Review of Revised James River Chl-a Criteria and Assessment

This peer review panel was originally convened by the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) in fall of 2016 to provide an independent scientific review of two primary reports developed by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VA DEQ).  These two documents 1) outlined existing numeric chlorophyll-a criteria in the tidal portion of the James River, and 2) described a new proposed assessment methodology that the state of Virginia could use to evaluate attainment of these criteria, and determine if they are protective of designated uses.  This review was previously approved by STAC and published (Harris et al. 2016).  In response to that STAC review, the VADEQ engaged in new analyses and developed a revised approach which they documented in two completely new documents that are the subject of this second, subsequent effort.  The attached report, therefore, summarizes the panel’s findings and recommendations of this second review.

The body of this report is organized by each of three charge questions, and near-term and long-term recommendations are described.  Specific comments were once again made on the content, organization, and structure of the new 2017 documentation.  The recommendations identified by the review team can be summarized broadly below:

While the panel strongly feels the above concerns need to be addressed, reviewers were in agreement that this new effort from VADEQ is on a path that will lead to scientifically defensible criteria and assessment methods for the James River.