RD6 - 2014 Report on Toxics Reduction in State Waters


Executive Summary:
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), on behalf of the State Water Control Board, 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. That Code section requires the State Water Control Board to conduct ongoing assessments of the amounts of toxics in Virginia's waters, develop and implement a plan for the reduction of toxics in Virginia's waters, and report annually on those efforts to the General Assembly.

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. The Department’s efforts to reduce toxics include 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.

Prevention

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 2014 (SFY14), DEQ’s Toxics Management Program (TMP) included 294 facilities with 705 outfalls that had active permit-defined toxics limits in their effluents, as recorded in DEQ’s Comprehensive Environmental Data System (CEDS) database. During SFY14, 294 facilities reported their discharge monitoring results. Among 7348 parameter specific Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs) filed during SFY14, a total of 132 (2.23%) violated permit-specified maximum 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 (17 = 44.74% of short-term violations), total recoverable Zinc (16 = 42.11%), total recoverable Cadmium (2 = 5.26%), Lead (1 = 2.63%), and Chromium (1 = 2.63%). Only one single event violation was for an organic compound: Naphthalene (1 = 2.63%). Thirty-eight (28.79%) of the 132 violations were short-term (one or two consecutive event) occurrences. Fifty-seven violations (43.18%) occurred in seven strings of five to 11 occurrences out of 12 reports: total recoverable Copper (five strings), Zinc (two strings) - only one of which was at an industrial facility.

Pollution Prevention: The 2014 Pollution Prevention Annual Report should be available on the DEQ Website at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/PollutionPrevention.aspx by January 1, 2015. Among the highlights of Pollution Prevention (P2) 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 2014, over $197,000 in fee discounts were distributed among Virginia Environmental Excellence Program (VEEP) facilities that implemented and carried out their Environmental Management System (EMS) plans. This represented over a two-fold increase over the $81,000 in fee discounts of 2013.

• Based on the itemized summary in the annual P2 Report, environmental benefits from EMS plans included the following: use of hazardous materials was reduced by 84 tons, hazardous waste disposal was reduced by 1,935 tons, 288,748 tons of non-hazardous waste were recycled, non-hazardous waste disposal was reduced by 975,025 tons, virgin water consumption was reduced by 37.08 million gallons, recycled water use increased by 184.53 million gallons, and greenhouse gases emissions were reduced by more than 20 percent. This resulted in total cost savings of $77 million.

• DEQ’s Voluntary Mercury Reduction Initiatives also have been continued successfully. Two hundred ninety-six facilities now participate in the “Virginia Switch Out” Project for the recycling of automotive mercury switches. To date over 107,406 switches have been collected, equating to more than 236 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: DCR’s Office of Environmental Education (OEE) has contributed to toxics reduction with various activities. Educational programs reflect many types of experiences such as workshops, field days, and professional development of teachers and other educators. Events reflect contact time made through activities such as the State Fair, county fairs, and Earth Day special events. Self-guided experiences reflect activities individuals pursue for their own betterment at nature centers via self-guided walks and exploratory experiences. Technical assistance generally represents one-on-one consultations for conservation practices which can take place with homeowners, landowners, farmers, etc. Civic engagement activities can represent stewardship efforts such as trash clean-ups as well as citizen monitoring efforts for water quality. Environmental education includes elements in the prevention, monitoring, and remediation of toxics. Anti-litter and recycling activities reduce the introduction of toxic materials into our waterways. Adopt a stream programs provide insight into recognizing existing and potential sources of pollution and cleanup activities remove toxics from our streams. One of the most numerous items encountered in cleanup campaigns is cigarette butts, which are saturated with toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

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 Environmental Education 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 this fall with 27 participants. The Virginia Resource Use Education Council met four times this past year.

The Virginia Office of Environmental Education (DCR) has begun gathering information about state-wide environmental education activities based on the calendar year. This new collection strategy has been piloted with 15 organizations reflecting governmental and non-governmental education organizations.

To date, they have received reports from fifteen organizations representing an audience reach of 74,577 people via 1,066 Educational programs, Events, Self-guided learning and site visits, Technical Assistance, and Civic engagement (Service learning, citizen science, and stewardship) experiences. Three hundred eighty-six of these activities have been self-reported as Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences (MWEEs).

DEQ’s Project WET (Water Education for Teachers) 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 numerous 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’s waters, have gained a better understanding of Virginia’s 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 SFY14 twenty-five educators received recognition for participating in five or more workshops, while a total of 62 participated in one or more workshops. Objectives for the 2014-2015 period include (1) again offering the same eight workshops, this time in the northern half of Virginia, (2) holding the Virginia Association of Science Teachers (VAST) Professional Development Institute in Roanoke from November 20-22, (3) the Virginia Cooperative Extension participants of the WEI plan to present at their Annual Conference in Blacksburg on March 3-5, 2015, (4) three Project WET workshops are to be held in the northern, eastern and western parts of the state during late winter and early spring, (5) a tentative two–day Project WET facilitator training is planned to train volunteer instructors in February 2015, (6) two advanced training workshops (for those who have completed the basic workshops of the Watershed Educators Institute), one a two-part workshop on Climate Change and Flooding (in partnership with NOAA and VIMS/CBNERRS), plus planning workshops on “Stormwater Runoff and Water Quality”, “Microconstituents and Water Quality”, and “Groundwater/Water Supply”, particularly in regard to the coastal aquifer.

Toxics Release Inventory (TRI): Pursuant to the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA), the Commonwealth maintains a Toxics Release Inventory that 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 Virginia EPCRA Program is not a federally delegated program; therefore, it is strictly a federal program. The program was established to assist communities in emergency planning and response and communities’ right-to-know. The Commonwealth of Virginia does not have enforcement authority over the program.

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 2012, during which 419 Virginia facilities filed 1,442 individual reports on the release, transfer, or management of TRI chemicals or chemical categories. Statewide toxic releases to the water totaled approximately 11.76 million pounds or 35.99% of the total onsite releases to all media during 2012. This quantity represents a 26.62% decrease compared to what was released to the water in 2011. Nitrate compounds (8.12 million pounds) represented 45.86% 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 2014.

Monitoring

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 evaluate their potential impact on aquatic organisms and other wildlife, and on human health and recreational use of Virginia’s waters.

Summer (Jun-Sep) of 2014 was the fourteenth year of DEQ’s Estuarine Probabilistic Monitoring (ProbMon) Program and the spring and fall of 2014 comprised the fourteenth 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 have continued at estuarine ProbMon sites during the 2013 and 2014 field seasons (SFY14 and SFY15) with resources provided by a probabilistic survey-targeted supplement to the federal §106 grant and DEQ general funds.

In the 2014 305(b)/303(d) Water Quality Integrated Assessment Reports (2014 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 273 estuarine sites sampled over the most recent six years (2007 – 2012). 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. Chapter 4.5 “RESULTS OF ESTUARINE PROBABILISTIC MONITORING 2007-2012” of the 2014 IR summarizes the characterizations of all 273 estuarine ProbMon sites sampled during the six-year assessment window. The analytical data from the summer 2013 Estuarine ProbMon Program (SFY14) are included in the tables and folders of this TRISW Report. The Weight-of-Evidence assessments from the 2013 and 2014 estuarine surveys (an additional 100 sites) will be incorporated into the next Integrated Report, due in April of 2016.

During 2013, DEQ’s Fish Tissue and Sediment Monitoring Program collected samples from 23 sites, primarily in the Rappahannock and Roanoke River basins. 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 had 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 2013 collections were received at the end of September, 2014. 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, 2014). Thereafter, results were posted online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterQualityInformationTMDLs/WaterQualityMonitoring/FishTissueMonitoring.aspx.

Thirty-three sites were sampled for fish tissue and sediment during the summer and fall of 2014, eight in the New River Basin (PCB TMDL), 13 in the James River Basin (PCB TMDL), three in Potomac River embayments (TMDL investigation), and nine in the Roanoke/Dan River Basin in response to the Duke Energy coal ash spill. 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 2015, and following QA/QC review should be available for the January 2016 Toxics Report.

Plans have not yet been developed for fish tissue and sediment sampling during the 2015 field season. Regional TMDL Coordinators will request targeted TMDL monitoring with the preparation of the 2015 Monitoring Plan, due by the end of December 2014.

Assessment and Remediation

The 2014 Integrated 305(b)/303(d) Water Quality Report was submitted to EPA Region 3 in December 2014. The delay in submission was at the request of EPA Region 3, which hoped to resolve unsettled questions from the 2012 IR relative to algal blooms in the Shenandoah River, prior to evaluating the 2014 IR. In the absence of public comment and EPA approval of the 2014 IR, the following summary of assessment remains unchanged from that of the 2012 Report.

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: Although no explicitly toxics-related TMDLs were submitted or approved during SFY2014, several investigations into stressor analyses for benthic impairments and several PCB TMDL investigations are still under way. A number of draft TMDL Reports have been available for public comment over the past year ( http://www.deq.state.va.us/Programs/Water/WaterQualityInformationTMDLs/TMDL/TMDLDevelopment/DraftTMDLReports.aspx) , several of which were for benthic impairments and included evaluations of potential toxic stressors. In one case, for the Levisa Fork, Slate Creek, and Garden Creek, PCBs were of concurrent concern and in another, in the North Fork Powell, South Fork Powell and Powell Rivers, significant non- lethal effects of sediment toxicity were observed on juvenile mussels.

A Stressor Analysis Report for the benthic macroinvertebrate impairments in Holmes Run, Fairfax County, Virginia and Tripps Run, Fairfax County, Virginia, and the City of Falls Church, Virginia was completed in September and concluded that toxics, per se, were not indicated as stressors, although total dissolved solids and chlorides are still considered possible stressors. The report has not yet been submitted for EPA approval.

PCB TMDL development:

Elizabeth/tidal James River: A PCB source investigation study has been on-going in these water bodies as part of TMDL development. PCB point source monitoring was requested from those VPDES permittees identified as possible contributors to fish impairments. A more accurate accounting of regulated stormwater is also underway. The available information generated from these studies is to be used in the development of PCB loadings. The TMDL, which is scheduled to be completed in 2015, will establish PCB reductions needed to attain the fish consumption use of these impairments.
New River: The New River, beginning at the I-77 Bridge and extending to the West Virginia line, has been the focus of an extensive PCB source investigation study. The study was initiated in 2010 and has included several iterations of ambient river PCB monitoring within the impairment. Large tributaries such as Peak Creek have also been investigated. In addition, PCB monitoring of permitted VPDES facilities has occurred for which data are now available to develop PCB loadings and to set reductions. A PCB TMDL is scheduled for completion in 2016.

In addition, monitoring for future TMDLs in fish tissue impairments by mercury has continued in the Rappahannock, Pamunkey, Mattaponi, Chickahominy, James, Blackwater, Nottoway and Meherrin River watersheds.

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 the next few years.

A number of water bodies and/or segments previously listed for various toxics were recently completely or partially delisted from the previous 303(d) list (2012 Integrated Report) due to improvements in water quality or reduction of fish tissue contamination. They are listed in “Appendix K.2 – Delisted Toxics-Impaired Segments 2012 IR.” This list will be updated following the submission (Dec 15, 2014) and approval of the 2014 Integrated Report.

Continued Commitment

DEQ continues its commitment to toxics reduction by the prevention of contamination, continued water quality monitoring to detect contamination by toxics, 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.