Virginia’s Stormwater Regulations: Consolidation Process Overlaps with the 2024 Construction General Permits

Reprinted with permission from Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc.; originally published on February 14, 2024 at https://www.wetlands.com/va-stormwater-update-feb2024 and updated February 23, 2024 when the Virginia State Water Control Board approved the new VPDES Construction General Permit.
Virginia is in the final stages of its efforts to consolidate regulations, issue a new stormwater management handbook, revise the Virginia Runoff Reduction Method (VRRM) spreadsheet, and issue new Construction and Industrial General Permits. Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc. (WSSI) staff are involved in the update processes and are evaluating the implications for your projects and operations. Read more to learn about the current issues and steps for you to take now to address the changes.

Regulation Consolidation (2016 – 2024)

The 2016 Virginia General Assembly directed the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) under the Virginia Erosion and Stormwater Management Act (VESMA) to consolidate the Commonwealth’s erosion & sediment control and stormwater management regulations. The Regulatory Advisory Panel, on which WSSI staff participated, first convened in 2019. The goal was to encourage environmentally-responsible land disturbance practices in Virginia by reducing confusion, redundancy, and conflicts between two closely associated sets of regulations. The State Water Control Board approved the resulting replacement section of regulation, the Virginia Erosion and Stormwater Management (VESM) Regulation, in 2023 and it will be effective on July 1, 2024 (see our June 29, 2023 Field Notes article).

A New Handbook to Replace a Shelf's Worth of Handbooks1709677105249.png

New regulations will be most effective with guidance, so DEQ has also been working with a Stakeholder Advisory Group (in which WSSI staff participated) to create the Virginia Stormwater Management Handbook, v1.0. The new handbook replaces several predecessors, including the Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook (1992) and Virginia’s Stormwater Management Handbook (1999). The new handbook covers the regulatory changes in water quality and quantity criteria. It also addresses ESC and SWM-related technological advances and an array of new practices available to support compliance with the regulations in the field.

DEQ released a draft of the handbook on February 5, and a 30-day public comment period begins February 26. Director Rolband’s January 29, 2024 Guidance Memo (GM24-2001) has the information and links to access the draft. DEQ’s Stormwater Handbook page also has the links and related information.

Changes for Local Authorities

One major change stemming from this regulatory action is the creation of Virginia Erosion and Stormwater Management Program (VESMP) authorities. These Programs replace the individual Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control Program (VESCP) authorities and Virginia Stormwater Management Program (VSMP) authorities. DEQ’s December 27, 2023 memo provided guidance for local program administrators, including a model ordinance. Localities are required to update their ordinances to comply with these changes by July 1, 2024.

The Revised VRRM Spreadsheet (Water Quality Calculator)

DEQ has also been working on a new version of the Virginia Runoff Reduction Method (VRRM) spreadsheet that is used to demonstrate compliance with water quality requirements for stormwater runoff. DEQ released the new VRRM spreadsheet (version 4.1) concurrently with the new SWM Handbook and it is open for public comment in the same timeframe, February 26 to March 27, 2024. In addition to changing how phosphorus loading is calculated and the overall limit, this new version also introduces a new landcover category and some new BMPs. It can be used in conjunction with the new Stormwater Management Handbook starting July 1, 2024. The updated spreadsheets and guidance memo along with DEQ’s documentation on these changes are available on their website: https://www.deq.virginia.gov/our-programs/water/stormwater/stormwater-construction/guidance-vrrm.

A Reminder About Stormwater Discharge Permit Renewals

As we mentioned in our December 2023 Field Notes article, Virginia’s VPDES Permit for Discharges of Stormwater from Construction Sites (also known as the Construction General Permit) begins a new five-year permit cycle on July 1, 2024. Any projects that have coverage under the current (2019-2024) permit will need to resubmit a registration statement prior to April 1, 2024 to continue coverage under the new (2024-2029) permit.

The VPDES Permit for Discharges of Stormwater from Industrial Activities also begins a new cycle on July 1, 2024. Registration statements to continue coverage under this general permit are due May 1, 2024.

WSSI will be contacting our current Stormwater Discharge Permit clients who have projects active under the current Construction GP and Industrial GP to ensure continuity and compliance in your coverage. We anticipate DEQ will release the final permit language soon and we will then be able to move forward. (February 23, 2024 update: Virginia’s State Water Control Board approved the new VPDES CGP.)

WSSI Will Continue to Monitor

WSSI will continue to monitor the stormwater regulation changes and will provide updates via Field Notes. If you have questions about implications for your current or upcoming projects, please contact your WSSI project manager or the staff listed below.

Resources:
  1. Merge Ahead: The Future of Virginia Erosion & Sediment Control and Stormwater Regulations (Field Notes, November 21, 2019)
  2. Virginia’s State Water Control Board Adopts Consolidated Stormwater Regs (Field Notes, June 29, 2023)
  3. DEQ Director Rolband’s January 29, 2024 Guidance Memo (GM24-2001)
  4. DEQ memo: Virginia Erosion and Stormwater Management Program and Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control Program Model Ordinances (December 27, 2023)
  5. 2024 VPDES Construction General Permit on the Horizon, as VA DEQ Reminds Permittees (Field Notes, December 7, 2023)
  6. DEQ News Release: State Water Control Board Holds Regular Meeting (February 23, 2024)
Contacts:
Note: The above image has been reproduced with permission from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.
 
Location
Virginia, United States
I believe the old adage is that, "A picture is worth a thousand words.” Well, the photo accompanying this article speaks for itself. I'm glad to hear that things are wrapping up and that the changes will take effect in July. It's been a long time coming! I'm also pleased that a new landcover category is being added to the VRRM spreadsheet. It will come in handy.
 
It's really admirable that Virginia recognized they had redundant stormwater management authorities and took meaningful action to streamline their programs. If only more states were willing to do this kind of thing. In California, we have three environmental regulatory agencies that operate under highly overlapping authorities (CDFW, RWQCB, and CCC). I'd love to see California take a hard look at its environmental regulations, like Virginia did here, and make a similar effort to simplify its procedures.

I believe the old adage is that, "A picture is worth a thousand words.” Well, the photo accompanying this article speaks for itself.

Agreed @aquafire. It's really cool that VADEQ publicized that photo comparing the size of the old and new policy/procedures - complete with measuring tape. What great publicity showing that they went from 22 to six inches paper they had to deal with. After the eight years it took to finalize the VESM regulation and Stormwater Management Handbook I can tell they're having a "mic drop" moment over at VADEQ right now (as they should be!).
 
What a nifty explainer! Thanks for breaking down the rule changes in a simplified way. I appreciate that the state is not only prioritizing environmental protections, but it's also going a step further to consolidate regulations and to provide additional tools that make compliance easier.
 
I believe the old adage is that, "A picture is worth a thousand words.” Well, the photo accompanying this article speaks for itself.
You've got that right. It's refreshing to see the state government consolidate regulations to make them easier to understand and follow. I bet this move will save the state money in the long run.
 
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