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Commonwealth's Counties

WQIF and SLAF bill moves on

Delegate David Bulova’s Water Quality Improvement Fund (WQIF) and Stormwater Local Assistance Fund (SLAF) began its journey through the 2019 session in the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources on Wednesday morning.

HB 1822 (Bulova), which VACo supports, does three key things:

First, it authorizes the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to authorize WQIF grants for the design and installation of certain wastewater conveyance infrastructure that (1) diverts wastewater from one publicly owned treatment works (that is already eligible for WQIF grant funding) to another publicly owned treatment works (that is also already eligible for WQIF grant funding); (2) diverts wastewater to a receiving treatment works that is capable of achieving compliance with its nutrient reduction or ammonia control discharge requirements and results in a net reduction in total phosphorus, total nitrogen, or nitrogen-containing ammonia discharges; and (3) results in a WQIF expense that is the same as or lower than the expense the DEQ would incur in funding design and installation of eligible nutrient removal or other applicable treatment technology at such treatment works that would have treated the wastewater in the absence of the diversion project.

Currently law would prohibit WQIF funding for this conveyance (piping) infrastructure, and instead only the treatment facilities would be eligible for funding to upgrade their systems. The bill provides localities a much more efficient and cost-effective means to accomplish their wastewater treatment goals.

Secondly, HB 1822 directs the DEQ to consult with stakeholders (including local governments representatives) annually to estimate the amount of WQIF grant funding that local governments are expected to request during the upcoming year. In other words, it requires the DEQ to annually perform a needs assessment.

Finally, HB 1822 directs the DEQ to consult with stakeholders and perform an annual needs assessment for SLAF funding.

HB 1822 was heard by the House Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee #3 early Wednesday morning.  The Subcommittee reacted favorably to the legislation, recommending that the bill be reported and rereferred. Ultimately, the full Committee passed the bill 22-0 and referred it to the House Appropriations Committee.

VACo spoke in favor of HB 1822, and will continue to support this bill in the House Appropriations Committee and later on the Senate side.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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