Bay Journal

Sarah Vogelsong

Septic system failures expected to increase in coastal Virginia

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As sea level rise accelerates along the Chesapeake coast, an old threat to Virginia’s water quality may be rearing its head.

Failing septic systems have been a perennial problem in the commonwealth — one that led a soil scientist working on the Middle Peninsula to once christen Virginia the “septic repair capital of the East Coast.”

And when septic systems fail, pollution...

Elizabeth River chemical cleanup continues to make progress

For almost 70 years, the Elizabeth River in Portsmouth, VA, was the final destination for multiple streams of the oily, tarlike liquid known as creosote. A key ingredient used in wood preservation, the toxic chemical was as much a part of life in Norfolk as the industry that once relied on it to function: shipbuilding.

And nowhere was it found in greater concentrations than at the...

Hopewell’s revival strategy recognizes that all roads lead to the rivers

Nestled in the crook of the James and Appomattox rivers, the small Virginia city of Hopewell has for more than a century been synonymous with industry and pollution. But recently, ambitious efforts to address stormwater runoff and reconnect residents to nature are rewriting that familiar story.

“I feel like Hopewell is on the cusp of returning to its former glory,” said Ann...

Hampton Roads wastewater-to-aquifer recharge project showing results

One year after the highly anticipated SWIFT project came online in Virginia, its trickle of activity continues to swell.

The Sustainable Water Initiative for Tomorrow is an innovative solution to two problems that plague the Hampton Roads region: the need to cut down on pollution that flows into local waterways and the shrinking of the Potomac aquifer, the main source of water for...

Court overturns permits for transmission line built over James

Mere days after Dominion Energy powered up its new transmission line across the James River from Surry to Jamestown, VA, a ruling by a federal court of appeals cast the controversial infrastructure’s future in doubt.

On March 1, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued an opinion overturning the project’s key permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the...

Trump, Congress make Land and Water Conservation Fund permanent

The federal Land and Water Conservation Fund — which has supported dozens of projects in the Chesapeake Bay region — was made permanent on March 12, when President Trump signed the bipartisan bill doing so into law.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund has existed since 1965, but until now had to be periodically reauthorized by Congress. The new law makes those votes unnecessary...

New data from VIMS finds sea-level rise is accelerating in Bay

As sea-level rise increasingly becomes part of public discourse and the public agenda, the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences is ramping up efforts to provide reliable data for policy makers seeking to combat the changing circumstances.

“There’s a lot of resiliency planning going on looking at sea-level-rise projections, and we feel it’s important to know when we’re doing this...

James River grants to pay for riparian buffers, precision ag techniques

The Virginia Environmental Endowment is handing out the first round of grant funds in a multiyear program to benefit the James River — and “precision” is its key watchword.

“We were very deliberate about the way we were going to spend the money,” said VEE Executive Director Joseph Maroon. “We were hoping right from the beginning that the projects we would be able to select would...

Is nonnative red alga a friend or foe? It all depends…

Any newcomer takes time to size up. And when one makes its entrance as slowly and subtly as Gracilaria vermiculophylla — a red alga native to the Pacific — did in the Chesapeake Bay, it can be even harder to determine whether its introduction will be helpful or harmful.

Today, as Gracilaria has become widespread in Virginia waters, questions continue to swirl around it.


Young Atlantic sturgeon numbers surge in the James River

A bumper crop of juvenile Atlantic sturgeon in the James River this fall is raising some environmentalists’ hopes that the endangered fish may be staging a steady comeback in Virginia’s largest river.

“We’re starting to see real momentum to see a species come back, but also a river come back,” said Jamie Brunkow, riverkeeper for the James River Association.

This fall, as of Nov....

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About Sarah Vogelsong

Sarah Vogelsong is a staff writer based in Richmond, VA. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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