|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|
The new proposed storm water regulations contemplated in Soil and Water Conservation Board’s revised storm water regulations is cause for great concern for the economy of The Commonwealth. The regulations new technical quality and quantity standards create an undue burden on new development and redevelopment with only minimal benefits provided to the overall environment.
First the application of a water quality standard based on Chesapeake Bay models is inappropriate for statewide application. The Chesapeake Bay watershed in Virginia covers approximately 60% of Virginia’s acreage. The other 40% or more drains to the “southern rivers.” It is not appropriate to base standards for those rivers on problems occurring in the Chesapeake Bay. In no other situation is a waste load allocation applied statewide in order to address a specific problem. For that reason, I feels that any new statewide standard should be based on statewide data, and problems unique to the Chesapeake Bay should be addressed through the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act.
Furthermore, the water quality standard targets a small amount of phosphorous in urban development, which itself accounts for less than one percent of the acreage in the watershed annually. The .28 lbs of phosphorous per acre per year standard in the regulation over the next twenty-five years, based on historic development patterns, only reduces the projected urban and suburban phosphorous loads by just under 124,000 pounds in the 25th year of the plan, at the exorbitant cost of $2.1 Billion. Though this standard is ambitious, for the cost only an insignificant amount of phosphorous is removed from the watershed. The Virginia allotment of phosphorous, from which the Tributary Strategies were derived, would not be met under this model until 2090 or later.
With the increased restrictions on impervious surface created by this regulation, and the requirement to mitigate runoff from pervious surfaces as well, compliance requires additional acres in residential developments. In urban core areas, that land comes with a premium price attached to it and reduces available densities as more land will be required for storm water management facilities. This will drive the cost of housing in high density urban areas to unaffordable levels. The unintended effect of this regulation will be to push development out to where land is cheaper and offers opportunities for large lot developments. This movement away from urban cores is in direct contradiction to the stated policies of the Virginia General Assembly and the Governor evidenced by House Bill 3202 passed during the 2008 Special Session. House Bill 3202 creates a requirement for Urban Development Areas (UDA) in localities with high growth rates. The goal of the legislation is to compact future development into densely populated communities where home, work, and recreational opportunities are all within walking distance of each other. Development within a UDA under this regulation would be extremely expensive, and would likely eliminate the option for affordable housing. Ultimately, 20 years from now a new generation will be around the table wondering why UDAs were never utilized and why the Bay is still polluted. To that end we encourage the Soil and Water Conservation Board to abandon the proposed technical criteria in the proposed regulation and pursue a different approach.