Governor Northam approves Delegate Hodges’ stormwater workgroup bills

March 14, 2018

Two bills drafted upon the recommendations of Delegate Keith Hodges’ Stormwater Workgroup have been signed into law by Governor Ralph Northam.

HB 1307 (Hodges) and HB 1308 (Hodges) were drafted to address rural Tidewater localities’ concerns regarding the administration of stormwater regulations for land disturbances of 2,500 square feet to one acre and to find alternative means for managing and treating stormwater in the applicable localities.  Each bill was the result of a year’s worth of meetings and work by Delegate Hodges and the stakeholder members of the HB 1774 Workgroup (so named after Delegate Hodges’ 2017 legislation that created the group).

HB 1307 allows any rural Tidewater locality, as defined in the bill, to comply with water quantity technical criteria for certain land-disturbing activities through a tiered approach that is based on the percentage of impervious cover in the watershed.  The bill provides that any project whose construction would cause the watershed in which it is located to step up to the next higher tier shall be evaluated under the energy balance method or a more stringent alternative.  Finally, HB 1307 also directs the Department of Environmental Quality to use an appropriate new or existing Regulatory Advisory Panel to assist in clarifying the interpretation and application of the MS-19 standard.

HB 1308 authorizes any rural Tidewater locality, whether or not it has opted out of administering a stormwater or erosion and sediment control program, to require that a licensed professional retained by the applicant submit a set of signed, sealed, and certified plans (and supporting calculations) for land-disturbing activities that disturb 2,500 square feet or more but less than one acre of land. The bill also directs the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to examine the possibility of expanding the use of the agreement in lieu of a stormwater management plan, currently authorized for use in the construction of certain single-family residences, to include any nonresidential development site of less than one acre in a rural Tidewater locality.

Each of these two bills saw widespread support from the General Assembly.  In their final forms, HB 1307 passed the House 99-0 and the Senate 40-0, while HB 1308 passed the House 96-1 and the Senate 40-0.  Both bills were signed by Governor Northam on March 5, 2018 and will take effect July 1, 2018.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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