Kaine highlights adoption of stormwater regs

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine highlighted the adoption of enhanced stormwater regulations by the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board on Monday. The new regulations are expected to reduce the impact of polluted runoff from new developments into the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and other waterways in the Commonwealth.

“Today we mark a significant milestone in the protection of the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia’s rivers, lakes and streams,” said Kaine. “As we continue working to reduce the impacts of severe channel erosion and downstream flooding from new development on citizens and communities, we’re proud of the progress we’re making to ensure today’s policies correspond with today’s pollution challenges.”

The adoption of enhanced stormwater regulations will update requirements established twenty years ago and long-since eclipsed by new science and techniques that allow practitioners and engineers to retain and reuse water on site and incorporate stormwater management practices into the designs of many new developments—often reducing costs in the process.

The new regulations also incorporate several significant amendments made since the end of Virginia’s public comment period that address many of the key issues raised in the process. The amendments include:
– New grandfathering provisions;
– Additional offsite options (including a state buy-down provision);
– More flexibility for localities to address sprawl and to handle inspections;
– Recognition of the need for different standards for smaller sites and redevelopment and a different water quality standard for Virginia’s southern rivers from that of the Bay watershed.

Although new construction is not the only source of polluted runoff to the Bay, it is the fastest growing source. The enhanced stormwater regulations build on ongoing efforts by the Commonwealth to make improvements on pollution abatement by agriculture and sewage treatment plants.

The adoption of the regulations today marks the end of a four year process undertaken by the members of the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board and the staff of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. More than 3,400 formal comments—mostly favorable—were contributed by citizens during the public comment period. With the affirmative vote by the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board today, the regulations will undergo an additional 30 day comment period.

“I commend the Board and DCR for their untiring leadership in bringing Virginia to this point,” said Preston Bryant, Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources. “While I acknowledge that the work is not finished, I am confident that, once finally adopted and implemented, these regulations will provide real benefits to the quality of our waters across the state and bring us closer to the elusive goal of a restored Chesapeake Bay.”

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