Stormwater a Hot Issue during 2017 General Assembly Session

January 20, 2017

HB 1774 (Hodges) is a complex stormwater bill that is likely to undergo some significant changes before it is presented to the Chesapeake Subcommittee of the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee. As introduced, HB 1774 allows local governments that “opt out” of managing their own stormwater programs to establish a “rural development growth area” (RDGA) where land erosion and sediment control requirements would be conformed to MS-19 regulations.

For localities in Planning District 18, the bill authorizes the establishment of a Regional Stormwater Practices Bank (RSP). Perhaps the bill’s most significant provision requires the State Water Control Board to “administer all Virginia programs for erosion control and stormwater management for portions of such a locality except those areas that are designated as RDGA.”  This provision appears to close the so-called “donut hole” problem for counties that chose to “opt out” of managing local stormwater programs under HB 1173 (Hodges) and SB 423 (Hanger) that passed the General Assembly back in 2014.

The “donut hole” is an unintended loophole created by the aforementioned 2014 legislation that requires “opt out” localities to perform stormwater functions for land disturbances between 2,500 square feet to an acre in areas covered by the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act (CBPA); and land disturbances between 10,000 square feet and one acre in areas not subject to CBPA. One of VACo’s chief objectives in the 2017 General Assembly Session is to close the “donut hole.”

VACo is working in support of HB 1774. The bill has attracted much attention not only from VACo but from such other diverse groups as the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Homebuilders Association of Virginia.

Delegate Keith Hodges is also sponsoring HB 2009 (Hodges), which authorizes local governments managing their local stormwater programs (or “opt in” localities) to hire certified third-party professionals to administer any or all aspects of their respective stormwater programs and erosion and sediment control programs. On January 18, HB 2009 was unanimously reported by the Chesapeake Subcommittee of the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee. VACo testified in support of HB 2009.

VACo will continue to report on the progress of all significant stormwater bills that the General Assembly will consider this session.

VACo Members – Share your thoughts on FlagPoll.

VACo Contact: Larry Land, CAE

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