In a July 22, 2015 presentation to the State Water Commission entitled “Findings of the State Water Supply Plan: Emerging Issues,” the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) highlighted areas of the state where future water supplies are projected to fall short of water demands.
Although no water supply deficit is projected for Hampton Roads, a significant portion of the region’s water supply comes from “grandfathered” water withdrawals that do not require a permit from the agency. Understanding the impacts of grandfathered withdrawals is a challenge identified by the DEQ. Infrastructure deficiencies, improving water use reporting, and assessing risks to groundwater availability in areas outside of designated groundwater management areas are among other challenges noted by the agency.
The DEQ received 31 public comment letters on the plan, including comments submitted by the HRPDC Directors of Utilities Committee. The agency summarized the comments as generally recognizing the complexity of the planning task, and expressing the need for state financial support, concerns that the document is not a “true” plan, and uncertainties about roles and intent. Although the plan identifies the need for additional water sources, it does not recommend alternatives for new source development or address how to accommodate demands from population growth.
The Virginia Water Resources Plan (the State Water Supply Plan) is Virginia’s first effort to compile information from local and regional water supply plans. The plan looks at surface water and groundwater sources and assesses the capacity of these sources to meet the projected 2040 water demand.