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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 9. Environment
Agency 25. State Water Control Board
Chapter 670. Virginia Water Protection General Permit for Facilities and Activities of Utility and Public Service Companies Regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or the State Corporation Commission and Other Utility Line Activities

9VAC25-670-30. Authorization to impact surface waters.

A. Any person granted coverage under the VWP general permit effective August 2, 2016, may permanently or temporarily impact up to one acre of nontidal wetlands or open water and up to 1,500 linear feet of nontidal stream bed for facilities and activities of utilities and public service companies regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or the State Corporation Commission and other utility line activities, provided that:

1. The applicant submits notification as required in 9VAC25-670-50 and 9VAC25-670-60.

2. The applicant remits any required permit application fee.

3. The applicant receives general permit coverage from the Department of Environmental Quality and complies with the limitations and other requirements of the VWP general permit; the general permit coverage letter; the Clean Water Act, as amended; and the State Water Control Law and attendant regulations.

4. The applicant has not been required to obtain a VWP individual permit under 9VAC25-210 for the proposed project impacts. The applicant, at his discretion, may seek a VWP individual permit or coverage under another applicable VWP general permit in lieu of this VWP general permit.

5. Impacts, both temporary and permanent, result from a single and complete project, including all attendant features.

a. Where a utility line has multiple crossings of surface waters (several single and complete projects) with more than minimal impacts, the department may at its discretion require a VWP individual permit for the project.

b. Where an access road segment (e.g., the shortest segment of a road with independent utility that is part of a larger project) has multiple crossings of surface waters (several single and complete projects), the department may, at its discretion, require a VWP individual permit.

6. The stream impact criterion applies to all components of the project, including any structures and stream channel manipulations.

7. When functions of surface waters are permanently adversely affected, such as for conversion of forested to emergent wetlands in a permanently maintained utility right-of-way, compensation shall be required for impacts outside of a 20-foot wide permanently maintained corridor. Compensation shall not be required for impacts within the 20-foot wide portion of permanently maintained corridor. For example, with a 50-foot wide, permanently maintained corridor, compensation on each side of the 20-foot portion would be required for impacts that occur between the 20-foot and the 50-foot marks.

8. When required, compensation for unavoidable impacts is provided in accordance with § 62.1-44.15:23 of the Code of Virginia, 9VAC25-670-70, and 9VAC25-210-116.

B. Activities that may be granted coverage under this VWP general permit include the following:

1. The construction, maintenance, or repair of utility lines, including outfall structures and the excavation, backfill, or bedding for utility lines provided there is no change in preconstruction contours.

2. The construction, maintenance, or expansion of a substation facility or pumping station associated with a power line or utility line.

3. The construction or maintenance of foundations for overhead utility line towers, poles, or anchors, provided the foundations are the minimum size necessary and separate footings for each tower leg (rather than a single pad) are used where feasible.

4. The construction of access roads for the construction or maintenance of utility lines including overhead power lines and utility line substations, provided the activity in combination with any substation does not exceed the threshold limit of this VWP general permit.

C. The board waives the requirement for coverage under a VWP general permit for activities that occur in an isolated wetland of minimal ecological value, as defined in 9VAC25-210-10. Upon request by the department, any person claiming this waiver shall demonstrate to the satisfaction of the department that he qualifies for the waiver.

D. Coverage under this VWP general permit does not relieve the permittee of the responsibility to comply with any other applicable federal, state, or local statute, ordinance, or regulation.

E. Coverage under a nationwide or regional permit promulgated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and for which the department has issued § 401 certification in accordance with 9VAC25-210-130 H as of August 2, 2016, shall constitute coverage under this VWP general permit unless (i) a state program general permit (SPGP) is required and granted for the activity or impact; or (ii) coverage under a VWP general permit is not allowed pursuant to subdivision D 2 of § 62.1-44.15:21 of the State Water Control Law.

F. When the department determines on a case-by-case basis that concerns for water quality and the aquatic environment so indicate, the department may require a VWP individual permit in accordance with 9VAC25-210-130 B rather than granting coverage under this VWP general permit.

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 Virginia Register Volume 17, Issue 22, eff. October 1, 2001; amended, Virginia Register Volume 21, Issue 8, eff. January 26, 2005; Volume 22, Issue 21, eff. August 1, 2006; Volume 32, Issue 21, eff. August 2, 2016; Volume 35, Issue 4, eff. November 14, 2018; Volume 38, Issue 1, eff. September 29, 2021; Volume 39, Issue 4, eff. November 9, 2022.

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