Volume 25, Number 6 ● March 23, 2017
2017 Virginia Legislation Summary
The Virginia General Assembly closed its 2017 Session on February 25, having passed four bills relevant to water quality management. Stormwater program changes, stormwater management alternatives, balancing nutrient caps with economic development, and professional licensure requirements were addressed in this year’s 30-day session.
House Bill 1774: Stormwater management; work group to examine ways to improve
House Bill 1774 has two outcomes: a delayed effective date of July 1, 2018 and a new workgroup
- The stormwater laws from the 2016 Session (HB 1250 and SB 673) addressing program consolidation and opt-outs will be effective July 1, 2018 rather than July 1, 2017.
- A work group will evaluate alternative stormwater management methods for rural Tidewater localities. The group, which will report findings to the Governor and General Assembly by the end of this year, will be comprised of “representatives of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Old Dominion University, the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Chesapeake Bay Commission, local governments, environmental interests, private mitigation providers, the agriculture industry, the engineering and development communities, and other stakeholders as determined necessary.” It will be convened by the Commonwealth Center for Recurrent Flooding Resiliency and directed by the College of William & Mary’s Virginia Coastal Policy Center.
Bill status: Governor approved, March 13, 2017.
House Bill 2311: Nutrient Offset Fund; sale of credits
House Bill 2311 is a follow up to recommendations made by the Secretary of Natural Resources’ committee to reconcile effective nutrient caps with economic development.
The bill directs the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to:
- Use the Nutrient Offset Fund to acquire point and non-point nutrient credits from those who achieve reductions beyond their state or federal requirements, including the Watershed Implementation Plan developed for the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load;
- Make those credits available for sale to new or expanding private facilities; and
- Develop a procedure to ensure that the practices paid for by the Fund will achieve the necessary reduction for the term of the credit (i.e., get the Fund’s money’s worth).
This bill also renames nutrient offsets as nutrient credits and defines them as load allocations and point and nonpoint source nitrogen and phosphorus credits (by adding nonpoint source credits the legislation removes a past emphasis on facilities that generate electricity from animal waste).
Bill status: Governor approved, March 16, 2017.
These two bills direct Virginia’s State Water Control Board to develop and implement regulations to ensure that a licensed professional signs and seals “all final plan elements, specifications, or calculations whose preparation requires a license in engineering, architecture, soil science, or a related profession.”
July 1, 2018 is the deadline for implementation of those new regulations. (WSSI is already in compliance with this mandate, and will continue to have licensed professional staff completing that work.)
Bill status: Governor approved, February 13, 2017.