|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|
August 20, 2009
To: Members of the Soil and Water Conservation Board
Ref: Virginia Stormwater Regulations Revision
I am a Professional Engineer and a Land Surveyor who has been practicing in the Commonwealth of Virginia for approximately 40 years. A large portion of my work has been in the area of site plan design, including drainage and stormwater management in the central part of the Shenandoah Valley.
The first edition of the Virginia Stormwater Management Handbook was printed in 1999 and became available in 2000. At that time localities maintained an Erosion & Sediment Control program which rarely required the technical requirements in the 1999 Virginia Stormwater Management Handbook. Also at that time DEQ had the responsibility for Stormwater permits for construction sites. The standard practice was to complete an application and pay the Stormwater permit fee. Implementation of the technical aspects of the Virginia Stormwater Management Handbook was not required for several reasons. Most localities in my area of practice did not adapt the requirements of the Virginia Stormwater Management Handbook and the state did not review private projects.
All that changed in 2004 when the General Assembly passed HB 1177 transferring NPDES authority from DEQ to DCR. It took about 2 years for the provisions of Virginia Stormwater Management Handbook to become normal practice on private sites, and even today Virginia Stormwater Management Handbook provisions are not always required.
My point is this: the provisions of the 1999 Virginia Stormwater Management Handbook have been applied to most construction sites for only 3 years. That is not enough time to measure the effectiveness of those provisions. Why are we trying to fix or modify a process when we have no concept if the current process is working? My only conclusion is that it is for political reasons, not for technical reasons that these changes are even under consideration.
Therefore, I urge you to vote NO on Part II of the proposed Virginia Stormwater Regulations.
When adequate time has passed and appropriate technical studies reveal that the technical provisions of the 1999 Virginia Stormwater Management Handbook are not adequate, then and only then should changes be considered.
I also believe that there are more cost effective means of managing Stormwater runoff than the changes currently under consideration. For example, the suggestions from the Virginia Home Builders Association.
In making your decision, please also consider the following items:
· 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. I designed a 1-acre commercial parcel in Harrisonburg, VA that was constructed less than a year ago. The Stormwater management provisions of that project cost approximately $200,000. During a charette in February of 2009, I learned that the new regulations could easily double the cost for Stormwater management. The expectation of spending $400,000 for Stormwater management for small sites similar to this 1-acre parcel will be the death toll for development, construction, and our economy.
· These regulations apply one standard across Virginia, even though there has been no scientific evidence presented to justify this approach. In fact, studies show that the metropolitan areas of DC and Richmond are the major sources of Stormwater pollution problems. Why not start the application of new regulations in those areas and free the remaining portion of the Commonwealth from unnecessary burden?
· These proposed regulations will promote sprawl by requiring more land to be used to meet the same demand for commercial and industrial floor space and residential units.
· During the recent TAC process, stakeholders were told that the technical requirements were “off limits”; many stakeholders had and still have concerns that have not been adequately addressed or even 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.
· There are alternatives that would do more to help the Chesapeake Bay at less financial and environmental cost to Virginia. These alternatives deserve a full vetting by a reconvened TAC.
· By promoting sprawl, these proposed regulations will make it much tougher to build the town center and village style projects that characterize smart growth and are envisioned in state law.
Again, I urge you to vote NO on Part II of the proposed Stormwater requirements and reconvene the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). Thank you for your consideration.
Jerry L. Brunk, P.E., L.S.