Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 3.2. Agriculture, Animal Care, and Food
Chapter 4. Agricultural Stewardship
1/24/2022

§ 3.2-402. Complaint; investigation; agricultural stewardship plan.

A. After April 1, 1997, upon receiving a complaint, unless the complaint was made anonymously, the Commissioner shall request that the directors of the district where the land lies determine the validity of the information within 21 days. The Commissioner may investigate or ask the directors of the district to investigate an anonymous complaint.

B. The district chairman may, on behalf of the district, act upon or reject the Commissioner's request. If the district declines to act, it shall within five days so advise the Commissioner, who shall determine the validity of the complaint.

C. If, after investigating a complaint, the Commissioner determines that substantial evidence exists to prove that an agricultural activity is creating or will create pollution, the Commissioner shall notify the owner or operator by registered mail, return receipt requested. If, after investigation, the Commissioner determines that the pollution is a direct result of unusual weather events or other exceptional circumstances that could not have been reasonably anticipated, or determines that the pollution is not a threat to human health, animal health, or aquatic life, water quality or recreational or other beneficial uses, the Commissioner may forego any additional action. Copies of the notice shall be sent to the district where the agricultural activity is located. The notice shall state that, within 60 days of the receipt of the notice, the owner or operator shall submit to the Commissioner and district an agricultural stewardship plan that includes stewardship measures needed to prevent or cease the pollution. The district shall review the plan and, if the plan includes such measures, the Commissioner shall approve the plan within 30 days after he receives it. Upon approving the owner's or operator's plan, the Commissioner shall inform the owner or operator and the complainant that a plan has been approved. The owner or operator shall begin implementing the approved agricultural stewardship plan within six months of the date that the owner or operator received the notice that the agricultural activity is creating or will create pollution.

D. The plan shall include an implementation schedule, and implementation of the plan shall be completed within a period specified by the Commissioner, based upon the seasons and other temporal considerations so that the period is that during which the possibility of success in establishment or construction of the measures required in the plan is the greatest, which shall not exceed 18 months from receipt of notice. The Commissioner may grant an extension of up to 180 days if: (i) a hardship exists; and (ii) the request for an extension was made not later than 60 days before the scheduled completion date. The Commissioner shall, within 30 days of receiving the request, inform the owner or operator whether or not an extension has been granted.

E. After implementing the approved plan according to the provisions of this chapter, the owner or operator shall maintain the stewardship measures established pursuant to the plan. The owner or operator may change the agricultural activity so long as the Commissioner is notified.

F. If the Commissioner determines that substantial evidence does not exist to prove that an agricultural activity is creating or will create pollution or that any pollution was caused by unusual weather events or other exceptional circumstances or that the pollution is not a threat to human health, animal health, or aquatic life or recreational or other beneficial uses, he shall inform the complainant and the owner or operator of his determination. Upon approving the owner's or operator's agricultural stewardship plan, the Commissioner shall inform the owner or operator and the complainant that a plan has been approved.

1996, c. 773, § 10.1-559.3; 2000, c. 973; 2008, c. 860.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.