A coalition of 32 environmental groups is urging the State Water Control Board to reject a Virginia DEQ proposal that would authorize discharges from thousands of sites across the state each year.
The proposed Construction Stormwater General Permit is the latest version of a permit that has been issued in Virginia for the past 30 years. Critics of the DEQ say the result has been decades of sediment and other pollutants going into waters as runoff from development.
“We have raised these issues consistently, since early 2022, when this permit review began. DEQ has consistently refused to confront them,” said David Sligh, the conservation director at Wild Virginia, a Charlottesville-based environmental advocacy nonprofit.
“We asked for any information that would back up their assumptions about effects on water quality – they provided none. Now it is up to our fellow citizens on the State Water Control Board to insist that DEQ change course. Will they allow more decades to pass before this flawed regulatory system is fixed?” Sligh said.
Construction activities are one of the most prominent sources of sediment running into water sources.
To that point, construction sites cover just 0.2 percent of the Chesapeake Bay watershed in an average year; but they contribute 16 percent of the sediment load that has degraded the Bay’s quality.
Virginia DEQ and the State Water Control Board are supposed to ensure that these discharges will not violate water quality standards required under the Clean Water Act and state law.
DEQ is supposed analyze data on the quality of water discharged and effects on the streams. But DEQ failed to do this basic analysis, its critics allege.
Instead, officials state that DEQ “expects” that waters will be protected, but provide no basis for this expectation.
“Wild Virginia and our allies will continue to insist that the authorities charged with protecting us and our waters take effective action. The time for them to act is now,” Sligh said.