The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) began evaluating amendments to the Eastern Virginia Ground Water (GW) Management Area Regulation and the Ground Water Withdrawal Regulation in September 2009.
This process began when new information about declining ground water levels in parts of the Coastal Plain of Virginia became known. Ground water levels in parts of eastern Virginia have declined to the point they are nearing aquifer tops.
Withdrawing ground water to the point that it falls below the top of the aquifer can impair the aquifer’s ability to store water in the future, potentially impact existing water usage and future growth, and create ground subsidence.
The DEQ created a Regulatory Advisory Panel (RAP) consisting of 20 persons from the public and private sectors, which met with DEQ Water Resources Management staff seven times between September 18, 2009 and April 1, 2010. Ground water supply issues important to managing the Virginia Coastal Plain aquifer system were presented and discussed.
The next steps in the amendment process include:
• Continued work by DEQ to revise the regulations. The agency hopes to present both the proposed expansion of the Eastern Virginia GW Management Area (Chapter 600) and the proposed Ground Water Withdrawal Regulations (Chapter 610) to the State Water Control Board (SWCB) at the June 2010 Board meeting.
• Once proposed regulations are adopted by the SWCB, the regulations will undergo an executive review.
• Once the executive review is complete, a comment period will be announced. During the comment period members of the GW RAP and the general public can submit comments on the regulations.
• DEQ will make changes to the regulations based on the comments received, and then present final regulations to the SWCB for approval. A target date of spring 2011 has been mentioned.
A map of the Eastern Virginia Ground Water Management Area proposed expansion can be viewed at www.daa.com/portfolio/enviro.htm.