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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 9. Environment
Agency 25. State Water Control Board
Chapter 31. Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (VPDES) Permit Regulation

9VAC25-31-290. Public notice of permit actions and public comment period.

A. Scope.

1. The department shall give public notice that the following actions have occurred:

a. A draft permit has been prepared under 9VAC25-31-260 D;

b. A public hearing has been scheduled under 9VAC25-31-310; or

c. A VPDES new source determination has been made under 9VAC25-31-180.

2. No public notice is required when a request for permit modification, revocation and reissuance, or termination is denied under 9VAC25-31-370 B. Written notice of that denial shall be given to the requester and to the permittee.

3. Public notice shall not be required for submission or approval of plans and specifications or conceptual engineering reports not required to be submitted as part of the application.

4. Public notices may describe more than one permit or permit actions.

B. Timing.

1. Public notice of the preparation of a draft permit required under subsection A of this section shall allow at least 30 days for public comment.

2. Public notice of a public hearing shall be given at least 30 days before the hearing. (Public notice of the hearing may be given at the same time as public notice of the draft permit and the two notices may be combined.)

C. Methods. Public notice of activities described in subdivision A 1 of this section shall be given by the following methods:

1. By mailing, either by electronic or postal delivery, a copy of a notice to the following persons (any person otherwise entitled to receive notice under this subdivision may waive his rights to receive notice for any classes and categories of permits):

a. The applicant (except for VPDES general permits when there is no applicant);

b. Any other agency which the department knows has issued or is required to issue a VPDES, biosolids management permit;

c. Federal and state agencies with jurisdiction over fish, shellfish, and wildlife resources and over coastal zone management plans, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, State Historic Preservation Officers, including any affected states (Indian Tribes);

d. Any state agency responsible for plan development under § 208(b)(2), § 208(b)(4) or § 303(e) of the CWA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Marine Fisheries Service;

e. Any user identified in the permit application of a privately owned treatment works;

f. Persons on a mailing list developed by:

(1) Including those who request in writing to be on the list;

(2) Soliciting persons for area lists from participants in past permit proceedings in that area; and

(3) Notifying the public of the opportunity to be put on the mailing list through periodic publication in the public press and in such publications as EPA regional and state funded newsletters, environmental bulletins, or state law journals. (The department may update the mailing list from time to time by requesting written indication of continued interest from those listed. The department may delete from the list the name of any person who fails to respond to such a request.);

g. Any unit of local government having jurisdiction over the area where the facility is proposed to be located; and

h. Each state agency having any authority under state law with respect to the construction or operation of such facility;

2. Except for permits for concentrated animal feeding operations as defined in 9VAC25-31-10 or designated in accordance with 9VAC25-31-130 B, by publication once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the area affected by the discharge. However, if the applicant so chooses for industrial minor permit actions, an abbreviated public notice shall be published in such newspaper, listing the name of the permitted facility, the type of discharge, and a link to the department's website where the full public notice consistent with subsection D of this section is posted. The cost of public notice shall be paid by the owner; and

3. Any other method reasonably calculated to give actual notice of the action in question to the persons potentially affected by it, including press releases or any other forum or medium to elicit public participation.

D. Contents.

1. All public notices issued under this part shall contain the following minimum information:

a. Name and address of the office processing the permit action for which notice is being given;

b. Name and address of the permittee or permit applicant and, if different, of the facility or activity regulated by the permit, except in the case of VPDES draft general permits;

c. A brief description of the business conducted at the facility or activity described in the permit application or the draft permit, for VPDES general permits when there is no application;

d. Name, address, and telephone number of a person from whom interested persons may obtain further information, including copies of the draft permit or draft general permit, as the case may be, statement of basis or fact sheet, and the application;

e. A brief description of the procedures for submitting comments and the time and place of any public hearing that will be held, including a statement of procedures to request a public hearing (unless a hearing has already been scheduled) and other procedures by which the public may participate in the final permit decision;

f. A general description of the location of each existing or proposed discharge point, the name of the receiving water, the biosolids use and sewage sludge disposal practice, the location of each sludge treatment works treating domestic sewage, and use or disposal sites known at the time of permit application. For draft general permits, this requirement will be satisfied by a map or description of the permit area;

g. Requirements applicable to cooling water intake structures under § 316 of the CWA, in accordance with 9VAC25-31-165; and

h. Any additional information considered necessary or proper.

2. In addition to the general public notice described in subdivision 1 of this subsection, the public notice of a public hearing under 9VAC25-31-310 shall contain the following information:

a. Reference to the date of previous public notices relating to the permit;

b. Date, time, and place of the public hearing;

c. A brief description of the nature and purpose of the public hearing, including the applicable rules and procedures; and

d. A concise statement of the issues raised by the persons requesting the public hearing.

3. Public notice of a VPDES draft permit for a discharge where a request for alternate thermal effluent limitations has been filed shall include:

a. A statement that the thermal component of the discharge is subject to effluent limitations incorporated in 9VAC25-31-30 and a brief description, including a quantitative statement, of the thermal effluent limitations proposed under §§ 301 or 306 of the CWA;

b. A statement that an alternate thermal effluent limitation request has been filed and that alternative less stringent effluent limitations may be imposed on the thermal component of the discharge under the law and § 316(a) of the CWA and a brief description, including a quantitative statement, of the alternative effluent limitations, if any, included in the request; and

c. If the applicant has filed an early screening request for a CWA § 316(a) variance, a statement that the applicant has submitted such a plan.

E. In addition to the general public notice described in subdivision D 1 of this section, all persons identified in subdivisions C 1 a, b, c, and d of this section shall be mailed, by electronic or postal delivery, a copy of the fact sheet or statement of basis, the permit application (if any) and the draft permit (if any).

F. Upon receipt of an application for the issuance of a new or modified permit other than those for agricultural production or aquacultural production activities, the department shall:

1. Notify, in writing, the locality wherein the discharge or, as applicable, the associated land application of biosolids, or land disposal of treated sewage, stabilized sewage sludge, or stabilized septage does or is proposed to take place of, at a minimum:

a. The name of the applicant;

b. The nature of the application and proposed discharge;

c. The availability and timing of any comment period; and

d. Upon request, any other information known to, or in the possession of, the department regarding the applicant not required to be held confidential by this chapter.

2. Except for land application of biosolids or land disposal of treated sewage, stabilized sewage sludge or stabilized septage make a good faith effort to provide this same notice and information to (i) each locality and riparian property owner to a distance one-quarter mile downstream and one-quarter mile upstream or to the fall line whichever is closer on tidal waters and (ii) each locality and riparian property owner to a distance one-half mile downstream on nontidal waters. Distances shall be measured from the point, or proposed point, of discharge. If the receiving river at the point or proposed point of discharge is two miles wide or greater, the riparian property owners on the opposite shore need not be notified. Notice to property owners shall be based on names and addresses taken from local tax rolls. Such names and addresses shall be provided by the commissioners of the revenue or the tax assessor's office of the affected jurisdictions upon request by the department.

G. Whenever the department receives an application for a new permit for land application of biosolids or land disposal of treated sewage, stabilized sewage sludge, or stabilized septage, or an application to reissue with the addition of sites increasing acreage by 50% or more of that authorized by the initial permit, the department shall establish a date for a public meeting to discuss technical issues relating to proposals for land application of biosolids or land disposal of treated sewage, stabilized sewage sludge, or stabilized septage. The department shall give notice of the date, time, and place of the public meeting and a description of the proposal by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the city or county where the proposal is to take place. Public notice of the scheduled meeting shall occur no fewer than seven or more than 14 days prior to the meeting. The department shall not issue the permit until the public meeting has been held and comment has been received from the local governing body or until 30 days have lapsed from the date of the public meeting.

H. Following the submission of an application for a new permit for land application of biosolids or land disposal of treated sewage, stabilized sewage sludge, or stabilized septage, the department shall make a good faith effort to notify or cause to be notified persons residing on property bordering the sites that contain the proposed land application fields. This notification shall be in a manner selected by the department. For the purposes of this subsection, "site" means all contiguous land under common ownership, but which may contain more than one tax parcel.

I. Following the submission of an application to add a site that is not contiguous to sites included in an existing permit authorizing the land application of biosolids:

1. The department shall notify persons residing on property bordering such site and shall receive written comments from those persons for a period of 30 days. Based upon written comments, the department shall determine whether additional site-specific requirements should be included in the authorization for land application at the site.

2. An application for any permit amendment to increase the acreage authorized by the initial permit by 50% or more shall be considered a major modification and shall be treated as a new application for purposes of public notice and public hearings. The increase in acreage for the purpose of determining the need for the public meeting is the sum of all acreage that has been added to the permit since the last public meeting, plus that proposed to be added.

J. Before issuing any permit, if the department finds that there are localities particularly affected by the permit, the department shall:

1. Publish, or require the applicant to publish, a notice in a local paper of general circulation in the localities affected at least 30 days prior to the close of any public comment period. Such notice shall contain a statement of the estimated local impact of the proposed permit, which at a minimum shall include information on the specific pollutants involved and the total quantity of each which may be discharged.

2. Mail, by electronic or postal delivery, the notice to the chief elected official and chief administrative officer and planning district commission for those localities.

3. Accept written comments for at least 15 days after any public hearing on the permit, unless the department shortens the period.

4. For the purposes of this section, consider the term "locality particularly affected" to mean any locality that bears any identified disproportionate material water quality impact that would not be experienced by other localities.

Statutory Authority

§ 62.1-44.15 of the Code of Virginia; § 402 of the Clean Water Act; 40 CFR Parts 122, 123, 124, 403, and 503.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 12, Issue 20, eff. July 24, 1996; amended, Virginia Register Volume 14, Issue 9, eff. March 1, 1998; Volume 22, Issue 24, eff. September 6, 2006; Volume 24, Issue 6, eff. January 1, 2008; Volume 29, Issue 24, eff. September 1, 2013; Volume 35, Issue 4, eff. November 14, 2018; Volume 39, Issue 4, eff. November 9, 2022.

Website addresses provided in the Virginia Administrative Code to documents incorporated by reference are for the reader's convenience only, may not necessarily be active or current, and should not be relied upon. To ensure the information incorporated by reference is accurate, the reader is encouraged to use the source document described in the regulation.

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