County looks at new regs from EPA

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By John Barnhart

    A major portion of a board of supervisors Monday evening work session was devoted to a presentation on storm water management.
    The state, which, in turn, is responding to an EPA mandate, is requiring all Virginia localities to have a storm water management ordinance in force by July 1 or face fines of up to $32,000 per day for failing to do so. Localities have until May 15 to adopt their ordinances, which must be approved by the state.
    Kevin Leamy, the county engineer, and Carolyn Howard of Draper Aden Associates made the presentation. Draper Aden is assisting the county in complying with this state mandate.
    A storm water management plan, along with an erosion sediment control plan, with a surety bond, will be required for projects that either cover one acre, or are within a common plan of development. The plan for the project will have to be reviewed and the project will be subject to construction inspections. The rules apply to both commercial and residential projects and, currently. only covers new construction because only new construction disturbs land.
    Land used for agricultural operations is exempt from this requirement. According to Howard, these plans must be produced by a licensed professional.
    The rules also contain an “energy balance equation,” for storm water runoff if the storm water runs into a stream or channel.
    People with projects that require a storm water management plan will have to get a Virginia Storm Water Management Permit (VSMP). Fees for this permit range from $290, for the smallest projects requiring the permit, to $9,600 for projects that will disturb more than 100 acres. There are also annual VSMP maintenance fees, ranging from $50 to $1,400, again depending on the project’s size.
    There are more limited rules for projects of less than an acre that disturb 10,000 square feet, or more, of land. People doing these projects will have to get an erosion sediment control permit and post a surety bond during construction.
    A long term maintenance agreement, with a bond, will have to be in place, in perpetuity, after construction is completed and best management practices (BMP) inspections will have to be carried out. The county will be responsible for enforcing the storm water regulations.
    “This could become very chaotic,” commented District 1 Supervisor Bill Thomasson. “It’s going to be a nightmare for the county.”
    “It’s called no more liberty,” said District 5 Supervisor Steve Arrington. “It’s creating another grossly incompetent bureaucracy. This is nothing more than heavy handed federal government.”
    “Maybe we should pass a resolution not to accept any of this,” District 2 Supervisor Curry Martin commented. Board Chairman John Sharp replied that he had already thought of that, but the county will be subject to huge fines if the supervisors don’t adopt an ordinance.
    Sharp noted that the VSMP maintenance plans, when applied to subdivisions, will require the establishment of homeowners associations. He does not like this requirement, but County Attorney Carl Boggess said that there may be no way to avoid it. He said the question is whether liability for managing storm water for subdivisions lies with those who live in them, or the county as a whole.
    “Our hands are tied,” Sharp said, concerning the requirement that the county adopt a storm water ordinance. “There is nothing we can do.”
    Leamy said county staff is writing an ordinance based on the state’s model with the goal of only doing the minimum the state is requiring.
    Howard noted that there could be more to come in the area of EPA mandated storm water regulations.
    “Things are going to get more stringent as years go by,” she said.

So what is the Energy Balance Equation?
QPost ≤ I.F. (QPre * RVPre ) / RVPost
QPost = Max. allowable peak flow rate from a developed site
QPre = Peak flow rate from pre-developed condition
RVPost = Volume from a developed site
RVPre = Volume from pre-developed condition
I.F. = Improvement Factor (0.8, > 1 ac; 0.9 ≤ 1ac)