While social issues may have grabbed the headlines during 2012 Session of the Virginia General Assembly, some significant changes were also made on the environmental front – particularly with regard to stormwater regulation. In fact, once signed into law, these changes will alter the process through which water quality regulations are administered in Virginia at the state and local level. These changes will also broaden Virginia’s existing nutrient trading program, providing for the buying and selling of nutrient credits at a much greater scale than currently allowed.
Consolidating programs intended to control water degradation, Senate Bill 407 (Hanger)[companion to House Bill 1065 (Sherwood)] integrates elements of the existing Erosion and Sediment Control Act, the Stormwater Act, and Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act so that these regulatory programs can be implemented in a consolidated and consistent manner. The new regulatory process is intended to result in greater efficiencies, i.e., “one-stop shopping,” for those regulated. The bill eliminates the Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Board and places its responsibilities with the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board. The bill also makes adoption of a local stormwater management program (“VSMP”) mandatory for all localities in Virginia (excluding non-MS4 towns), not just those in the Tidewater Area as defined by the Chesapeake Bay Protection Act, or designated as an MS4.
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