Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 62.1. Waters of the State, Ports and Harbors
Chapter 3.1. State Water Control Law
11/27/2020

Article 2.6. Additional Upland Conditions for Water Quality Certification.

§ 62.1-44.15:80. Findings and purpose.

The General Assembly determines and finds that to comply with § 401 of the federal Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. § 1341), any applicant for a federal license or permit to conduct any activity that may result in any discharge into navigable waters shall provide the federal licensing or permitting authority with a certification from the state in which the discharge originates or will originate certifying that any such discharge will comply with applicable provisions of the Clean Water Act. The General Assembly determines and finds that the Virginia Water Protection Permit program has proven to be sufficient to evaluate and, when necessary, mitigate potential water quality impacts for most federally permitted projects. Virginia Water Protection Permit coverage addresses the impacts caused to wetlands and streams by excavating in a wetland, draining or significantly altering wetland acreage or function, filling or dumping in a stream or wetland, or permanently flooding or impounding a wetland area or stream. However, the conditions and requirements of a Virginia Water Protection Permit do not cover activities in upland areas, outside of wetlands and streams, that may result in a discharge to state waters. The General Assembly determines and finds that for construction of natural gas transmission pipelines greater than 36 inches inside diameter that are subject to a certificate of public convenience and necessity under § 7c of the federal Natural Gas Act (15 U.S.C. § 717f(c)), there may be activities in upland areas that may have the potential to affect water quality but that do not fall within the scope of the Virginia Water Protection Permit program. Information related to such impacts would not be contained in the Joint Permit Application utilized to determine permit conditions for a Virginia Water Protection Permit. The General Assembly determines and finds that issuance of a Virginia Water Protection Permit and a certification issued pursuant to this article shall together constitute the certification required under § 401 of the Clean Water Act for natural gas transmission pipelines greater than 36 inches inside diameter subject to § 7c of the Natural Gas Act.

2018, c. 636.

§ 62.1-44.15:81. Application and preparation of draft certification conditions.

A. Any applicant for a federal license or permit for a natural gas transmission pipeline greater than 36 inches inside diameter subject to § 7c of the federal Natural Gas Act (15 U.S.C. § 717f(c)) shall submit a separate application, at the same time the Joint Permit Application is submitted, to the Department containing a description of all activities that will occur in upland areas, including activities in or related to (i) slopes with a grade greater than 15 percent; (ii) karst geology features, including sinkholes and underground springs; (iii) proximity to sensitive streams and wetlands identified by the Department of Conservation and Recreation or the Department of Wildlife Resources; (iv) seasonally high water tables; (v) water impoundment structures and reservoirs; and (vi) areas with highly erodible soils, low pH, and acid sulfate soils.

B. At any time during the review of the application, but prior to issuing a certification pursuant to this article, the Department may issue an information request to the applicant for any relevant additional information necessary to determine (i) if any activities related to the applicant's project in upland areas are likely to result in a discharge to state waters and (ii) how the applicant proposes to minimize water quality impacts to the maximum extent practicable to protect water quality. The information request shall provide a reasonable amount of time for the applicant to respond.

C. The Department shall review the information contained in the application and any additional information obtained through any information requests issued pursuant to subsection B to determine if any activities described in the application or in any additional information requests (i) are likely to result in a discharge to state waters with the potential to adversely impact water quality and (ii) will not be addressed by the Virginia Water Protection Permit issued for the activity pursuant to Article 2.2 (§ 62.1-44.15:20 et seq.). The Department of Wildlife Resources, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Department of Health, and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services shall consult with the Department during the review of the application and any additional information obtained through any information requests issued pursuant to subsection B. Following the conclusion of its review, the Department shall develop a draft certification for public comment and potential issuance by the Department or the Board pursuant to § 62.1-44.15:02 that contains any additional conditions for activities in upland areas necessary to protect water quality. The Department shall make the information contained in the application and any additional information obtained through any information requests issued pursuant to subsection B available to the public.

D. Notwithstanding any applicable annual standards and specifications for erosion and sediment control or stormwater management pursuant to Article 2.3 (§ 62.1-44.15:24 et seq.) or 2.4 (§ 62.1-44.15:51 et seq.), the applicant shall not commence land-disturbing activity prior to approval by the Department of an erosion and sediment control plan and stormwater management plan in accordance with applicable regulations. The Department shall act on any plan submittal within 60 days after initial submittal of a completed plan to the Department. The Department may issue either approval or disapproval and shall provide written rationale for any disapproval. The Department shall act on any plan that has been previously disapproved within 30 days after the plan has been revised and resubmitted for approval.

E. No action by either the Department or the Board on a certification pursuant to this article shall alter the siting determination made through Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or State Corporation Commission approval.

F. The Department shall assess an administrative charge to the applicant to cover the direct costs of services rendered associated with its responsibilities pursuant to this section.

2018, c. 636; 2020, c. 958.

§ 62.1-44.15:82. Public notice of draft certification conditions.

A. The Department shall prepare a public notice of draft certification conditions developed pursuant to § 62.1-44.15:81 that the applicant shall cause to be published once in one or more newspapers of general circulation selected by the Department in the areas in which the proposed activity is to take place.

B. The public notice shall include:

1. The name, address, telephone number, and government email address of the Department office at which persons may obtain information pertinent to the application;

2. A brief description of the activity that may result in a discharge to state waters or how to obtain detailed information on the activity;

3. The location of such activity and the state waters that may be affected. The location shall include a listing of all counties and cities in which the activity will occur and include either maps of the project area or directions on how to access such maps. Where possible, location information shall reference route numbers, road intersections, map coordinates, or similar information or how to obtain detailed information on the activity;

4. A summary of the draft certification conditions;

5. A brief description of the procedures for formulation of a final determination of any conditions, including the appropriate comment period required by subsection C and the means by which interested persons may comment on the application; and

6. Instructions for requesting a public hearing if a public hearing is not already scheduled.

C. If no public hearing has already been scheduled, a period of 30 days following the date of the publication of public notice shall be provided during which interested persons may submit written comments and requests for a hearing. If a public hearing has already been scheduled, public notice shall be provided at least 30 days before the public hearing date.

2018, c. 636.

§ 62.1-44.15:83. Requests for public hearing, hearings, and final decisions procedures.

A. The issuance of a certification pursuant to this article shall be a permit action for purposes of § 62.1-44.15:02.

B. The Department shall assess an administrative charge to the applicant to cover the direct costs of services rendered associated with its responsibilities pursuant to this section.

2018, c. 636.

§ 62.1-44.15:84. Requests for modification or revocation; public notice.

A. The applicant or the Department may request that conditions in the certification be modified or revoked. Requests for modification or revocation of any certification conditions shall contain the following information:

1. If the request is made by the applicant, the name, mailing address, and telephone number of the requester and the name, mailing address, and telephone number of any person representing the requestor;

2. Where applicable, a statement specifically setting forth the requested modification and the reason for such modification; and

3. Where applicable, a statement specifically setting forth the reason for the requested revocation.

B. The Director shall review all requests for modification or revocation and make a tentative determination within 60 days of receipt of the completed request whether to grant or deny the requested modification or revocation.

C. Any draft modification or revocation shall be public noticed, and final decisions shall be made in the same manner as the original certification.

2018, c. 636.