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Code of Virginia
Title 62.1. Waters of the State, Ports and Harbors
Chapter 3.1. State Water Control Law
12/1/2020

Article 1. General Provisions.

§ 62.1-44.2. Short title; purpose.

The short title of this chapter is the State Water Control Law. It is the policy of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the purpose of this law to: (1) protect existing high quality state waters and restore all other state waters to such condition of quality that any such waters will permit all reasonable public uses and will support the propagation and growth of all aquatic life, including game fish, which might reasonably be expected to inhabit them; (2) safeguard the clean waters of the Commonwealth from pollution; (3) prevent any increase in pollution; (4) reduce existing pollution; (5) promote and encourage the reclamation and reuse of wastewater in a manner protective of the environment and public health; and (6) promote water resource conservation, management and distribution, and encourage water consumption reduction in order to provide for the health, safety, and welfare of the present and future citizens of the Commonwealth.

Code 1950, § 62.1-14; 1968, c. 659; 1970, c. 638; 1978, c. 827; 2000, c. 972.

§ 62.1-44.3. (For expiration date, see Acts 2016, cc. 68 and 758, as amended by Acts 2017, c. 345) Definitions.

Unless a different meaning is required by the context, the following terms as used in this chapter shall have the meanings hereinafter respectively ascribed to them:

"Beneficial use" means both instream and offstream uses. Instream beneficial uses include, but are not limited to, the protection of fish and wildlife resources and habitat, maintenance of waste assimilation, recreation, navigation, and cultural and aesthetic values. The preservation of instream flows for purposes of the protection of navigation, maintenance of waste assimilation capacity, the protection of fish and wildlife resources and habitat, recreation, cultural and aesthetic values is an instream beneficial use of Virginia's waters. Offstream beneficial uses include, but are not limited to, domestic (including public water supply), agricultural uses, electric power generation, commercial, and industrial uses.

"Board" means the State Water Control Board.

"Certificate" means any certificate issued by the Board.

"Department" means the Department of Environmental Quality.

"Director" means the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality.

"Establishment" means any industrial establishment, mill, factory, tannery, paper or pulp mill, mine, coal mine, colliery, breaker or coal-processing operations, quarry, oil refinery, boat, vessel, and every other industry or plant or works the operation of which produces industrial wastes or other wastes or which may otherwise alter the physical, chemical or biological properties of any state waters.

"Excavate" or "excavation" means ditching, dredging, or mechanized removal of earth, soil or rock.

"Industrial wastes" means liquid or other wastes resulting from any process of industry, manufacture, trade, or business or from the development of any natural resources.

"The law" or "this law" means the law contained in this chapter as now existing or hereafter amended.

"Member" means a member of the Board.

"Normal agricultural activities" means those activities defined as an agricultural operation in § 3.2-300 and any activity that is conducted as part of or in furtherance of such agricultural operation but shall not include any activity for which a permit would have been required as of January 1, 1997, under 33 U.S.C. § 1344 or any regulations promulgated pursuant thereto.

"Normal silvicultural activities" means any silvicultural activity as defined in § 10.1-1181.1 and any activity that is conducted as part of or in furtherance of such silvicultural activity but shall not include any activity for which a permit would have been required as of January 1, 1997, under 33 U.S.C. § 1344 or any regulations promulgated pursuant thereto.

"Other wastes" means decayed wood, sawdust, shavings, bark, lime, garbage, refuse, ashes, offal, tar, oil, chemicals, and all other substances except industrial wastes and sewage which may cause pollution in any state waters.

"Owner" means the Commonwealth or any of its political subdivisions, including but not limited to sanitation district commissions and authorities and any public or private institution, corporation, association, firm, or company organized or existing under the laws of this or any other state or country, or any officer or agency of the United States, or any person or group of persons acting individually or as a group that owns, operates, charters, rents, or otherwise exercises control over or is responsible for any actual or potential discharge of sewage, industrial wastes, or other wastes to state waters, or any facility or operation that has the capability to alter the physical, chemical, or biological properties of state waters in contravention of § 62.1-44.5.

"Person" means an individual, corporation, partnership, association, governmental body, municipal corporation, or any other legal entity.

"Policies" means policies established under subdivisions (3a) and (3b) of § 62.1-44.15.

"Pollution" means such alteration of the physical, chemical, or biological properties of any state waters as will or is likely to create a nuisance or render such waters (a) harmful or detrimental or injurious to the public health, safety, or welfare or to the health of animals, fish, or aquatic life; (b) unsuitable with reasonable treatment for use as present or possible future sources of public water supply; or (c) unsuitable for recreational, commercial, industrial, agricultural, or other reasonable uses, provided that (i) an alteration of the physical, chemical, or biological property of state waters or a discharge or deposit of sewage, industrial wastes or other wastes to state waters by any owner which by itself is not sufficient to cause pollution but which, in combination with such alteration of or discharge or deposit to state waters by other owners, is sufficient to cause pollution; (ii) the discharge of untreated sewage by any owner into state waters; and (iii) contributing to the contravention of standards of water quality duly established by the Board, are "pollution" for the terms and purposes of this chapter.

"Pretreatment requirements" means any requirements arising under the Board's pretreatment regulations including the duty to allow or carry out inspections, entry, or monitoring activities; any rules, regulations, or orders issued by the owner of a publicly owned treatment works; or any reporting requirements imposed by the owner of a publicly owned treatment works or by the regulations of the Board.

"Pretreatment standards" means any standards of performance or other requirements imposed by regulation of the Board upon an industrial user of a publicly owned treatment works.

"Reclaimed water" means water resulting from the treatment of domestic, municipal, or industrial wastewater that is suitable for a direct beneficial or controlled use that would not otherwise occur. Specifically excluded from this definition is "gray water."

"Reclamation" means the treatment of domestic, municipal, or industrial wastewater or sewage to produce reclaimed water for a direct beneficial or controlled use that would not otherwise occur.

"Regulation" means a regulation issued under § 62.1-44.15 (10).

"Reuse" means the use of reclaimed water for a direct beneficial use or a controlled use that is in accordance with the requirements of the Board.

"Rule" means a rule adopted by the Board to regulate the procedure of the Board pursuant to § 62.1-44.15 (7).

"Ruling" means a ruling issued under § 62.1-44.15 (9).

"Sewage" means the water-carried human wastes from residences, buildings, industrial establishments or other places together with such industrial wastes and underground, surface, storm, or other water as may be present.

"Sewage treatment works" or "treatment works" means any device or system used in the storage, treatment, disposal, or reclamation of sewage or combinations of sewage and industrial wastes, including but not limited to pumping, power, and other equipment, and appurtenances, and any works, including land, that are or will be (i) an integral part of the treatment process or (ii) used for the ultimate disposal of residues or effluent resulting from such treatment. These terms shall not include onsite sewage systems or alternative discharging sewage systems.

"Sewerage system" means pipelines or conduits, pumping stations, and force mains, and all other construction, devices, and appliances appurtenant thereto, used for conducting sewage or industrial wastes or other wastes to a point of ultimate disposal.

"Special order" means a special order issued under subdivisions (8a), (8b), and (8c) of § 62.1-44.15.

"Standards" means standards established under subdivisions (3a) and (3b) of § 62.1-44.15.

"State waters" means all water, on the surface and under the ground, wholly or partially within or bordering the Commonwealth or within its jurisdiction, including wetlands.

"Wetlands" means those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs and similar areas.

Code 1950, § 62.1-15; 1968, c. 659; 1970, c. 638; 1988, c. 167; 1990, c. 717; 1991, c. 702; 2000, cc. 972, 1032, 1054; 2003, c. 614; 2007, c. 659; 2015, cc. 104, 677.

§ 62.1-44.3. (For effective date, see Acts 2016, cc. 68 and 758, as amended by Acts 2017, c. 345) Definitions.

Unless a different meaning is required by the context, the following terms as used in this chapter shall have the meanings hereinafter respectively ascribed to them:

"Beneficial use" means both instream and offstream uses. Instream beneficial uses include, but are not limited to, the protection of fish and wildlife resources and habitat, maintenance of waste assimilation, recreation, navigation, and cultural and aesthetic values. The preservation of instream flows for purposes of the protection of navigation, maintenance of waste assimilation capacity, the protection of fish and wildlife resources and habitat, recreation, cultural and aesthetic values is an instream beneficial use of Virginia's waters. Offstream beneficial uses include, but are not limited to, domestic (including public water supply), agricultural uses, electric power generation, commercial, and industrial uses.

"Board" means the State Water Control Board.

"Certificate" means any certificate or permit issued by the Board.

"Department" means the Department of Environmental Quality.

"Director" means the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality.

"Establishment" means any industrial establishment, mill, factory, tannery, paper or pulp mill, mine, coal mine, colliery, breaker or coal-processing operations, quarry, oil refinery, boat, vessel, and every other industry or plant or works the operation of which produces industrial wastes or other wastes or which may otherwise alter the physical, chemical or biological properties of any state waters.

"Excavate" or "excavation" means ditching, dredging, or mechanized removal of earth, soil or rock.

"Industrial wastes" means liquid or other wastes resulting from any process of industry, manufacture, trade, or business or from the development of any natural resources.

"Land-disturbance approval" means an approval allowing a land-disturbing activity to commence issued by (i) a Virginia Erosion and Stormwater Management Program authority after the requirements of § 62.1-44.15:34 have been met or (ii) a Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control Program authority after the requirements of § 62.1-44.15:55 have been met.

"The law" or "this law" means the law contained in this chapter as now existing or hereafter amended.

"Member" means a member of the Board.

"Municipal separate storm sewer" means a conveyance or system of conveyances otherwise known as a municipal separate storm sewer system or "MS4," including roads with drainage systems, municipal streets, catch basins, curbs, gutters, ditches, man-made channels, or storm drains, that is:

1. Owned or operated by a federal entity, state, city, town, county, district, association, or other public body, created by or pursuant to state law, having jurisdiction over disposal of sewage, industrial wastes, stormwater, or other wastes, including a special district under state law such as a sewer district, flood control district, drainage district or similar entity, or a designated and approved management agency under § 208 of the federal Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. § 1251 et seq.) that discharges to surface waters;

2. Designed or used for collecting or conveying stormwater;

3. Not a combined sewer; and

4. Not part of a publicly owned treatment works.

"Normal agricultural activities" means those activities defined as an agricultural operation in § 3.2-300 and any activity that is conducted as part of or in furtherance of such agricultural operation but shall not include any activity for which a permit would have been required as of January 1, 1997, under 33 U.S.C. § 1344 or any regulations promulgated pursuant thereto.

"Normal silvicultural activities" means any silvicultural activity as defined in § 10.1-1181.1 and any activity that is conducted as part of or in furtherance of such silvicultural activity but shall not include any activity for which a permit would have been required as of January 1, 1997, under 33 U.S.C. § 1344 or any regulations promulgated pursuant thereto.

"Other wastes" means decayed wood, sawdust, shavings, bark, lime, garbage, refuse, ashes, offal, tar, oil, chemicals, and all other substances except industrial wastes and sewage which may cause pollution in any state waters.

"Owner" means the Commonwealth or any of its political subdivisions, including but not limited to sanitation district commissions and authorities and any public or private institution, corporation, association, firm, or company organized or existing under the laws of this or any other state or country, or any officer or agency of the United States, or any person or group of persons acting individually or as a group that owns, operates, charters, rents, or otherwise exercises control over or is responsible for any actual or potential discharge of sewage, industrial wastes, or other wastes to state waters, or any facility or operation that has the capability to alter the physical, chemical, or biological properties of state waters in contravention of § 62.1-44.5.

"Person" means an individual, corporation, partnership, association, governmental body, municipal corporation, or any other legal entity.

"Policies" means policies established under subdivisions (3a) and (3b) of § 62.1-44.15.

"Pollution" means such alteration of the physical, chemical, or biological properties of any state waters as will or is likely to create a nuisance or render such waters (a) harmful or detrimental or injurious to the public health, safety, or welfare or to the health of animals, fish, or aquatic life; (b) unsuitable with reasonable treatment for use as present or possible future sources of public water supply; or (c) unsuitable for recreational, commercial, industrial, agricultural, or other reasonable uses, provided that (i) an alteration of the physical, chemical, or biological property of state waters or a discharge or deposit of sewage, industrial wastes or other wastes to state waters by any owner which by itself is not sufficient to cause pollution but which, in combination with such alteration of or discharge or deposit to state waters by other owners, is sufficient to cause pollution; (ii) the discharge of untreated sewage by any owner into state waters; and (iii) contributing to the contravention of standards of water quality duly established by the Board, are "pollution" for the terms and purposes of this chapter.

"Pretreatment requirements" means any requirements arising under the Board's pretreatment regulations including the duty to allow or carry out inspections, entry, or monitoring activities; any rules, regulations, or orders issued by the owner of a publicly owned treatment works; or any reporting requirements imposed by the owner of a publicly owned treatment works or by the regulations of the Board.

"Pretreatment standards" means any standards of performance or other requirements imposed by regulation of the Board upon an industrial user of a publicly owned treatment works.

"Reclaimed water" means water resulting from the treatment of domestic, municipal, or industrial wastewater that is suitable for a direct beneficial or controlled use that would not otherwise occur. Specifically excluded from this definition is "gray water."

"Reclamation" means the treatment of domestic, municipal, or industrial wastewater or sewage to produce reclaimed water for a direct beneficial or controlled use that would not otherwise occur.

"Regulation" means a regulation issued under subdivision (10) of § 62.1-44.15.

"Reuse" means the use of reclaimed water for a direct beneficial use or a controlled use that is in accordance with the requirements of the Board.

"Rule" means a rule adopted by the Board to regulate the procedure of the Board pursuant to subdivision (7) of § 62.1-44.15.

"Ruling" means a ruling issued under subdivision (9) of § 62.1-44.15.

"Sewage" means the water-carried human wastes from residences, buildings, industrial establishments or other places together with such industrial wastes and underground, surface, storm, or other water as may be present.

"Sewage treatment works" or "treatment works" means any device or system used in the storage, treatment, disposal, or reclamation of sewage or combinations of sewage and industrial wastes, including but not limited to pumping, power, and other equipment, and appurtenances, and any works, including land, that are or will be (i) an integral part of the treatment process or (ii) used for the ultimate disposal of residues or effluent resulting from such treatment. These terms shall not include onsite sewage systems or alternative discharging sewage systems.

"Sewerage system" means pipelines or conduits, pumping stations, and force mains, and all other construction, devices, and appliances appurtenant thereto, used for conducting sewage or industrial wastes or other wastes to a point of ultimate disposal.

"Special order" means a special order issued under subdivisions (8a), (8b), and (8c) of § 62.1-44.15.

"Standards" means standards established under subdivisions (3a) and (3b) of § 62.1-44.15.

"State waters" means all water, on the surface and under the ground, wholly or partially within or bordering the Commonwealth or within its jurisdiction, including wetlands.

"Wetlands" means those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs and similar areas.

Code 1950, § 62.1-15; 1968, c. 659; 1970, c. 638; 1988, c. 167; 1990, c. 717; 1991, c. 702; 2000, cc. 972, 1032, 1054; 2003, c. 614; 2007, c. 659; 2015, cc. 104, 677; 2016, cc. 68, 758.

§ 62.1-44.3:1. Certified mail; subsequent mail or notices may be sent by regular mail.

Whenever in this chapter the Board or the Department is required to send any mail or notice by certified mail and such mail or notice is sent certified mail, return receipt requested, then any subsequent, identical mail or notice that is sent by the Board or the Department may be sent by regular mail.

2011, c. 566.

§ 62.1-44.4. Control by Commonwealth as to water quality.

(1) No right to continue existing quality degradation in any state water shall exist nor shall such right be or be deemed to have been acquired by virtue of past or future discharge of sewage, industrial wastes or other wastes or other action by any owner. The right and control of the Commonwealth in and over all state waters is hereby expressly reserved and reaffirmed.

(2) Waters whose existing quality is better than the established standards as of the date on which such standards become effective will be maintained at high quality; provided that the Board has the power to authorize any project or development, which would constitute a new or an increased discharge of effluent to high quality water, when it has been affirmatively demonstrated that a change is justifiable to provide necessary economic or social development; and provided, further, that the necessary degree of waste treatment to maintain high water quality will be required where physically and economically feasible. Present and anticipated use of such waters will be preserved and protected.

Code 1950, § 62.1-16; 1968, c. 659; 1970, c. 638.

§ 62.1-44.5. (For expiration date, see Acts 2016, cc. 68 and 758, as amended by Acts 2017, c. 345) Prohibition of waste discharges or other quality alterations of state waters except as authorized by permit; notification required.

A. Except in compliance with a certificate or permit issued by the Board or other entity authorized by the Board to issue a certificate or permit pursuant to this chapter, it shall be unlawful for any person to:

1. Discharge into state waters sewage, industrial wastes, other wastes, or any noxious or deleterious substances;

2. Excavate in a wetland;

3. Otherwise alter the physical, chemical or biological properties of state waters and make them detrimental to the public health, or to animal or aquatic life, or to the uses of such waters for domestic or industrial consumption, or for recreation, or for other uses; or

4. On and after October 1, 2001, conduct the following activities in a wetland:

a. New activities to cause draining that significantly alters or degrades existing wetland acreage or functions;

b. Filling or dumping;

c. Permanent flooding or impounding; or

d. New activities that cause significant alteration or degradation of existing wetland acreage or functions.

5. Discharge stormwater into state waters from Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems or land disturbing activities.

B. Any person in violation of the provisions of subsection A who discharges or causes or allows (i) a discharge of sewage, industrial waste, other wastes or any noxious or deleterious substance into or upon state waters or (ii) a discharge that may reasonably be expected to enter state waters shall, upon learning of the discharge, promptly notify, but in no case later than 24 hours the Board, the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality, or the coordinator of emergency services appointed pursuant to § 44-146.19 for the political subdivision reasonably expected to be affected by the discharge. Written notice to the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality shall follow initial notice within the time frame specified by the federal Clean Water Act.

Code 1950, § 62.1-17; 1968, c. 659; 1970, c. 638; 1990, c. 717; 1996, c. 119; 2000, cc. 1032, 1054; 2001, cc. 354, 383; 2004, c. 372; 2013, cc. 756, 793.

§ 62.1-44.5. (For effective date, see Acts 2016, cc. 68 and 758, as amended by Acts 2017, c. 345) Prohibition of waste discharges or other quality alterations of state waters except as authorized by permit; notification required.

A. Except in compliance with a certificate, land-disturbance approval, or permit issued by the Board or other entity authorized by the Board to issue a certificate, land-disturbance approval, or permit pursuant to this chapter, it shall be unlawful for any person to:

1. Discharge into state waters sewage, industrial wastes, other wastes, or any noxious or deleterious substances;

2. Excavate in a wetland;

3. Otherwise alter the physical, chemical, or biological properties of state waters and make them detrimental to the public health, or to animal or aquatic life, or to the uses of such waters for domestic or industrial consumption, or for recreation, or for other uses;

4. On and after October 1, 2001, conduct the following activities in a wetland:

a. New activities to cause draining that significantly alters or degrades existing wetland acreage or functions;

b. Filling or dumping;

c. Permanent flooding or impounding; or

d. New activities that cause significant alteration or degradation of existing wetland acreage or functions; or

5. Discharge stormwater into state waters from Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems or land disturbing activities.

B. Any person in violation of the provisions of subsection A who discharges or causes or allows (i) a discharge of sewage, industrial waste, other wastes, or any noxious or deleterious substance into or upon state waters or (ii) a discharge that may reasonably be expected to enter state waters shall, upon learning of the discharge, promptly notify, but in no case later than 24 hours the Board, the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality, or the coordinator of emergency services appointed pursuant to § 44-146.19 for the political subdivision reasonably expected to be affected by the discharge. Written notice to the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality shall follow initial notice within the time frame specified by the federal Clean Water Act.

Code 1950, § 62.1-17; 1968, c. 659; 1970, c. 638; 1990, c. 717; 1996, c. 119; 2000, cc. 1032, 1054; 2001, cc. 354, 383; 2004, c. 372; 2013, cc. 756, 793; 2016, cc. 68, 758.

§ 62.1-44.6. Chapter supplementary to existing laws.

This chapter is intended to supplement existing laws and no part thereof shall be construed to repeal any existing laws specifically enacted for the protection of health or the protection of fish, shellfish and game of the Commonwealth, except that the administration of any such laws pertaining to the pollution of state waters, as herein defined, shall be in accord with the purpose of this chapter and general policies adopted by the Board.

Code 1950, § 62.1-18; 1968, c. 659; 1970, c. 638.