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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 9. Environment
Agency 25. State Water Control Board
Chapter 380. Wetlands Policy
8/4/2020

9VAC25-380-20. the Wetland Resource.

A. Wetlands represent an ecosystem of unique and major importance to the citizens of this Commonwealth and, as a result, they require extraordinary protection. Comparable destructive forces would be expected to inflict more lasting damage to them than to other ecosystems. The Constitution of Virginia establishes a strong policy of natural resource protection. The General Assembly has recognized the importance of wetlands in its policy set forth in Title 28.2, Chapter 13 of the Code of Virginia and, the General Assembly has provided in Title 62.1, Chapter 3.1 of the Code of Virginia (The State Water Control Law) that it is the policy of the Commonwealth to protect existing high quality state waters and restore all other state waters to such condition of quality that any such waters will support the propagation and growth of all aquatic life which might reasonably be expected to inhabit them. Through this policy statement, the board establishes appropriate safeguards for the preservation and protection of the wetland resource from the damage caused by inappropriate discharges to the waters of the state which wash over the wetlands.

B. The wetlands of the Commonwealth, including marshes, swamps, bogs, and other low-lying areas, which during some period of the year will be covered in part by natural non-flood waters, are a unique, valuable, and irreplaceable natural resource. They serve as a habitat for important fur-bearing mammals, many species of fish, and waterfowl. Such areas moderate extremes in water flow, aid in the natural purification of water, and maintain and recharge the groundwater resource. They are the nursery areas for a great number of wildlife and aquatic species of significant commercial and recreational value to the citizens of the Commonwealth, and serve at times as the source of valuable harvestable timber. They are unique recreational areas, high in aesthetic value, that contain delicate and irreplaceable specimens of fauna and flora and support fishing, as well as wildfowl and other hunting.

C. Fresh water wetlands support the adjacent or downstream aquatic ecosystem in addition to the complex web of life that has developed within the wetland environment. The relationship of the fresh water wetland to the subsurface environment is symbiotic, intricate, and fragile. In the tidal wetland areas the tides tend to redistribute the nutrients and sediments throughout the tidal marsh and these in turn form a substrate for the life supported by the tidal marsh. These marshes produce large quantities of plant life that are the source of much of the organic matter consumed by shellfish and other aquatic life in associated estuaries.

D. Protection of wetland areas requires the proper control of any construction activities and of non-point sources to prevent discharges which will impair the quality of the wetland area. Alteration in quantity or quality of the natural flow of water, which nourishes the ecosystem, should be minimized. The addition of harmful waste waters or nutrients contained in such waters should be kept below a level that will alter the natural, physical, chemical, or biological integrity of the wetland areas and that will ensure no significant increase in nuisance organisms through biostimulation.

Statutory Authority

§§ 62.1-44.15(10) and 62.1-44.36 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR680-11-02 § 1.02, eff. June 23, 1974.

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