Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Conservation and Recreation
Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board
Stormwater Management Regulations AS 9 VAC 25-870 [4 VAC 50 ‑ 60]
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.
Stage Proposed
Comment Period Ended on 8/21/2009
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8/19/09  4:01 pm
Commenter: Rand Sompayrac

Vote NO!

As a citizen of Virginia, I am deeply concerned about the Soil and Water Conservation Board’s proposed stormwater regulations, especially Part II of the proposed regulations.  These unscientific, burdensome mandates will unfairly punish the commercial and residential development industry thus endangering Virginia's reputation as one of the best places in America to do business.  According to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s (DCR) own official web site “one EPA study estimates that 27 percent of the phosphorus and 60 percent of the nitrogen entering the Chesapeake Bay originate from cropland. These pollutants need to be controlled in order to protect the environment.”  

While this letter appears to be anti-farm/anti-farmer nothing could be further from the truth.  But it doesn’t seem fair to severely regulate land development when there are other Virginia industries that significantly contribute to the Bay’s degradation. 
There doesn’t appear to be any scientific data to support the proposed reduction of phosphorus levels by 38 percent solely on the back of the commercial and residential development industry. “As of the March 2009 meeting of the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board, approximately 83% of the 149 local programs reviewed since July 1, 2005 have been found consistent with the Erosion and Sediment Control Law and Regulations. Compliant local programs protect Virginia’s soils and water resources.” (Chesapeake Bay and Virginia Waters Clean-Up Plan, The Honorable L. Preston Bryant, Jr., Secretary of Natural Resources, Commonwealth of Virginia, July 2009, p. 40.)
It appears that DCR has refused to provide the rationale for the proposed phosphorous reduction to 0.28 pounds per acre per year level as it applies to stormwater management practices for land development. While the proposed regulations fail to address the major contributor to the Bay’s decline—AGRICULTURE, whether it is crops, poultry, hog, or dairy and beef cattle operations. As I have documented below, with several references mostly from the Commonwealth’s own studies, the inequity begins with subjecting only land development to rigorous regulations when providing a “pass” by making best management practices (BMPs) voluntary for agribusinesses.
Almost daily I pass by farms that have livestock standing partially submerged in ponds. I have also researched the poultry, hog and dairy industry in Virginia and the negative impact these industries and their by-products have on the Chesapeake Bay. It makes no sense that the Soil and Water Conservation Board would ignore the largest, most serious polluter of the Chesapeake Bay. 
Poultry manure contains large amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. According to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, though hog and dairy operations produce more manure than a chicken or turkey operation, poultry litter--the mixture of fecal droppings, antibiotic residues, heavy metals, cysts, larvae, decaying carcasses, and sawdust the birds are forced to bed in--has 4 times the nitrogen and 24 times the phosphorous.  (Allison, W., Poultry Trade Taken Aback, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Section C, Page 7, March 1, 1998.)
The Delmarva Peninsula produces a million tons of manure a year, enough to fill a football stadium "to the top row, including all the concourses, locker rooms and concession areas."  (Warrick J. & T. Shields, Md., Counties Awash in Pollution-Causing Nutrients, Section A, pages 1 and 22, The Washington Post, Oct. 3, 1997.)
In the 1990s, poultry production in 5 West Virginia counties at the headwaters of the Potomac River, which nourishes the Chesapeake Bay, grew from 7 million birds a year to 100 million birds, now producing enough manure to cover "all 160 miles of Los Angeles freeways ankle deep." (Gerstenzang, J., Poultry Production Threatens Potomac River's Health, Section A, Page 7, San Francisco Chronicle, April 21, 1997.)
In the Potomac Headwaters in West Virginia, 155,000 tons of annual waste from the more than 90 million birds confined in 870 poultry sheds have polluted local streams with poisonous coliform bacteria. These small creeks and rivers enter the Potomac River, which provides drinking water for metropolitan Washington D.C. (Lipton, E., Poultry Poses Growing Potomac Hazard, Section A, Page 18, The Washington Post, June 1, 1997.)
“While DCR data show that agricultural sources present a larger nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment runoff problem than development, the proposal offers no regulation on agricultural sources. The agribusiness community has voluntarily implemented measures to help reduce runoff pollution, but even with the voluntary measures the DCR data still show agricultural sources measuring almost three times the sediment runoff, more than twice the nitrogen runoff and almost 50 percent more phosphorus runoff than development. Therefore, the proposal should not treat the development industry as the sole cause of pollutants running into the Bay, as it does.” (Wakeland, C. Warren, HBAR Director of Government Affairs, letter dated August 10, 2009.)
“Water quality restoration goals will not be achieved without widespread implementation of agricultural BMPs. Estimates from Virginia’s tributary strategies are that 92% of agricultural acreage must be “treated” with a BMP or suite of BMPs to achieve nutrient and sediment reductions assigned to the agricultural sector. If fully implemented, the “priority” practices outlined in this strategy will achieve an estimated 60% (approximately 11.8 million pounds of nitrogen and 1.8 million pounds of phosphorus) of the needed nonpoint source nutrient reductions.” (Chesapeake Bay and Virginia Waters Clean-Up Plan, The Honorable L. Preston Bryant, Jr., Secretary of Natural Resources, Commonwealth of Virginia, July 2009, p. 33.)
“Extremely aggressive implementation of agricultural conservation practices will be necessary to meet the Commonwealth’s nonpoint source nutrient and sediment pollution reduction goals by 2013 − one or more BMPs needed on approximately 92% of all available agricultural land; it is estimated that only 30% to 40% of all available lands have implemented BMPs.”  (Chesapeake Bay and Virginia Waters Clean-Up Plan, p. 35.)
“The Department of Conservation and Recreation estimates that as much as 85% of poultry litter is transferred from regulated poultry growing operations to farms with no nutrient management planning requirement.”  (Chesapeake Bay and Virginia Waters Clean-Up Plan, p. 36.)
The above quotes are provided to emphasize the fact that the Soil and Water Conservation Board’s proposed stormwater regulations are seriously misdirected. Indeed, the Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure and it deserves a quality plan that addresses all aspects of source pollution not just one industry. Please, when the time comes for you vote on these regulations, I encourage you to vote NO on Part II, which contains the proposed new technical standards, and reconvene the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to continue work on these requirements and consider alternative regulatory arrangements. Why?
  • These regulations are the least efficient way to address pollutant removal in the bay.  The cost of mitigation versus the benefits realized has been determined to be "significant" according to the Department of Planning and Budget.
  • During the recent TAC process, stakeholders were told that the technical requirements were "off limits," although many stakeholders had and still have concerns that have not been adequately addressed or addressed at all.
  • During the Board's September 2008 public hearing, six of the nine TAC members who spoke asked you to hold off on Part II.  There is hardly consensus on this issue.
  • Again, I urge you vote NO on Part II of the proposed stormwater requirements and reconvene the Technical Advisory Committee.
Thank you for your consideration.
CommentID: 9725