State Water Commission
November 9, 2009
The State Water Commission
met in Richmond with the meeting focused primarily on possible legislation
for the 2010 Session.
Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)
followed up his presentation from the July 9, 2009, meeting of the State
Water Commission with a discussion of the financial resources necessary
to implement water resources programs. Mr. Kudlas detailed the fiscal
needs of a water supply program divided into three scenarios: a basic,
expanded, and optimal program. For each program, Mr. Kudlas noted the
equipment and staff needed for such program. The basic program would require
well-drilling equipment, three staff persons to operate the well-drilling
equipment, four new staff persons to draft the backlog of groundwater
permits, and one contracted station and two drilled stations per year.
Additional personnel would also be needed to issue permits in the new
management area. Observation wells are particularly needed in the Northern
Neck and the Middle Peninsula, where existing data gaps should be closed.
DEQ would contract out observation well stations in locations where water
levels are lower than predicted and geophysical cores in locations where
some aquifers appear to be missing. The contracting would be needed to
supplement DEQ drilling. The minimal cost of a basic effort would require
an upfront, initial investment of $4 million. The expanded and optimal
level programs include additional wells and gauges for more extensive
Members asked about
the relative cost effectiveness of private or government-owned drilling
operations, which is affected by procurement laws and a dearth of interested,
experienced contractors for this type of hard rock drilling. Members also
expressed doubt in the ability to raise more funds in the current economic
climate, though they hoped to provide adequate funds in the future. In
response to a request by a member, Mr. Kudlas will prepare a funding strategy
paper to elaborate on his presentation and provide such paper at the next
scheduled meeting of the commission.
of Technical Advisory Committee
possible legislation before the Commission. The first piece of legislation
establishes a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to assist with the review
and implementation of water supply-related issues. The group would be
facilitated by DEQ and composed of water users, water providers, conservationists,
state and federal officials, and university faculty. Specific issues for
the TAC to examine would include:
- Procedures for
incorporating local and regional water supply plans into the state water
resources plan and minimizing potential conflicts among various submitted
- The development
of methodologies for calculating actual and anticipated future water
- The funding necessary
to ensure that the needed technical data for development of a statewide
planning process is available.
- The effectiveness
of the planning process in encouraging the aggregation of users into
common planning areas based on watershed or geographic boundaries.
- The impact of
consumptive use and reuse on water resources.
for use of alternative water sources, including water reuse and rainwater
flows necessary for the protection of instream beneficial use of water
for fish and wildlife habitat.
- Other policies
and procedures that the Director of the Department of Environmental
Quality determines may enhance the effectiveness of water supply and
water resources planning in Virginia.
The members inquired
about the appropriate selection of members and the cost to DEQ for assisting
the TAC. The Commission voted to support the proposed legislation.
draft addresses limited data that hinder the state's ability to manage
its water resources. In an effort to mitigate this issue, a law was enacted
in 1989 that requires any water user who withdraws one million gallons
in a single month for crop irrigation, or whose daily average during a
single month exceeds 10,000 gallons per day (300,000 per month) to report
on their water withdrawal. However, no sanction accompanied this requirement
and compliance has been minimal. The draft gives the State Water Control
Board the authority to impose a civil penalty, not to exceed $1,000, on
those failing to report their withdrawals. The moneys collected would
go into a special fund to be allocated solely to fund the Department's
water supply planning responsibilities. Members expressed interest in
who would be affected by this change and how such person would be notified
of the changes in legislation. A member suggested amendments that would
not permit penalization for violations prior to notification that such
a violation has occurred. The commission voted to support the draft proposal
contingent upon changes consistent with the member’s suggestion.
Another member stated his intent to vote against the provision because
of his concerns that farmers might be negatively impacted with regard
to water access from farm ponds.
The third draft
requires that a memorandum of agreement be signed that provides for the
timely transmission of private and community well construction records
between the Department of Health and DEQ. The records are invaluable for
tracking groundwater resources across the state and necessary to avoid
subsidence—which is the nonreversible collapse of an aquifer from
excessive water extraction—and incidents of saltwater intrusions.
The Department of Health and DEQ are now involved in developing procedures
for the sharing of well construction permit information. The Commission
postponed action on this measure.
Funding for Water Supply Planning
draft aims to increase the funds available for water supply planning.
The proposal would increase the cost of a groundwater withdrawal permit
fee from $6,000 to $12,000 for a 10-year permit. Staff explained further
that the fees for surface water withdrawal permits through a Virginia
Water Protection Permit is $25,000-$35,000. According to figures provided
by DEQ, staffing costs for the current groundwater program are nearly
$1.2 million. Groundwater withdrawal permit fees generate only $148,000
in revenue, or 12.3 percent of the program's costs. It is hoped that the
additional revenue would reduce permit application review time and reinvigorate
water modeling and monitoring efforts, which have not been updated since
1990. The members were very interested in who would be affected by the
increase in fees and how those costs might be allocated. DEQ noted that
it did not take a position on the legislation. The Commission voted to
support this measure. Delegate Wright, Senator Ruff, and Michael T. McEvoy
voted against the measure. Staff offered to follow up on the financial
impact to permittees at a final meeting of the Commission.
Water Protection Permits
The final draft
requires that, when issuing a Virginia Water Protection Permit (VWWP),
the State Water Control Board (the Board) shall determine whether the
permit is consistent with the state water resources plan. Currently, the
Board must ensure the proposed activity is consistent with the provisions
of the Clean Water Act and the State Water Control Law, and will protect
instream beneficial use. The members asked about the Board's current authority
to look at issues outside the four corners of the permit. After suggestions
from members, staff offered to provide amendments that would allow the
Board to consider, but not mandate, review of the state water resources
plan as part of its determination of whether to issue a VWWP. The public
was encouraged to contact staff with suggestions.
Baxter, Deputy Director, Dept. of Conservation and Recreation
spoke to the Commission on the amendments to the Virginia Stormwater Management
Program Regulations. The current standards have resulted in continuing
declines in stream health, significant flooding, and channel erosion.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will review the new regulations
in light of its responsibility under the Clean Water Act to create new
accountability measures for states for not meeting Chesapeake Bay pollution
reduction milestones. Mr. Baxter described the development of the regulations
as a four-year process that involved over 50 public meetings, two technical
advisory committees, a series of design charrettes with over 400 attendees,
a BMP clearinghouse with Virginia Water Resources Center at Virginia Tech,
and collaboration with the Center for Watershed Protection and the Chesapeake
Stormwater Network to develop Runoff Reduction Methodology. The Soil and
Water Conservation Board (the Board) adopted the revised regulations at
a meeting on October 5. The new programs would be administered by localities
to address both water quality and water quantity issues. The fees assessed
will be established at a level sufficient to support administration of
local programs. The Board addressed numerous issues of significant concern
to the public in its adoption of the revised regulations, such as:
- Separate standards
for the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the Southern Rivers watershed.
- Different standards
for small sites and redevelopment sites.
- Additional offsite
- Increased flexibilities
in urban development areas.
of vested rights for projects.
- Reduced inspection
- Adoption of a
good pasture standard rather than the forest standard.
Mr. Baxter noted
that the EPA has been interested and involved throughout the process.
Members were interested in the approvals needed by local programs and
grandfathering processes. Chairman Morgan raised the question about possible
actions by the EPA that might be taken. Mr. Baxter characterized the EPA's
position as "serious." He indicated that the agency is examining
a range of possible sanctions if Virginia did not implement effective
Bay clean-up measures, including the withdrawal of grant moneys or even
possible revocation of program delegation.
The Hon. Harvey
Marty Farber, Ellen
Porter, DLS Staff
of Legislative Services > Legislative
Record > 2009