Legislation that will be helpful to counties seeking to more effectively and efficiently achieve their water quality goals has now passed both chambers of the General Assembly and will be sent to the Governor for signing.
HB 1822 (Bulova) authorizes the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to authorize Water Quality Improvement Fund (WQIF) grants for the design and installation of certain wastewater conveyance infrastructure. More specifically, this bill provides Any such infrastructure shall (i) divert wastewater from one publicly owned treatment works that is eligible for grant funding to another such eligible treatment works; (ii) divert wastewater to a receiving treatment works that is capable of achieving compliance with its nutrient reduction or ammonia control discharge requirements and that results in a net reduction in total phosphorus, total nitrogen, or nitrogen-containing ammonia discharges; and (iii) result in no more expense to the Fund than would otherwise be incurred to install eligible nutrient removal technology or other treatment technology at the treatment works from which the wastewater will be diverted.
Current law prohibits WQIF funding for this conveyance infrastructure, and instead only the treatment facilities are eligible for funding to upgrade their systems. Thus, the changes proposed by HB 1822 would accomplish the same water quality goals but in a much more efficient and cost-effective fashion.
Beyond this change to WQIF eligibility, Delegate David Bulova’s bill has second a prong that is just as important to local governments. HB 1822 directs the DEQ to consult with stakeholders annually to estimate the amount of grant funding that local governments will request during the upcoming year from WQIF and the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund (SLAF) and to submit those estimates to the Governor as part of a biennial funding report and an annual progress report that are required by current law. This will be a highly effective way to annually highlight to the General Assembly and Governor’s Office just how great the need for SLAF and WQIF funding is, and how little localities have access to.
VACo supported HB 1822 and spoke in favor of the bill numerous times before the General Assembly.
VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.