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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 4. Conservation And Natural Resources
Agency 25. Department of Energy
Chapter 150. Virginia Gas and Oil Regulation
10/27/2021

4VAC25-150-260. Erosion, sediment control and reclamation.

A. Applicability. Permittees shall meet the erosion and sediment control standards of this section whenever there is a ground disturbance for a gas, oil or geophysical operation. Permittees shall reclaim the land to the standards of this section after the ground-disturbing activities are complete and the land will not be used for further permitted activities.

B. Erosion and sediment control plan. Applicants for a permit shall submit an erosion and sediment control plan as part of their operations plan. The plan shall describe how erosion and sedimentation will be controlled and how reclamation will be achieved.

C. Erosion and sediment control standards. Whenever ground is disturbed for a gas, oil or geophysical operation, the following erosion and sediment control standards shall be met.

1. All trees, shrubs and other vegetation shall be cleared as necessary before any blasting, drilling, or other site construction, including road construction, begins.

a. Cleared vegetation shall be either removed from the site, properly stacked on the permitted site for later use, burned, or placed in a brush barrier if needed to control erosion and sediment control. Only that material necessary for the construction of the permitted site shall be cleared. When used as a brush barrier, the cleared vegetation shall be cut and windrowed below a disturbed area so that the brush barrier will effectively control sediment migration from the disturbed area. The material shall be placed in a compact and uniform manner within the brush barrier and not perpendicular to the brush barrier. Brush barriers shall be constructed so that any concentrated flow created by the barrier is released into adequately protected outlets and adequate channels. Large diameter trunks, limbs, and stumps that may render the brush barrier ineffective for sediment control shall not be placed in the brush barrier.

b. During construction, soil sufficient to provide a suitable growth medium for permanent stabilization with vegetation shall be used to stabilize the site in accordance with the standards of subdivisions C 2 and C 3 of this section.

2. Except as provided for in subdivisions C 5 and C 12 c of this section, permanent or temporary stabilization measures shall be applied to denuded areas within 30 days of achievement of final grade on the site unless the area will be redisturbed within 30 days.

a. If no activity occurs on a site for a period of 30 consecutive days then stabilization measures shall be applied to denuded areas within seven days of the last day of the 30-day period.

b. Temporary stabilization measures shall be applied to denuded areas that may not be at final grade but will be left inactive for one year or less.

c. Permanent stabilization measures shall be applied to denuded areas that are to be left inactive for more than one year.

3. A permanent vegetative cover shall be established on denuded areas to achieve permanent stabilization on areas not otherwise permanently stabilized. Permanent vegetation shall not be considered established until a ground cover is uniform, mature enough to survive and will inhibit erosion.

4. Temporary sediment control structures such as basins, traps, berms or sediment barriers shall be constructed prior to beginning other ground-disturbing activity and shall be maintained until the site is stabilized.

5. Stabilization measures shall be applied to earthen structures such as sumps, diversions, dikes, berms and drainage windows within 30 days of installation.

6. Sediment basins.

a. Surface runoff from disturbed areas that is composed of flow from drainage areas greater than or equal to three acres shall be controlled by a sediment basin. The sediment basin shall be designed and constructed to accommodate the anticipated sediment loading from the ground-disturbing activity. The spillway or outfall system design shall take into account the total drainage area flowing through the disturbed area to be served by the basin.

b. If surface runoff that is composed of flow from other drainage areas is separately controlled by other erosion and sediment control measures, then the other drainage area is not considered when determining whether the three-acre limit has been reached and a sediment basin is required.

7. Cut and fill slopes shall be designed and constructed in a manner that will minimize erosion. No trees, shrubs, stumps or other woody material shall be placed in fill.

8. Concentrated runoff shall not flow down cut or fill slopes unless contained within an adequate temporary or permanent channel, flume or slope drain structure.

9. Whenever water seeps from a slope face, adequate drainage or other protection shall be provided.

10. All storm sewer inlets that are made operable during construction shall be protected so that sediment-laden water cannot enter the conveyance system without first being filtered or otherwise treated to remove sediment.

11. Before newly constructed stormwater conveyance channels or pipes are made operational, adequate outlet protection and any required temporary or permanent channel lining shall be installed in both the conveyance channel and receiving channel.

12. Live watercourses.

a. When any construction required for erosion and sediment control, reclamation or stormwater management must be performed in a live watercourse, precautions shall be taken to minimize encroachment, control sediment transport and stabilize the work area. Nonerodible material shall be used for the construction of causeways and cofferdams. Earthen fill may be used for these structures if armored by nonerodible cover materials.

b. When the same location in a live watercourse must be crossed by construction vehicles more than twice in any six-month period, a temporary stream crossing constructed of nonerodible material shall be provided.

c. The bed and banks of a watercourse shall be stabilized immediately after work in the watercourse is completed.

13. If more than 500 linear feet of trench is to be open at any one time on any continuous slope, ditchline barriers shall be installed at intervals no more than the distance in the following table and prior to entering watercourses or other bodies of water.

Distance Barrier Spacing

Percent of Grade

Spacing of Ditchline Barriers in Feet

3–5

135

6–10

80

11–15

60

16+

40

14. Where construction vehicle access routes intersect a paved or public road, provisions, such as surfacing the road, shall be made to minimize the transport of sediment by vehicular tracking onto the paved surface. Where sediment is transported onto a paved or public road surface, the road surface shall be cleaned by the end of the day.

15. The design and construction or reconstruction of roads shall incorporate appropriate limits for grade, width, surface materials, surface drainage control, culvert placement, culvert size, and any other necessary design criteria required by the director to ensure control of erosion, sedimentation and runoff, and safety appropriate for their planned duration and use. This shall include, at a minimum, that roads are to be located, designed, constructed, reconstructed, used, maintained and reclaimed so as to:

a. Control or prevent erosion and siltation by vegetating or otherwise stabilizing all exposed surfaces in accordance with current, prudent engineering practices;

b. Control runoff to minimize downstream sedimentation and flooding; and

c. Use nonacid or nontoxic substances in road surfacing.

16. Unless approved by the director, all temporary erosion and sediment control measures shall be removed within 30 days after final site stabilization or after the temporary measures are no longer needed. Trapped sediment and the disturbed soil areas resulting from the disposition of temporary measures shall be permanently stabilized within the permitted area to prevent further erosion and sedimentation.

D. Final reclamation standards.

1. All equipment, structures or other facilities not required for monitoring the site or permanently marking an abandoned well or corehole shall be removed from the site, unless otherwise approved by the director.

2. Each gathering line abandoned in place, unless otherwise agreed to be removed under a right-of-way or lease agreement, shall be disconnected from all sources and supplies of natural gas and petroleum, purged of liquid hydrocarbons, depleted to atmospheric pressure, and cut off three feet below ground surface, or at the depth of the gathering line, whichever is less, and sealed at the ends. The operator shall provide to the division documentation of the methods used, the date and time the pipeline was purged and abandoned.

3. If final stabilization measures are being applied to access roads or ground-disturbed pipeline rights-of-way, or if the rights-of-way will not be redisturbed for a period of 30 days, water bars shall be placed across them at 30-degree angles at the head of all pitched grades and at intervals no more than the distance in the following table:

Percent of Grade

Spacing of Water Bars in Feet

3–5

135

6–10

80

11–15

60

16+

40

4. The permittee shall notify the division when the site has been graded and seeded for final reclamation in accordance with subdivision C 3 of this section. Notice may be given orally or in writing. The vegetative cover shall be successfully maintained for a period of two years after notice has been given before the site is eligible for bond release.

5. If the land disturbed during gas, oil or geophysical operations will not be reclaimed with permanent vegetative cover as provided for in subsection C of this section, the permittee or applicant shall request a variance to these reclamation standards and propose alternate reclamation standards and an alternate schedule for bond release.

E. The director may waive or modify any of the requirements of this section that are deemed inappropriate or too restrictive for site conditions. A permittee requesting a variance shall, in writing, document the need for the variance and describe the alternate measures or practices to be used. Specific variances allowed by the director shall become part of the operations plan. The director shall consider variance requests judiciously, keeping in mind both the need of the applicant to maximize cost effectiveness and the need to protect off-site properties and resources from damage.

Statutory Authority

§§ 45.1-161.3 and 45.1-361.27 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR480-05-22.1 § 1.26, eff. September 25, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 15, Issue 2, eff. November 11, 1998; Volume 29, Issue 3, eff. November 8, 2012; Volume 30, Issue 1, eff. October 10, 2013.

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