Stormwater runoff regulations delayed

By Heather Sullivan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - New developments in the controversial stormwater runoff regulations. The Department of Conservation and Recreation is putting them on hold and a state delegate has proposed a bill to delay them further. What does this mean for builders? And for the Chesapeake Bay?

DCR adopted new stormwater runoff regulations in December to further limit the amount of pollution, such as oil, phosphorous, and nitrogen, that can run off of new parking lots, homes and buildings into waterways. But after an outcry from builders and businesses that they regulations will be too expensive, the measures are now being delayed.

DCR decided to hold another 30-day public comment period after receiving 25 letters from builders and developers. The Home Builders Association of Virginia says because the Federal EPA will also issue new stormwater runoff regulations in a year, builders may slow or halt construction until they know which rules to follow.

Said Barrett Hardiman with the Home Builders Association of Virginia, "There are a lot of uncertainties because of this regulation taking effect and the EPA working on this new TMDL, really could be in a situation where we have new regulations in six months and new regulations again in another six months."

And State Delegate Tim Hugo of Fairfax has proposed a bill to delay the state regulations until the EPA issues its regulations. Said Hugo, "What's happening is that business is saying we just don't know which way to go on this. What's going to happen is they're going to stop construction. What that really means is its going to cost us jobs."

Hugo and the HBAV say new EPA studies released in October show the state's new runoff limits are stricter than necessary. Said Hugo, "In October, EPA issued that Virginia is very close to meeting its nutrient requirements for the Chesapeake Bay, so we're doing very well."

DCR had already set aside a stringent limit on phosphorus based on the EPA findings. It has no comment on Hugo's proposed delay.

Meanwhile, many environmentalists say more regulations are still needed to clean up the bay. Said Chris French with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, "The new regulations will help address an area that has not been adequately dealt with in the past.... I think most people in the conservation community would rather see something happen sooner than later."

The Department of Conservation and Recreation is taking public comment on the regulations for 30 days.

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