HRPDC is voicing significant concerns with the proposed Groundwater Withdrawal Regulations (9VAC25-610), which were recently released by DEQ for public comment. HRPDC’s December 2012 comment letter urges DEQ to make public drinking water systems the highest priority users, provide longer permit terms; and provide more appropriate evaluation of drought well permits and innovative management practices.
HRPDC articulated the same concerns in October 2010 when the regulatory advisory panel process concluded. The proposed regulation fails to address these concerns and remains essentially unchanged from the 2010 draft language. Regulatory impacts to Hampton Roads water utilities include:
• Potential changes in the amount of water localities and businesses can withdraw;
• Potential increases in water costs to citizens;
• Changes in water use restrictions during droughts;
• Potential competition between public drinking water systems and other users for limited water supplies.
The HRPDC Directors of Utilities Committee finalized comments on December 5, 2012, following endorsement of draft comments at the November 15, 2012 HRPDC Executive Committee Meeting.
Concurrent with DEQ’s notice of the proposed Groundwater Withdrawal Regulations (9VAC25-610), the agency published notice of proposed amendments to the Eastern Virginia Ground Water Management Area (GWMA) Regulation (9VAC20-600). Both notices are available for review in the October 22, 2012 issue of the Virginia Register of Regulations. The public comment period for both regulations continues through January 11, 2013.
The action for 9VAC25-610 proposes amendments to address the increasing demand on limited groundwater resources and to change the administrative review process to incorporate new information on the coastal plain aquifer system. All groundwater withdrawals of more than 300,000 gallons per month require a permit from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
The regulatory action to amend 9VAC20-600 proposes expansion of the Eastern Virginia GWMA (map) to include the remaining portion of Virginia’s coastal plain to mitigate impacts of groundwater withdrawals and maintain a sustainable future groundwater supply. Currently, all localities in Hampton Roads, except Gloucester County, are located within the GWMA. The proposed amendment would add Gloucester and many other localities outside the region to the GWMA. The coastal plain aquifer system is an important drinking water source for the region. Declining water levels in the GWMA continue to be of concern.