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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 9. Environment
Agency 25. State Water Control Board
Chapter 210. Virginia Water Protection Permit Program Regulation

9VAC25-210-60. Exclusions.

The activities in this section do not require a VWP permit but may require other permits under state and federal law. Upon request by the department, any person claiming one of these exclusions shall demonstrate to the satisfaction of the department that he qualifies for the exclusion. Exclusions pertaining to surface water withdrawals are established in 9VAC25-210-310.

1. Discharges of dredged or fill material into state waters, except wetlands, which are addressed under a USACE Regional, General, or Nationwide Permit, and for which no § 401 Water Quality Certificate is required.

2. Any discharge of stormwater from municipal separate storm sewer systems or land disturbing activities authorized by 9VAC25-870, or the discharge of sewage, industrial wastes, or other wastes or any noxious or deleterious substances into surface waters that is authorized by a Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (VPDES) permit in accordance with 9VAC25-31 or a Virginia Pollution Abatement (VPA) permit in accordance with 9VAC25-32.

3. Any activity governed under Chapter 13 (§ 28.2-1300 et seq.) of Title 28.2 of the Code of Virginia, unless state certification is required by § 401 of the Clean Water Act. State certification is waived if the activity meets the provisions of subdivision 10 a of this section. The activity does not require a VWP permit pursuant to § 62.1-44.15:21 G of the Code of Virginia.

4. Normal residential gardening and lawn and landscape maintenance in a wetland, or other similar activity, that is incidental to an occupant's ongoing residential use of property and is of minimal ecological impact. The criteria governing this exclusion are set forth in the definition of "normal residential gardening and lawn and landscape maintenance" in 9VAC25-210-10.

5. Maintenance of currently serviceable structures, such as purpose-built stormwater and utility structures, transportation structures, dikes, groins, levees, dams, riprap breakwaters, causeways, or bridge abutments or approaches. Maintenance includes the emergency reconstruction of recently damaged parts but does not include modifications that change the character, scope, or size of the original design. If the original design is not available, the permittee shall submit the best available information on the design for consideration and approval by the department. In order to quality for this exclusion, emergency reconstruction shall occur as soon as practicable after damage occurs.

6. Impacts to open waters that do not have a detrimental effect on public health, animal life, or aquatic life or to the uses of such waters for domestic or industrial consumption, recreation, or other uses.

7. Flooding or back-flooding impacts to surface waters resulting from the construction of temporary sedimentation basins on a construction site when such structures are necessary for erosion and sediment control or stormwater management purposes.

8. Normal agriculture and silviculture activities in a wetland such as plowing; seeding; cultivating; minor drainage and harvesting for the production of food, fiber, and forest products; or upland soil and water conservation practices.

a. To fall under this exclusion, the activities specified in this subdivision 8 must be part of an established (i.e., ongoing) agriculture or silviculture operation, and must be in accordance with applicable best management practices set forth in either Forestry Best Management Practices for Water Quality in Virginia Technical Guide (Fourth Edition, July 2002) or Virginia Agricultural BMP Manual (2000), which facilitate compliance with the § 404(b)(1) Guidelines (40 CFR Part 230). Activities on areas lying fallow as part of a conventional, rotational cycle are part of an established operation.

b. Activities which bring a new area into agricultural or silvicultural use are not part of an established operation. An operation ceases to be established when the area in which it was conducted has been converted to another use or has lain idle so long that modifications to the hydrological regime are necessary to resume operation. If the activity takes place outside surface waters, it does not need a VWP permit, whether or not it is part of an established agriculture or silviculture operation.

c. For the purposes of this subdivision 8, cultivating, harvesting, minor drainage, plowing, and seeding are defined as follows:

(1) "Cultivating" means physical methods of soil treatment employed within established agriculture and silviculture lands on farm or forest crops to aid and improve their growth, quality, or yield.

(2) "Harvesting" means physical measures employed directly upon farm, forest, or crops within established agricultural and silviculture lands to bring about their removal from farm or forest land, but does not include the construction of farm or forest roads.

(3) "Minor drainage" means:

(a) The discharge of dredged or fill material incidental to connecting upland drainage facilities to surface waters, adequate to effect the removal of excess soil moisture from upland croplands. Construction and maintenance of upland (dryland) facilities, such as ditching and tiling, incidental to the planting, cultivating, protecting, or harvesting of crops;

(b) The discharge of dredged or fill material for the purpose of installing ditching or other water control facilities incidental to planting, cultivating, protecting, or harvesting of rice, or other wetland crop species, where these activities and the discharge occur in surface waters which are in established use for such agricultural and silviculture wetland crop production;

(c) The discharge of dredged or fill material for the purpose of manipulating the water levels of, or regulating the flow or distribution of water within, existing impoundments that have been constructed in accordance with applicable requirements of the Clean Water Act, and that are in established use for the production of rice, or other wetland crop species;

(d) The discharge of dredged or fill material incidental to the emergency removal of sandbars, gravel bars, or other similar blockages which are formed during flood flows or other events, where such blockages close or constrict previously existing drainageways and, if not promptly removed, would result in damage to or loss of existing crops or would impair or prevent the plowing, seeding, harvesting, or cultivating of crops on land in established use for crop production. Such removal does not include enlarging or extending the dimensions of, or changing the bottom elevations of, the affected drainageway as it existed prior to the formation of the blockage. Removal must be accomplished within one year after such blockages are discovered in order to be eligible for exclusion; and

(e) Minor drainage in surface waters is limited to drainage within areas that are part of an established agriculture or silviculture operation. It does not include drainage associated with the immediate or gradual conversion of a wetland to a nonwetland (for example, wetland species to upland species not typically adapted to life in saturated soil conditions), or conversion from one wetland use to another (for example, silviculture to agriculture). In addition, minor drainage does not include the construction of any canal, ditch, dike, or other waterway or structure which drains or otherwise significantly modifies a stream, lake, swamp, bog, or any other wetland or aquatic area constituting surface water. Any discharge of dredged or fill material into surface water incidental to the construction of any such structure or waterway requires a VWP permit, unless otherwise excluded or exempted by this chapter.

(4) "Plowing" means all forms of primary tillage, including moldboard, chisel, or wide-blade plowing, discing, harrowing, and similar physical means used on farm or forest land for the breaking up, cutting, turning over, or stirring of soil to prepare it for the planting of crops. Plowing does not include the redistribution of soil, rock, sand, or other surficial materials in a manner which changes any area of surface water to dry land. For example, the redistribution of surface materials by blading, grading, or other means to fill in wetland areas is not plowing. Rock crushing activities which result in the loss of natural drainage characteristics, the reduction of water storage and recharge capabilities, or the overburden of natural water filtration capacities does not constitute plowing. Plowing as described above will never involve a discharge of dredged or fill material.

(5) "Seeding" means the sowing of seed and placement of seedlings to produce farm or forest crops and includes the placement of soil beds for seeds or seedlings on established farm and forest lands.

9. Discharges of dredged or fill material into wetlands when addressed under a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Regional, General, or Nationwide Permit and that meet the provisions of subdivision 10 a of this section.

10. Construction or maintenance of farm ponds or impoundments, stock ponds or impoundments, or irrigation ditches, or the maintenance (but not construction) of drainage ditches.

a. The exclusion for the construction and maintenance of farm or stock ponds and farm or stock impoundments applies to those structures that are operated for normal agricultural or silvicultural purposes, and are less than 25 feet in height or create a maximum impoundment capacity smaller than 100 acre-feet.

b. The exclusion for the construction and maintenance of farm or stock ponds and farm or stock impoundments does not include the impacts associated with the withdrawal of surface water from, within, or behind such structures. A VWP permit may be required for the surface water withdrawal.

c. Discharge associated with siphons, pumps, headgates, wingwalls, weirs, diversion structures, and such other facilities as are appurtenant and functionally related to irrigation ditches are included in this exclusion.

d. The maintenance dredging of existing ditches is included in this exclusion provided that the final dimensions of the maintained ditch do not exceed the average dimensions of the original ditch. This exclusion does not apply to the construction of new ditches or to the channelization of streams.

11. Construction or maintenance of farm roads, forest roads, or temporary roads for moving mining equipment, where such roads are constructed and maintained in accordance with applicable best management practices (BMPs) set forth in either Forestry Best Management Practices for Water Quality in Virginia, Technical Guide, Fourth Edition, July 2002, or Virginia Agricultural BMP Manual, 2000, to ensure that flow and circulation patterns and chemical and biological characteristics of surface waters are not impaired, that the reach of such waters is not reduced, and that any adverse effect on the aquatic environment will otherwise be minimized. The BMPs which must be applied to satisfy this provision include the following baseline provisions:

a. Permanent roads (for agriculture or forestry activities), temporary access roads (for mining, forestry, or farm purposes), and skid trails (for logging) in surface waters shall be held to the minimum feasible number, width, and total length consistent with the purpose of specific agriculture, silviculture or mining operations, and local topographic and climatic conditions;

b. All roads, temporary or permanent, shall be located sufficiently far from streams or other water bodies (except for portions of such roads which must cross water bodies) to minimize discharges of dredged or fill material into surface waters;

c. The road fill shall be bridged, piped, culverted, or otherwise designed to prevent the restriction of expected flood flows;

d. The fill shall be properly stabilized and maintained to prevent erosion during and following construction;

e. Discharges of dredged or fill material into surface waters to construct road fill shall be made in a manner which minimizes the encroachment of trucks, tractors, bulldozers, or other heavy equipment within state waters (including adjacent wetlands) that lie outside the lateral boundaries of the fill itself;

f. In designing, constructing, and maintaining roads, vegetative disturbance in surface waters shall be kept to a minimum;

g. The design, construction, and maintenance of the road crossing shall not disrupt the migration or other movement of those species of aquatic life inhabiting the water body;

h. Borrow material shall be taken from upland sources whenever feasible;

i. The discharge shall not take, or jeopardize the continued existence of a state-listed or federally-listed threatened or endangered species as defined under the Endangered Species Act (16 USC § 1531 et seq.), in § 29.1-566 of the Code of Virginia and in 4VAC15-20-130 B and C, except as provided in § 29.1-568 of the Code of Virginia, or adversely modify or destroy the critical habitat of such species;

j. Discharges into the nesting and breeding areas for migratory waterfowl, spawning areas, and wetlands shall be avoided if practical on-site or off-site alternatives exist;

k. The discharge shall not be located in proximity of a public water supply or intake;

l. The discharge shall not occur in areas of concentrated shellfish production;

m. The discharge shall not occur in a component to the National Wild and Scenic River System;

n. The discharge material shall consist of suitable material free from toxic pollutants in toxic amounts; and

o. All temporary fills shall be removed in their entirety and the area restored to its original elevation.

12. Wetland and open water impacts to a stormwater management facility that was created on dry land for the purpose of conveying, treating, or storing stormwater.

Statutory Authority

§ 62.1-44.15 of the Code of Virginia; § 401 of the Clean Water Act (33 USC § 1251 et seq.).

Historical Notes

Derived from VR680-15-02 § 1.6, eff. May 20, 1992; amended, Virginia Register Volume 17, Issue 21, eff. August 1, 2001; Volume 23, Issue 21, eff. July 25, 2007; Volume 24, Issue 9, eff. February 6, 2008; Volume 25, Issue 5, eff. December 10, 2008; Volume 32, Issue 21, eff. August 2, 2016; Volume 35, Issue 4, eff. November 14, 2018; Volume 39, Issue 4, eff. November 9, 2022.

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