State Water Control Board adopts new no discharge zones
These areas are impaired by bacteria and have shellfish beds that have been closed to harvest due to bacterial contamination.
The new designations as no discharge zones prohibit the discharge of sewage from boats and will aid in preventing further degradation and improving water quality. Boaters in these areas will be required to use pump-out facilities.
Based on Virginia Department of Environmental Quality recommendations, the Board also denied a request for a Virginia Water Protection Permit to withdraw water from Cranston’s Mill Pond on Yarmouth Creek in James City County.
DEQ reviewed the laws and regulations that lay out the responsibilities and process for evaluating a proposed withdrawal. A number of concerns were identified, including an unspecified beneficial end user and intentions to market the water to a third party, private user.
“The water resources of the Commonwealth are finite and DEQ has an obligation to conserve them with the public’s best interest in mind,” said DEQ Director David Paylor. “Beneficial uses and their water needs must be scrutinized carefully and must demonstrate that the proposed water withdrawal is reasonable, kept to a minimum need and fully protects aquatic life. We had concerns this request as proposed would not be in the public’s best interest and is inconsistent with state policy and regulations.
DEQ staff also provided the Board with its regular update on significant noncompliance issues and violations of the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act. Water Planning Division Director Jutta Schneider provided an update on two ongoing regulatory actions related to the water quality standards regulation:
A Notice of Intended Regulatory Action for numeric turbidity criteria was published on April 12, with a comment period closing on May 12.
A Notice of Intended Regulatory Action for a triennial review rulemaking to adopt new, update or cancel existing water quality standards was published on March , with a comment period that closed on March 31.
Next steps include the formation of regulatory advisory panels to assist DEQ with the development of proposed amendments to the water quality standards regulation. Proposed amendments are anticipated to be presented to the SWCB at their September meeting with a request to proceed to public comment.
Water Permitting Division Director Melanie Davenport gave a report on the Mountain Valley Pipeline project, which included an update on MVP’s application for a Virginia Water Protection permit to cross wetlands and streams.