|Action||Amend Parts I, II, and III of the Virginia Stormwater Management Program Permit Regulations to address water quality and quantity and local stormwater management program criteria.|
|Comment Period||Ends 8/21/2009|
As a lifelong Virginia resident and strong proponent of natural resource protection, I have serious concerns about the magnitude of these proposed regulations as they pertain to controlling stormwater quantity and quality.
I fully support the protection of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. As someone who enjoys kayaking and fishing along the Rappahannock, we must protect our rivers and streams. But I question the level of attention being paid to development compared to other pollution sources.
Development must be required to control their stormwater discharges of their sites. And there is certainly something to be said regarding reducing/removing stormwater volumes from the runoff flows. There are some good ideas floating around that should be pursued by all involved. I don't have a problem with looking at improving the SWM regulations in the State of Virginia, but the final product is not one that I can support at this time.
I'll highligh two concerns:
1 - The attention paid to agricultural runoff by the State of Virginia is sorely lacking if the Bay is ever going go be cleaned up. As long as these programs are "voluntary" the bay will not improve. If you look at percentages of land use in the bay, agricultural land is a large percentage of the watershed. But where is the oversight and where is the outcry to clean up agricultural runoff? While it may be there to a degree, its nothing compared to the level of scrutiny and regulation focusing on development. Virginia is a leader in the nation in attracting business which helps tremendously with jobs and tax base. Regulations like this do nothing but hurt our economy and discourage anyone from coming here.
I realize that moving from a "voluntary" approach to a regulatory approach with agriculture is complicated, but so are the effects of these proposed regulatory changes. The ripple effect will be large. I ask you - do you choose this approach because it is easier or because you really think it will make the bigger difference in the Bay? Because ultimately our concern is about the Bay and its tributaries - which is why I feel that the focus should be more on agriculture and other sources that are not pulling their weight.
2 - The oversight of the EXISTING programs/regulations in the State of Virginia is sorely lacking as well. Programs that are already on the books designed to "clean up the bay" are so poorly managed, how do you know if they work or not? DCR doesn't have the staff to verify that the existing programs and regulations are even working - how do you know they won't work if you just enforced the existing regulations? Why did you just make the VSMP program more stringent when there was barely any oversight of the old permit? How do you know that development is the real problem and isn't pulling their weight when you can't pinpoint its effects versus surrounding land uses? You can't just say its not working if you don't have all the facts to back it up.
I was not a part of the TAC, however I've read through many minutes and know several on the committee. I would also express my concern that there remain serious differences of opinion on the final draft version of the far reaching change in the SWM regulations.
I strongly encourage you to take a step back and pursue a broader consensus before proceeding with this far reaching legislation.