River watershed – potential PAHs (phased benthic), and (3) Powell River of the Tennessee basin - TDS, TSS, potential PAHs (phased benthic). A Phase II study was completed for Total PCBs in Levisa Fork and Garden Creek that resulted in no adjustment to the PCB TMDL. Additional source investigation will occur during implementation. While the Phase II study for the Powell River did not result in changes to the stressor (sediment) or actual TMDL, PAHs have been retained as a possible stressor. These studies and conclusion are pending approval from EPA. The Smith River stressor analysis has yet to be resolved due to factors other than toxicants that may be contributing to the benthic impairment. A Phase II study report will be developed upon completion of the stressor analysis.
PCB TMDL development initiated for the upper tidal James River and the Elizabeth River in 2009 has continued with periodic sampling for PCB source investigation and model calibration. Public meetings were held in December 2010 and January 2011. Completion of this extensive TMDL is scheduled for 2015.
The agency’s TMDL history, current status and development plans are available at http://www.deq.state.va.us/Programs/Water/WaterQualityInformationTMDLs/TMDL/TMDLDevelopment/DraftTMDLReports.aspx.
As these TMDLs are completed and scheduled for implementation, and others are added, follow-up monitoring will be initiated to evaluate their effectiveness in reducing toxic contamination. The effective implementation of these TMDLs should result in measurable reductions of contaminants in a number of the state’s watersheds within a few years.
A number of water bodies and/or segments previously listed for various toxics were recently removed from the 303(d) list (2012 Integrated Report) due to improvements in water quality. They are listed in “Appendix K.2 – Delisted Toxics-Impaired Segments 2012 IR.” This list will be updated following the submission of the next Integrated Report in the spring of 2014.
DEQ continues its commitment to toxics reduction by the prevention of contamination, continued water quality monitoring, and the implementation of remedial measures. The Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, the Pollution Prevention Program, and the Environmental Education Program in conjunction with other agencies, programs and stakeholders are working to promote public awareness, as well as to control and reduce toxics releases. The Toxics Release Inventory and various water programs constantly monitor and document the release to, and the presence and movement of toxics in aquatic environments. Close coordination between monitoring and assessment activities will identify new sources of contamination as they occur and document the effectiveness of load allocations and other remedial measures developed and implemented by the TMDL Program. The agency anticipates significant reductions of toxics in the state’s waters as a result of continued TMDL implementation.