Virginia Trumps EPA at Storm Water Regulation

October 27, 2011, 3:53 PM

The regulation of storm water from construction activities has the attention of enforcement agencies at the federal and state level. The most recent example is the $625,000 fine paid by Ryland Group Inc. to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for storm water violations at construction sites. Both the EPA and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) have published new regulations controlling storm water generated by construction activities. Since DCR published a Storm Water General Permit for Construction Activities before the EPA finalized its regulations, construction sites in Virginia that obtain the state general permit have to comply with their permit, but not with EPA regulations. EPAs regulations will become effective in Virginia as they must be incorporated into the state general permit when it is renewed in 2014. EPA is working on developing a turbidity standard that will limit the amount of suspended solids in discharge from construction sites.

DCR recently updated the Virginia regulations for storm water activities at construction sites that will limit the discharge of phosphorus from construction sites, including redevelopment sites that will have the same amount of impervious surface as the pre-development site. These regulations impose stringent limits on the quantity of storm water discharged as well. They also spell out specific requirements for storm water prevention plans that are required of all permittees and are favorite targets for enforcement by both DCR and EPA. Fortunately the regulations include liberal grandfathering requirements that, if followed, enable a company to postpone the need to comply with these requirements. --Marina Liacouras Phillips