RD261 - Status of Virginia’s Water Resources: A Report on Virginia’s Water Resources Management Activities (2014)

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, summarizes reported water withdrawals for the 2013 calendar year and provides an update on the Commonwealth’s Water Resources Management Program. The report also provides an overview of current climatological conditions and impacts on water supplies in the Commonwealth. Water quantity is the focus of this report. Water quality issues are addressed in the most recent DEQ biennial Water Quality Assessment Integrated Report.

Virginia’s estimated 52,232 miles of freshwater 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 22.5 billion gallons per day. The 248 publicly owned lakes in the Commonwealth have a combined surface area of approximately 162,000 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 during the 2013 water year has been generally normal to above normal across most of Virginia. Consequently, stream flows were generally within normal ranges and groundwater levels in Climate Response Network observation wells remained relatively high throughout the spring and summer. Water-supply storage reservoirs maintained water levels within or above normal ranges throughout the year. Southwestern Virginia, where abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions existed during the spring and summer months, was the exception to this pattern. Stream flows in parts of the Tennessee and New River basins were below normal ranges during the late spring and early summer months. However, reservoirs in these basins also maintained storage within normal ranges.

Management of the quantity of water resources across the Commonwealth of Virginia is coordinated by the Office of Water Supply within the Division of Land Protection and Revitalization of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The Office of Water Supply (OWS) consists of five programs: Ground Water Characterization, Water Supply Planning and Water Withdrawal Reporting, Groundwater Withdrawal Permitting, Surface Water Withdrawal Permitting, and Drought Assessment and Response. Additional information about the OWS programs can be found at Water Supply and Quantity on the DEQ webpage. Programmatic highlights of the Office of Water Supply during 2013 include:

• Monitoring of 68 real-time surface water discharge monitoring stations, 85 real-time groundwater stations and 140 additional wells, and 30 Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) surface-water data sites. (Real-time data are collected at 15-60 minute intervals and transmitted to viewable databases every 1-4 hours.)

• The Virginia Ambient Groundwater Monitoring Strategy document was developed in November of 2013. This document describes the current coverage of ambient (background) groundwater quality samples taken in Virginia and presents a strategy for collecting ambient groundwater quality data for the purpose of describing the current geochemical composition of groundwater throughout Virginia.

•·Borehole logging was conducted at 25 wells using geophysical and/or camera logging tools. Data from these logs were used to help bring non-permitted wells into compliance, to help document and describe groundwater resource conditions within the Commonwealth, and for more effective management of groundwater supply wells.

•·Public outreach and technical assistance activities regarding groundwater resources included teaching classes at the Virginia Water Well Association Annual Winter Driller Conference and Fall Field Day and the Virginia Department of Health Water Treatment Plant Operators Short Course, plus speaking engagements at numerous local groundwater related meetings.

•·A relational database was constructed to compile, organize and analyze the data submitted with the 10 Local and 38 Regional Water Supply Plans submitted in accordance with the Local and Regional Water Supply Planning Regulation (9VAC 25-780). Information from the plans was used to assist in preparing a draft of the State Water Resources Plan (SWRP).

•·Preparations were made to begin implementation of three new regulatory packages that became effective on January 1, 2014. These were: 1) the expansion of the Eastern Virginia Ground Water Management Area (9VAC25-600), 2) revision of the Ground Water Withdrawal Regulations (9VAC25-610) and (3) an Order Declaring the Eastern Shore of Virginia as a Critical Ground Water Area (9VAC25 - 620).

•·Issuance of 41 groundwater withdrawal permits.

•·Issuance of 8 Virginia Water Protection (VWP) Program permits (4 new, 3 modifications and 1 reissuance).

•·Continued management of the annual water withdrawal reporting program. For 2013, non-zero withdrawals were reported by 955 user facilities for 2257 withdrawal measuring points. The reported 2013 withdrawals exceeded 7 billion gallons per day for all use types, including water used for cooling at nuclear and fossil fuel power generation facilities. Excluding power generation, the reported 2013 withdrawals totaled approximately 1.2 billion gallons per day.