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New regulations on storm water management take effect July 1

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Print this page By Paula C. Squires


Tomorrow, July 1, ushers in new regulations for Virginia’s Storm Water Management Program — changes that will affect how new projects are designed and constructed.

The new law calls for more stringent controls on water quality and quantity coming off development sites, says Shannon Varner, a lawyer in environmental law with Troutman Saunders in Richmond.

Another change governs oversight. Originally, the new legislation would have moved storm water management to all localities, says Varner.  However, during the past General Assembly session, some smaller localities convinced legislators that that they didn’t have the resources to run their own programs. The way things stand now metropolitan areas will run their programs. Smaller localities also may opt in to run their programs, says Varner, but they don’t have to. If they don’t opt in, the state’s Department of Environmental Quality will provide oversight as it has in the past.  

Another big concern has been grandfather provisions. If a developer had a permit in place for a project prior to July 1, it was possible to get grandfathered under existing storm water controls. After Tuesday, though, new projects will be subject to the new requirements.

“It will take some additional planning and there could be some additional costs,” says Varner. “There are opportunities for nutrient trading to help reduce the costs of water quality control.’’

According to the DEQ’s Website, storm water runoff is the water that flows into other surface waters or water that is channeled into natural or constructed conveyance systems during and after precipitation. If left unmanaged, the runoff can cause erosion and flooding or may carry excess nutrients, sediment and contaminants into the state’s waters.

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