New erosion and sediment control practices for solar projects proposed in the Senate

January 21, 2021

New erosion and sediment control practices for solar projects have found early success in the Senate, reporting out of the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee, 15-0.

SB 1258 (Marsden) makes changes to § 62.1-44.15:55.1. of the Code of Virginia, which deals with localities and solar projects.  Specifically, SB 1258 requires that the State Water Control Board administer a Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control Program (VESCP) on behalf of any locality that notifies the Department of Environmental Quality that it has chosen not to administer a VESCP for a solar project larger than 5 megawatts.

In such cases, the State Water Control Board shall implement a VESCP to manage the erosion and sediment from stormwater runoff resulting from any land-disturbing activity that disturbs one acre or more of land or disturbs less than one acre of land and is part of a larger common plan of development or sale that results in one acre or greater of land disturbance, as required by this article. No person shall conduct a land-disturbing activity unless he has obtained land-disturbance approval from the VESCP authority and, if required, submitted to the Department an application that includes a permit registration statement and stormwater management plan, and the Department has issued permit coverage.  Finally, the Board-administered VESCP shall include permit requirements and requirements for plan review, inspection, and enforcement that reflect analogous stormwater management requirements for a VESCP set forth in the Code.

SB 1258 was heard and reported out on January 19 by the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee.  The bill has been rereferred to the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee.

VACo has no position on SB 1258 provided it remains a local option.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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