A Look Back - Roanoke River Basin Association

Roanoke River Basin Association
Basin Bulletin
The voice for the development, use, preservation, and enhancement of Roanoke
River Basin resources.
A Quarterly Newsletter
Vol. 16, No. 1
Visit Our Website
Spring 2015
Also Visit Our Affiliate Websites
RRBA Upper Reach - www.upperreach.org
RRBA VA Coalition - www.readthereports.org
RRBA NC Coalition - www.rrba.org
Stay current with the latest news and schedule
of upcoming events.
A Look Back
By Andrew Lester,
Executive Director, Roanoke River Basin
For 70 years the Roanoke River Basin
Association (RRBA) has been on the front lines
protecting the water resources of the entire
basin which stretches from the Blue Ridge in
Virginia to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Look at some of the things RRBA has
accomplished: 1) Motivated the construction of
the first dams in the basin to protect the
downstream communities from flooding
which at the same time provided recreational
and tourist attractions; 2) Led the fight to
curtail and control inter basin transfer of water
resources from the basin; 3) Promoted the 216
Study to protect wetland and farming interests
downstream from Kerr Lake; 4) Set in motion
the creation of the Roanoke River Basin BiState Commission to protect and enhance the
basin; 5) Played a decisive role in 2013 in the
defeat of a proposal to lift the ban on uranium
mining in Virginia; 6) Created the Upper Reach
program (www.upperreach.org) to provide river
and lake access for all, including the
handicapped and wounded warriors; 7) And,
reacted quickly to the coal ash spill in the Dan
River. In addition, the association is taking steps
to not only see that the river's integrity is
restored, but through litigation, we want to
ensure that a spill like this never occurs again.
RRBA - 150 Slayton Avenue - Danville, VA 24540
[email protected]
All of these successes take money. RRBA is a
non-profit which depends on donations and
grants. When one considers the entire 410 mile
long basin, plus the major cities and military
installations in Hampton Roads which depend
RRBA is not a static organization. The challenges
the basin faces are growing and changing each
day. Uranium mining may be back on center
stage with the upcoming Virginia elections. Coal
ash issues are going to be a long term, complex,
costly pursuit. The basin is in need of more
public access which Upper Reach can provide
with sufficient funding. The bottom line is your river and lakes need
protection and improvement. Nobody else plays
the public service role that RRBA provides to
you. We've done it for 70 years and with your
help, we will continue as long as the river runs. Invest in an organization that gets things done. Invest in your water!
Bird Watching on
Kerr Lake
on the basin water resources, the number of
people RRBA protects is over 2 million.
And yet, donations from those who benefit is
minimal. Very few communities donate and
those donations are typically small. Quite
frankly, if each locality and affected organization
would invest a few pennies per capita, RRBA
would be sufficiently funded each year.
www rrba.org
With the onset of warmer weather and longer
daylight, now is the perfect time to enjoy bird
watching around Kerr Lake. Located in
Henderson, NC, in the Northeast Piedmont area,
there are seven parks that are part of the Kerr
Lake State Recreation Area. They are:
Bullocksville, County Line, Henderson Point,
Hibernia, Kimball Point, Nutbush and
Satterwhite Point Park. Crooked Run NC
Wildlife Management Area located on Hwy. 39,
Henderson, NC offers a natural and secluded
area for bird watchers. Two hundred and sixty
spices of birds are on the Kerr Lake Bird
checklist. Each park offers its own unique
opportunity for bird watching in pristine, natural
habitats. Visit ncbirdingtrail.org for detailed
information on each site and to plan your visit
Submitted by Nancy Wilson,
Executive Director,Vance County Tourism
Development Authority
Management Commission and any major
river basin transfer requiring such certification
mandates an EIS. An EIS would include a
comprehensive analysis of direct, secondary
and cumulative impacts resulting from the
transfer, such as to the 9 threatened and
endangered species (Atlantic Sturgeon,
Roanoke Logperch, Southern Bog Turtle,
Dwarf Wedgemussel, James Spinymussel, Tar
River Spinymussel, Small-anthered Bittercress,
Small Whorled Pogonia and Smooth
Coneflower) that are found in the source or
receiving basins. On the contrary, the
approved EA lacked any such concrete
analysis supporting its claim of no significant
impacts. The Clinic and RRBA board are thus
preparing their final comments on the project
(due April 30th), officially opposing the IBT
until a proper EIS is performed. future water demands in the receiving areas.
In January 2015, KLRWS submitted an
environmental assessment to the Division of
Water Resources, which issued a Finding
of No Significant Impact, thus forwarding the
Kerr Lake Regional
Water System InterBasin Transfer Request
The Duke Environmental Law & Policy
Clinic has been working with the Roanoke
River Basin Association on comments
regarding the Kerr Lake Regional Water
System’s (KLRWS) proposed inter-basin
transfer (IBT) project. The KLRWS seeks to
increase the transfer of water from the
Roanoke River basin to the Tar River, Fishing
Creek and Neuse River basins from the
grandfathered amount of 10 millions of
gallons per day (mgd) to a total of 14.2 mgd
by 2045 in order to meet projected
project to the public comment stage.
The Duke Law Clinic has found that the
Division of Water Resources incorrectly
allowed for an environmental assessment
(EA) to be conducted instead of a more
complete environmental impact statement
(EIS). In North Carolina, any IBT above 2 mgd
requires certification by the Environmental
by Emily Blanchard
Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic
by Olga Kolotushkina,
Advisor for Legislative & Regulatory Affairs
RRBA Executive Committee
Thanks to the efforts of a wide coalition of citizens, businesses,
municipalities, and organizations across the two states, we all got to
celebrate a victory
when in 2013 the
proposed legislation
to lift Virginia's
uranium mining ban
was withdrawn by its
sponsor in the
Virginia Senate
Committee due to
the lack of support.
Subsequently, then
newly elected
governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe vowed to veto any bill allowing
uranium mining in the state. Unfortunately, neither the victory in the
legislature nor the governor's commitment to keep the uranium ban
has eliminated the threat uranium mining poses to our water resources
and economy. The threat of uranium mining will exist for as long as
the Commonwealth of Virginia permits exploration for uranium. A
multitude of potential uranium deposits have been identified
throughout the Commonwealth, and most of them are located in the
Roanoke River watershed. Each and every one of these potential
uranium deposits may become of interest to a uranium company from
anywhere in the world. Next time the price of uranium spikes on the
global markets, our communities will be drawn into another uphill
battle to preserve our water and our way of life; and this threat of
disruption to our lives will exist for as long the Commonwealth of
Virginia makes it so easy for any company in the world to come in and
begin exploration for uranium without any prior notice to the public or
public involvement. Besides the fact that exploratory drilling by itself
poses lots of risks to water resources, exploratory drilling is what
would allow the next prospective uranium developer to raise capital to
finance the next fight to lift the uranium ban. In the Summer of 2013, the RRBA issued a report criticizing Virginia's
state regulator, the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, for
making it so easy and extremely inexpensive to obtain and perpetually
renew the permit for uranium exploration. The report noted the lack
of the comprehensive regulatory program and documented Virginia
Uranium Inc.'s violations of the few exploratory requirements that
DMME imposes and DMME's lack of oversight and enforcement of
those requirements. The link to the full report can be found on RRBA's
website in the Blog post dated July 2013. http://blog.rrba.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/FInal-Report-Review-ofUranium-Exploration-Permit-90484EX-Records.pdf
RRBA - 150 Slayton Avenue - Danville, VA 24540
Message from the
The RRBA was founded over 70 years ago when
a roundtable group of concerned citizens
advocated for the building of flood control dams.
At that time the Roanoke River was known as
the “river of death” due to the frequency of
devastating floods, loss of lives and damage to
the environment. Interestingly, since then we
have spent a lot of time working on mitigating
the fact that the dams exist. That is, striving to
keep the great resource as natural as possible and
fighting against any efforts that could adversely
impact both the supply and quality of water.
So, we say the water was a basic reason for
forming the RRBA and water remains the main
purpose of our organization.
Why water ?
As a result the RRBA is continually and
vigilantly engaged in strategies and actions to
minimize waste, pollution, contamination and
transfers of our water to other basins without
return. Over the years we have been consumed
dealing with IBT Requests, PCB and Mercury
contamination, the threat of uranium mining and
milling, and of course the latest spill of 39,000
tons of coal ash into the Dan River.
Then a few years ago a concept called the Upper
Reach Program developed and formed by
Director Scott Murray comes to us like a gift
from heaven, as it finally gives us the
opportunity to devote some of our time, money
and intellects to activities that are good for our
basin; and not solely fighting those things that
would be bad for our Basin. Please take the time
to visit the UR web site at uppereach.org to learn
more about activities like launch ramps, blueways, greenways, signage and mapping that
truly promotes the use and enhancement of basin
As usual all these activities require your support
and we will surely appreciate your response in
that regard. Visit rrba.org and join us in these
by Gene Addesso
President, RRBA
Perhaps you are aware that water occupies 70%
of the Earths surface. However only 2 ½% of that
water is fresh water and of that amount, 1 ½ % is
locked away in Ice Caps and Glaciers.
So, that leaves 1% to sustain all of us. When
water disappears, human misery starts so is it
any wonder we are dealing with a God given
resource that must be protected at all costs?
Other than surface waters we also need to
consider that the worlds ground water i.e.,
aquifers, are being depleted, and by 2020 it is
estimated that only a fifth of what we have now
will remain. Much of the problem in this regard
has to do with our insistence on building and
developing in natural flood plains.
So, it is no wonder that a tremendous amount of
time and money raised and spent by the RRBA
over the years has been used to fight actions and
threats that would endanger the ample supply
and quality of water in our basin. Clean water is
critically needed for the well being of citizens
who have traditional riparian rights to that
water. Ample supplies of clean water is also
needed in our basin for farming, economic
development, power generation, recreation and
RRBA - 150 Slayton Avenue - Danville, VA 24540
Kerr Dam – Section
216 Study Update
by Sam Pearsall
Director, RRBA
First, some background.
Section 216 study authorized by Congress in 2000
for USACE Wilmington District to study reporting
Kerr Dam to produce better environmental results
on Kerr Reservoir and in downstream ecosystems.
Study is now 15 years old and has spent
approximately $6 million of federal and state
money. USACE has concluded that the best option
for reporting Kerr Dam is the “Quasi-Run-of-River”
option previously discussed. Concerns about
impacts on agriculture were raised by USACE and
NC Departments of Agriculture and Environment
and Natural Resources. The Nature Conservancy
has effectively answered those concerns as reported
at the last meeting, with all but one farmer actually
joining a new association to promote adoption of
New Developments.
Federal and state funding for the 216 have both
been exhausted. USACE has dropped the Section
216 study and is now undertaking to simply amend
the Water Control Plan for Kerr Dam and Reservoir
(incorporating QRR) for approval by South Atlantic
Division in Atlanta. A schedule has been published:
• Monday 29 June – Wilmington District sends
completed WCP revision and Environmental
Assessment / Finding of No Significant Impact
to SAD for approval.
• Tuesday 14 July – SAD approves for release to
the public for review. We need to be ready with
lots of positive public input on tap.
• Wednesday-Friday 29-31 July – Public hearing
(actual date and location TBD) Save these dates
• Thursday 12 November – Final revision of WCP
submitted to SAD for approval
• Monday 14 December – SAD approval &
publication of Record of Decision
• USACE has agreed to provide monthly updates
on progress with this plan.
Excellence In
Partnership Award
Washington, D. C.: February 3, 2015: The
Roanoke River Basin Association’s Upper Reach
Program has been selected as the recipient of the
2014 U. S. Army Corps of Engineers national
Excellence in Partnership Award.
According to Edward E. Belk, Jr., Acting Chief,
Operations and Regulatory Division , Directorate of
Civil Works, the Roanoke River Basin AssociationUpper Reach Program was chosen “due their efforts
to provide ecotourism, recreational therapy, and
environmental education throughout the Roanoke
River Basin.” Belk further noted that the Roanoke
River Basin Association through “innovative
universally accessible canoe and kayak launch
project has created recreational opportunities that
empower communities to connect with the outdoors
through waterways.”
Scott Murray, Upper Reach Program Director,
stated, “This is a project we have been working on
for the last few years to specifically address the
recreational needs of our community, especially the
handicapped and the wounded warriors. So many
organizations and individuals are to be
congratulated on their efforts to make this project a
See Award on page 4
Roanoke River Basin Association
PO Box 61026
Raleigh, NC 27661
RRBA Mobile
Device Charger
With a donation of $100 or more you will
receive the HOTTEST idea that has hit the
market by storm. This item will help keep
you in touch with all of your most
important contacts when you’re away from
home or office and EVERYONE can use it including the kids.
What is ONE of the most important items you carry with you at all times?
Answer: Your cell phone! The item we are talking about is the “Power
Bank”. This small item will keep your cellphone charged wherever you
might be. Any time you are away from a power source for more than 3 hours
and need to charge up, the Power Bank will be there. Also included with the
Power Bank is a triple adapter cord that will charge every cell phone,
Samsung, iPhone and all other major brands.
Gene Addesso — President
Mike Pucci — Vice President
Anne Zeneski — Treasurer & Secretary
(also members of the executive committee)
Award from page 3
Gene Addesso, Roanoke River Basin Association President added that the
Upper Reach Program mission is an implementation of the Association’s
mission to protect the basin natural resources and support its wise uses.
The Association has long range, multi-million dollar plans for the furthering
of this mission according to Andrew Lester, Association Executive Director,
which includes the placement of 13 more access points in the basin in the
next two years.
Contact: Ms. Sara Jones, U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, 559-787-2589
Contact:: Scott Murray, RRBA-Upper Reach Director, 252-213-9501, [email protected]
Contact:: Gene Addesso, RRBA President, 919-870-0833, [email protected]
Contact:: Andrew Lester, RRBA Executive Director, 434-766-6727, [email protected]
Executive Committee
Angie Bezik — CommonHealth Coalition
John Cannon — VA Coalition
Greg Godard — Upper Coastal Plains COG
Olga Kolotushkina — Advisor for Legislative & Regulatory Affairs
Andrew Lester — Executive Director
Rives Manning — Lower River Basin
Scott Murray — Upper Reach Program
John Ryan — USACE - Retired
Nancy Wilson — Executive Director, Vance County Tourism
Public Relations
Andrew Lester eMail: [email protected]
ph: (434) 250-1185
- or -
Roanoke River Basin Association
150 Slayton Avenue
Danville, VA 24540
In Appreciation
We appreciate the countless contributions so many people have made over the years, both
in terms of money and time. We need your continued support. If you are a first time
member - welcome to the association - we need you. If you are a past member, thank you
for your continued support.
RRBA Annual Membership Form
Name: ________________________________
Title/Organization (if applicable):
Mailing Address:
City ____________ State ____ Zip _______
Amount Enclosed $ __________ (Checks payable to RRBA)
Return to:
Roanoke River Basin Association
P.O. Box 61026
Raleigh, NC 27661
_____ Individual Membership
(annual) $25 or $ 100 and receive a
mobile device charger.
_____ Organizational Membership
(annual) $100
_____ Additional donation to
support RRBA $______
As an IRS section 501(c)(3) organization, the RRBA is
eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. The
RRBA gratefully accepts donations above the standard
membership fees set forth above. Additional donations
will go toward supporting our educational effort on the
impacts of uranium mining.
Thank You For Your