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HRPDC Urges DCR to Address Deficiencies in Proposed Stormwater Regulations

HRPDC Urges DCR to Address Deficiencies in Proposed Stormwater Regulations
Regional concerns appear to have been largely ignored

HRPDC is urging DCR to address major concerns with the proposed regulation reauthorizing and amending the Virginia Stormwater Management Program (VSMP) general permit for discharges from small municipal separate storm sewer systems (Phase II MS4 General Permit) [4 VAC 50 60]. In a December 2012 comment letter, HRPDC identifies issues with Section I.C., Special Conditions for the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, and highlights inaccuracies with DCR’s data inputs to the Chesapeake Bay model, reliance on model-derived information, DCR’s utilization of model outputs, and the need for specific revisions and implementation guidance.

HRPDC’s comments focus on the proposed regulation’s reliance on baseline pollutant loading rates for nitrogen, phosphorus, and total suspended solids. These loading rates ultimately determine the pollutant reductions required in each jurisdiction subject to the Phase II MS4 General Permit. There are compounding flaws in the approach used to derive baseline loading rates. As the regulation is currently written, the pollutant reductions already achieved by local governments in Hampton Roads will be discounted, and localities will be forced to implement additional measures and potentially employ more costly solutions to achieve permit compliance.

This is not the first time HRPDC has alerted DCR to these issues. Most recently, HRPDC staff provided a statement at the September 28, 2012 meeting of the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board (click here to read more). DCR remarks during the September 28th meeting indicated the agency’s intent to correct specific “oversights” in the draft language to allow locality reporting of water quality management improvements implemented between 2009 and the July 2013 effective date of the new Permit. However, as of December 18, 2012, the corrected language had not been released and it is remains unclear if the revised Section I.C. will be made available before the end of the comment period. HRPDC is urging DCR to provide the opportunity for public comment on the proposed language for this important section of the Permit.

The HRPDC Joint Environmental Committee finalized comments on December 13, 2012, following endorsement of draft comments at the November 15, 2012 HRPDC Executive Committee Meeting. The public comment period continues through January 4, 2013. Notice of the proposed regulation is available for review in the November 5, 2012 issue of the Virginia Register of Regulations.

According to the agency statement, the proposed regulation sets forth guidelines for the permitting of discharges of stormwater runoff from small municipal separate storm sewer systems (small MS4's) in urbanized areas. Small MS4’s include systems owned or operated by municipalities, federal facilities, state facilities (including VDOT), and universities.