One of the partners in the CCRFR is the Virginia Coastal Policy Center (VCPC) at the William & Mary Law School. The VCPC provides science-based legal and policy analysis of ecological issues affecting the state's coastal resources, providing education and advice to a host of Virginia’s decision-makers, from government officials and legal scholars to non-profit and business leaders.
With two nationally prominent science partners – the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, one of the largest marine research and education centers in the United States, and Virginia Sea Grant, a nationally recognized broker of scientific information – VCPC works with scientists, local and state political figures, community leaders, the military, and others to integrate the latest science with legal and policy analysis to solve coastal resource management issues. VCPC activities are inherently interdisciplinary, drawing on scientific, economic, public policy, sociological, and other expertise from within the College of William & Mary and Old Dominion University and across the country. With access to internationally recognized scientists at VIMS, to Sea Grant’s national network of legal and science scholars, and to elected and appointed officials across the nation, VCPC engages in a host of information exchanges and collaborative partnerships.
The VCPC publishes on its website a number of reports each year analyzing law and policy issues related to sea level rise and recurrent flooding. In addition, the VCPC hosts an annual fall conference to highlight and address a variety of coastal policy issues.
In 2017 the General Assembly passed HB 1774 charging CCRFR with examining opportunities to improve stormwater management in rural localities located in Tidewater Virginia while meeting or exceeding water quality requirements. VCPC convened a stakeholder working group and VIMS and ODU experts provided scientific and engineering support.
As a result of the working groups consensus findings, Delegate Hodges proposed legislation during the 2018 General Assembly session.
- A nutrient or volume credit trading system for water within roadside ditches in Tidewater Virginia would not be feasible. Such an approach would require the expansion of the current credit trading scheme beyond a single river basin, which is not allowed under current law as it is not protective of local water quality. Further, there is currently little market for nutrient or volume credits in Tidewater Virginia, making this approach impractical.
- At this time, the use of Comprehensive Stormwater Management Plans for land disturbances between 2,500 square feet and one (1) acre is not viewed as providing rural Tidewater localities with an easier to administer option, since they can involve significant investment in time and money to develop.
- Implementing a large-scale program to treat stormwater in ditches in rural Tidewater localities would not achieve a significant reduction in pollutants to assist the Commonwealth in achieving its nonpoint source load allocation under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load; i.e., the amount of pollutant reduction achieved would not justify the cost of treating all ditches in the ditch network. However, most of the pollutant load in these ditches comes from agricultural land uses, so the Commonwealth could have an interest in seeing targeted BMPs implemented to reduce these pollutants and provide meaningful water quality progress in targeted areas.
- There currently is an extremely low level of development in rural Tidewater localities.
- Given the fact that the Chesapeake Bay program is currently reviewing ditch management as an effective stormwater management practice, the Workgroup identified seven possible funding sources that the Governor, General Assembly and others could consider to fund the development of targeted BMPs to reduce agricultural pollutant load in rural Tidewater localities and potentially save money for the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) if private entities improve and assume maintenance of some ditches in VDOT’s drainage network. Such possible funding sources include the creation of a subfund for the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund.
- In order to address concerns raised by rural Tidewater localities concerning administration of a stormwater management program, the Workgroup identified the implementation of a tiered approach to the water quantity requirements of the stormwater management program that is based upon the percent of impervious cover in a watershed. Each of the three tiers within this approach would require the application of different water quantity requirements, with varying levels of complexity. This approach may allow rural localities in Tidewater Virginia to implement less complex (yet still protective) water quantity requirements within areas with only a small amount of development and associated impervious cover for development activities disturbing less than one acre. This tiered approach would require increasing levels of protection and regulation with increasing percentage of impervious cover. This approach will also require rural Tidewater localities to develop, by ordinance, watershed maps indicating impervious cover. The Workgroup also noted that a high level of scientific analysis was necessary in order to reach this recommendation, as can be seen in Appendix 11, and a similar level of analysis would be necessary if this proposal were considered for expansion beyond the rural Tidewater localities.
- The Workgroup recommends that both a VSMP/VESCP authority and a Tidewater Virginia locality that has opted out of administering a VSMP program be authorized to require and accept stamped/sealed plans and supporting calculations, as well as required inspection/ monitoring reports, from a licensed professional retained by the applicant in lieu of local plan review and the requirement for a local certified plan reviewer/inspector.
- Finally, the Workgroup also supports further research into expansion of the use of an Agreement in Lieu of a stormwater Plan (ALP) to non-residential sites between 2,500 square feet and an acre.
For more information, contact the VCPC at P.O. Box 8795, Williamsburg, Virginia 23187 | (757) 221-3783.