Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 10.1. Conservation
Chapter 11.1. Department of Environmental Quality

Article 3. Watershed Planning and Permitting Promotion and Coordination.

§ 10.1-1193. Watershed planning; watershed permitting; promotion and coordination.

A. The Department, with the assistance of the Watershed Planning and Permitting Coordination Task Force, shall undertake such efforts it deems necessary and appropriate to coordinate the watershed-level activities conducted by state and local agencies and authorities and to foster the development of watershed planning by localities. To aid in the coordination and promotion of these activities, the Department shall to the extent practicable in its discretion:

1. Promote and coordinate state and local agencies' and authorities' efforts to undertake watershed planning and watershed permitting;

2. Acquire, maintain and make available informational resources on watershed planning;

3. Promote the continuation of research and dialogue on what is entailed in watershed planning and watershed permitting;

4. Identify sources and methods for providing local officials with technical assistance in watershed planning;

5. Encourage and foster training of local officials in watershed planning;

6. Develop recommendations for needed regulatory and legislative changes to assist local governments in developing and implementing watershed planning;

7. Identify barriers to watershed planning and watershed permitting, including state policies, regulations and procedures, and recommend alternatives to overcome such obstacles; and

8. Develop, foster and coordinate approaches to watershed permitting.

B. The Department shall report annually its watershed planning and permitting activities, findings and recommendations and those of the Task Force to the Governor and the General Assembly. This annual report may be incorporated as part of the report required by § 62.1-44.118.

C. Nothing in this article shall be construed as requiring additional permitting or planning requirements on agricultural or forestal activities.

1995, c. 793; 2007, c. 637.

§ 10.1-1194. Watershed Planning and Permitting Coordination Task Force created; membership; duties.

A. There is hereby created the Watershed Planning and Permitting Coordination Task Force, which shall be referred to in this article as the Task Force. The Task Force shall be composed of the Directors, or their designees, of the Department of Environmental Quality, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Department of Forestry, the Department of Energy, and the Commissioner, or his designee, of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

B. The Task Force shall meet at least quarterly on such dates and times as the members determine. A majority of the Task Force shall constitute a quorum.

C. The Task Force shall undertake such measures and activities it deems necessary and appropriate to see that the functions of the agencies represented therein, and to the extent practicable of other agencies of the Commonwealth, and the efforts of state and local agencies and authorities in watershed planning and watershed permitting are coordinated and promoted.

1995, c. 793; 2005, c. 41; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 532.

§ 10.1-1195. Watershed planning and permitting advisory panels.

The Task Force may name qualified persons to advisory panels to assist it in carrying out its responsibilities. Panels shall include members representing different areas of interest and expertise in watershed planning and watershed permitting including representatives of local governments, planning district commissions, industry, development interests, education, environmental and public interest groups and the scientific community found in baccalaureate institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth.

1995, c. 793.

§ 10.1-1196. Guiding definition and principles.

A. The Department, the Task Force and any advisory panels appointed by the Task Force shall be guided by the following definition of watershed planning: "Watershed planning" is the process of studying the environmental and land use features of a watershed to identify those areas that should be protected and preserved, measures to be utilized to protect such areas, and the character of development in order to avoid and minimize disruption of natural systems. Its focus is not on directing development to particular parcels of land but rather to identify critical resources, and measures to protect those resources, so that development, when it does occur, will not negatively impact water resources. In so doing watershed planning uses and protects ecological processes to lessen the need for structural control methods that require capital costs and maintenance. By including consideration of a watershed and its characteristics, cumulative impacts and interjurisdictional issues are more effectively managed than when solely relying on single-site-permit approaches. Watershed planning can be an important tool for maintaining environmental integrity, economic development and watershed permitting.

B. The Department, the Task Force and any advisory panels appointed by the Task Force shall be guided by the principles contained in the following statement: Stream systems tend to reflect the character of the watershed they drain. Unchecked physical conversion in a watershed accompanying urbanization leads to degraded streams and wetlands. As urbanization continues to spread across the state, natural vegetation, slope and water retention characteristics are replaced by impervious surfaces disrupting the dynamic balance of the natural hydrologic cycle. Poorly planned development can increase peak storm flows and runoff volume, lower water quality and aesthetics, and cause flooding and degradation of downstream communities and ecosystems.

1995, c. 793.

§ 10.1-1197. Cooperation of state agencies.

All agencies of the Commonwealth shall cooperate with the Department and the Task Force and, upon request, assist the Department and the Task Force in the performance of their efforts in coordinating and promoting watershed planning and watershed permitting.

1995, c. 793.