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Final Changes to Virginia Stormwater Regulations May Have Tremendous Impact


stormwater regulationsMany organizations in the public and private sector are unaware of how they will be impacted by recent changes to Virginia’s stormwater regulations. Paul F. Hinson, PE, LEED AP, Director of Engineering at Richmond-based civil engineering firm, Koontz-Bryant, P.C., has been conducting seminars to educate organizations on the possible impact of the changes. Different industries and organizations may be impacted in different ways.

For over 10 years the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has been working on new stormwater regulations. The new regulations will come into full effect July 1, 2014. Hinson explains, “A controversial first draft was submitted to the public in 2009 and was not well received by the public, with over 1200 comments. The proposed regulations had significant changes to permissible phosphorous levels that were approximately a 50% reduction from the previous default loadings.” The regulations were revised for public comments in 2009, and the DCR adopted a plan in 2010 to meet the EPA’s Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the Chesapeake Bay. The plan was finally adopted on May 24, 2011 after the DCR presented the new regulation changes to the DCR Board.

There are several changes to the regulations. Some of the significant changes are:

  • The management of stormwater run off must now include volume reduction as well as peak flow rate reduction. Previously the regulations only required peak flow rate reduction.
  • The requirements have expanded to include stormwater quality treatment for the entire state of Virginia. Non Chesapeake Bay localities must now provide stormwater quality treatment for phosphorus.
  • The state of Virginia must also adhere to a default phosphorus loading of .41lbs/acre/year or 14% impervious area, which is a reduction from .44 lbs/acre/year or 16% impervious area.  This also includes localities that may have had a default loading higher than 16% (such as Newport News and Norfolk).
  • Revisions to redevelopment of existing sites are now based on the size of the site. For example:
    • Sites less than 1 acre are still required to provide a 10% phosphorus reduction from the pre-development loading.
    • Sites greater than or equal to an acre are now required to provide 20% phosphorus reduction from pre-development loading for existing site conditions.
    • Any new impervious areas to pre-existing sites must now be treated in accordance with the new regulations and standards.
  • Standards for adequate outfalls have also been revised.  Sites must now demonstrate that they satisfy the energy balance equation provided by the DCR at all outfalls.  If the site does not satisfy this requirement, an analysis must be performed demonstrating that the outfall is adequate until the site’s drainage area is 1% of the total drainage area or the site’s peak flow rate is 1% of the total peak flow.

stormwater regulationsAlthough these changes are to take effect in July 2014, grandfathering provisions are available to both the public and private sector to allow sites to be developed under the existing regulations until July 1, 2019. If approvals are obtained from localities for any of the following items, private sector projects can be grandfathered:

  • Proffered zoning case
  • Conditional zoning case
  • Zoning with a Plan of Development
  • Preliminary subdivision plat
  • Final subdivision plat
  • Preliminary site plan
  • Final site plan
  • Any document determined to be equivalent by the locality

State projects can be grandfathered by:

  • An obligation of locality, state or federal funding in whole or in part
  • Stormwater Management Plan approved prior to July 1, 2012
  • Government bonding or public debt financing issued for a project prior to July 1, 2012
The entire new regulations can be downloaded -- Board Adopted Stormwater Regulations(PDF)

To schedule a Free seminar on Stormwater Regulation Changes or questions regarding the new regulations contact Paul Hinson, Koontz-Bryant Director of Engineering