The Commission took the following actions at its Executive Committee Meeting on November 20, 2014:
Phase I MS4 permits for Hampton Roads localities have been administratively continued since 2005. Revised permits will advance stormwater programs and incorporate Chesapeake Bay and local TMDL requirements. The DEQ has made a commitment to
The EPA, that all draft permits for Phase I MS4s in Virginia will be submitted by the end of 2014. DEQ has informed Hampton Roads localities of its intent to send localities draft of their permits by Thanksgiving and ask for comments by mid-December. Ms. Whitney Katchmark reviewed key issues for the region, which include developing a more appropriate monitoring protocol for our coastal region, resolving credit for controls in place prior to 2009, prioritizing retrofit projects and the issue of localities performing industrial inspections on permits issued by the state. Permit conditions will be negotiated regionally where applicable and comments will submitted on the draft permits.
Chief Economist, Greg Grootendorst gave an overview of information provided by the HRMFFA regarding the presence of federal facilities in Hampton Roads. The information included federal employment levels in Hampton Roads as well as the current trends and challenges associated with a slow pivot of resources to the Pacific coast. There are, however, growth areas in defense surrounding cyber operations, unmanned systems and Special Ops, all of which bode well for the region.
Economist, James Clary provided context for economic impacts such as employment, contracting and federal spending in general. Future ship movement and decommissioning coupled with flat federal spending would significantly affect job loss in Hampton Roads.
As a follow-up to last month’s presentation on proposed cuts to groundwater withdrawal permits in the region, Ms. Whitney Katchmark, Principal Water Resources Planner, provided a review of the economic impacts of these cuts. DEQ is concerned that current withdrawals will do real damage to the aquifer system within the next decade and want to see significant reductions in 5-8 years. The analysis focused on recalculating demand projections for public water systems, with little forecasting of industrial demand. Most data for capital costs of developing new sources does not look at alternatives relative to cost considerations.
Based on local assessments, most localities will still have a supply that is great than 2040 demand projections, but this would require new infrastructure and/or purchasing water from other jurisdictions. In addition, cuts could create stranded assets. The larger issues of meeting the demands of economic development and how much growth should be allowed outside of public water service areas will need to be addressed to decide on the most cost-effective alternatives.
Data indicates that land subsidence has been responsible for more than half of the relative sea-level rise in the region, and is theorized to be the reason regional rates are roughly two times greater that the global average. A component of subsidence is aquifer compaction. Ms. Whitney Katchmark of the PDC staff provided an overview of two options to better measure land subsidence in the area and to understand where future subsidence is likely to occur. The options include another USGS study to assess best methods for monitoring or beginning analysis of satellite data to compare land elevations to create a map of historic land subsidence in Hampton Roads. The Commission asked that staff return with a recommended course of action.
The Chairman noted the sudden passing of HRPDC Treasurer James McReynolds and recognized his family in attendance. A joint HRPDC/HRTPO Resolution of Condolence was presented to the family between the two meetings.
Messrs. Ray Toll and Dave Architzel briefed the Commission on a federal “whole of government” approach to sea-level rise and resiliency planning. Part of this effort will include an all-day tabletop exercise on December 2, 2014.
Mr. Mark Gedulig-Yatrofsky of Portsmouth surmised that the pending changes in groundwater permits will positively impact subsidence in Hampton Roads. However, he stressed the need to look at incremental impacts, rather than only long-term issues. He urged leaders to take rational, reasonable approaches based on the best available science.
Mr. Ellis James of Norfolk updated Commissioners on actions of a recent state Commerce Committee meeting that will enable fracking east of I-95. He shared his concerns regarding impacts to groundwater and the many still unanswered questions surrounding the issue in Virginia.
The following items were approved under the Consent Agenda:
Ms. Selena Cuffee-Glenn was elected Treasurer.
There being no other business, the meeting was adjourned.