Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

Welcome Urbie Nash to the FOSR Board of Directors

Urbie retired in 2007 after 34 years as a professional environmental engineer. He has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a master’s degree in environmental engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. During his professional career he worked in industrial and municipal water and wastewater treatment plant design, construction and operation. He also was a project and program manager on multimillion dollar EPA, US Navy and private contracts for the investigation and clean‐up of hundreds of hazardous waste sites. Most of his work experience was with large, multiple‐delivery order environmental programs that included technical analysis, environmental compliance, site characterization and investigation, remedial design, and remedial action services in the hazardous waste, solid waste, water, and wastewater fields. He managed and provided engineering expertise for feasibility and treatability studies, engineering design, construction, and operation of a wide range of industrial municipal and groundwater treatment systems.

Urbie has been heavily involved in professional and volunteer conservation organizations for 40 years. He is past president of the Shenandoah Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Past President of the Virginia Council of Trout Unlimited, and past member of the Trout Unlimited National Board of Directors and member of the National Executive Committee. He is also a past member of the State of Virginia Water Plan Advisory Committee, past member of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Department of Forestry and Wildlife Advisory Committee and past member of the Upper North River Water Plan Advisory Committee, past president of the Unitarian Universalists Fellowship of Waynesboro, past president of the Riverfest Committee and a member of the Invista Citizens Advisory Committee.

He presently serves as chairman of the South River Steering Committee, a group of local volunteers focused on restoring a trout fishery in the South River near Waynesboro, Virginia and on the executive committee of the Virginia Council of Trout Unlimited. He is also presently the chairman of the City of Waynesboro’s Stormwater and Flood Control Commission.

Good News for Friends of the Shenandoah Valley River System

In July, The South River Science Team sent out for review to its more than 100 members a draft proposal with the title “Remediation of Mercury in the South River and a Segment of the South Fork of the Shenandoah River.” Following review, the document will be submitted to NRDC and the Sierra Club to fulfill a consent agreement.  This agreement also required an extensive study, recently completed, of the consequences that mercury brought about for biota in the South River region.

NRDC and the SC would not enforce the remediation measures discussed in the proposal.   However, the proposal is significant for two reasons: it serves as a blueprint for an actual remediation program under RCRA regulations to be administered by DEQ and it also signals a major change in emphasis by the SRST.  Since 2001, SRST has focused its efforts to find out where, how much, and in what forms mercury exists in the South River environs.   Now “how to” has been added as a prime function and so engineers are playing increasingly more prominent roles.

The site conceptual model has quantitatively identified stream banks and floodplain sediments as the main sources of mercury to the South River.  The primary remediation tools are to be bank stabilization and carbon (biochar) adsorption.  Pilot studies have been undertaken to refine how and where these will be implemented.   Remediation will be conducted in stages.  The first will be the two-mile reach starting at the DuPont (now Invista) plant site in Waynesboro.

Short- and long-term monitoring will be key in assessing results and guiding future actions.  Adaptive management tools will govern the evolution of the remediation; risk analysis using Boolean mathematics will play a part as well.  Meanwhile, geochemical and biochemical studies will continue to see if they can supplement the primary tools.

The following task teams within the SRST have been formed this past year for the purpose of refining the remediation program:

• remedial options
• monitoring
• human exposure
• program integration of regulatory and legal drivers

Remediation design is scheduled for 2014; implementation commencement is scheduled for 2015.

The Friends of the Shenandoah River has been the citizens group most involved with the SRST since its inception in February 2001.  Meryl Christiansen began this association at the earliest meetings.  So FOSR members especially should celebrate the above developments to make our river healthier.  We have an additional benefit—the mountain of excellent research that is concentrated on the South River pretty much applies to the Shenandoah River as well!  Look at the website: http//  A password is no longer required.

Download Bob Luce’s presentation ( ROPS Update 7-17-13) to the FOSR board. All the slides (except the first) originated from talks by other South River Science Team members on July 16 and 17 in VADEQ Valley headquarters in Harrisonburg; permission to reproduce these for FOSR members.

~by Bob Luce

Support the 2013 FOSR Initiative

Lab Upgrades: 

To continue meeting the challenge of providing accurate water quality analysis, the FOSR lab and field equipment need to be upgraded. We recently added testing modules that measure total nitrogen and total phosphorous in response to new state and federal requirements for reducing these inputs. FOSR can become a vital informational resource for local government and watershed organizations to satisfy these requirements, if we have the resources to meet this demand.

Expanded Monitoring: 

Collect water samples at county boundaries during instances of peak flows to quantify nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment from the Shenandoah Valley to the Potomac River and to the Chesapeake Bay.

Staffing Needs:

Simply put, our staff of two can’t keep up with our data. We can collect and analyze it, but we don’t have the resources to assess, distribute, and present it. Our first new hires will be assigned the task of keeping all county stakeholders—including the FOSR membership—informed and up to date on “the state of the river”.

Educational Outreach:

Train new FOSR staff and provide them with professionally designed materials to take the FOSR message to area schools and organizations.

Overhauling the FOSR Website:

We’re doing great and admirable work, but more people need to know about it. We have undertaken this major overhaul of the FOSR Website, with more current and relevant data, and an aggressive inbound marketing and social networking effort.

. . . because the Shenandoah River is worth it. Please donate now.

Water Quality: A Report from Charles Vandervoort

Charles Vandervoort is a retired systems analylist and volunteer for the Friends of the Shenandoah River. His comprehensive report on water quality in the watershed pulls together data from the past decade to reveal a more accurate picture of the river today. Download the professionally formatted version of “The Status of Water Quality in the Rivers and Tributaries of the Shenandoah River Watershed“, a Shenandoah River water quality report by Charles Vandervoort.

Watch this short interview with Charles.


Water Monitor Training for Blue Ridge Watershed Coalition

Starting in 2008, several community meetings were held on the Blue Ridge of Jefferson County to help create a vision of these mountain communities in years to come. The meetings were well attended by approximately 350 mountain residents.

With the new Chesapeake Bay pollution diet restrictions (TMDL) looming, a loud consensus was heard from these meetings, “What is in the Shenandoah? And did we put it there?” Mountain community members are not known for agreeing on much, but this theme was heard throughout the community meetings. In April 2011, the Blue Ridge Watershed Coalition (BRWC) was formed to begin the arduous process of fixing 50-year-old problems that affect water quality in the mountain watershed.

A Governor’s Community Participation Grant was awarded to the BRWC with the help of Senator John Unger. With the grant, continuous turbidity meters were purchased to help with state of the art water monitoring of the Shenandoah and the Blue Ridge watersheds. The meters take continuous readings every 3 seconds with the help of laser. These readings measure the turbidity or amount of sediment in our sampling locations.

The Jefferson County Commission voted to match and surpass the $10,000 Governor’s grant to allow the BRWC to test 6 sites on the Blue Ridge mountain, and 3 sites on the Shenandoah River with training and analysis by the laboratory at Shenandoah University established and funded by the Friends of the Shenandoah River. The Friend’s lab and its protocol, run by Karen Anderson, is approved by the EPA making the BRWC’s results very valuable. The $15,000 match supplied by the County Commission will cover the training of water monitors, and the lab fees for one year. The monitoring project is funded through March of 2014.

Training has begun for the BRWC and some friends living on Elk’s Run in Jefferson County. Volunteers will have training completed and will begin sampling May 2013. With the data gained from the turbidity meters in conjunction with water level readings from the USGS gauge at Millville, the actual TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) will be calculated making Jefferson County one of the few watersheds in the Chesapeake Bay watershed that has an actual TMDL model based on fact, and not computer generated models.

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