Richmond Times Dispatch Tag

Chesapeake Bay Cleanup to be About Collaboration and Accountability

The cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay is a huge multi-state effort that will span decades, making it perhaps the largest environmental restoration project in US history. Senator Mark Warner and Representative Robert Wittman have introduced the Chesapeake Bay Accountability and Recovery Act of 2013 (HR 739) to make the process more accountable at the federal level. Some of you may remember similar measures proposed in 2009 and 2011. If passed, this will require the EPA to develop a management plan for the Chesapeake Bay Program and restoration activities related to the bay. EPA would be required to update the management plan every two years. The legislation would require new financial reports on the Chesapeake Bay Program from the Office of Management and Budget and would require EPA to appoint an independent evaluator, who would review and report to the Congress on the plan. Read more about the proposed legislation that hopes...

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One Year Later, Henrico County Virginia to Settle with EPA for Clean Water Act Violation

One year after receiving an administrative complaint from the Environmental Protection Agency, Henrico County Supervisors have settled upon an agreement that will reduce the original $164,300 penalty levied by EPA for stormwater violations. In the spring of 2010, EPA conducted an audit of Henrico's records. Based on this audit, EPA issued an administrative complaint in April 2011 seeking civil penalties amounting to $164,300 for alleged non-compliance with permit conditions. Henrico's  penalty is not far from the $177,500 maximum administrative penalty that the EPA can levy without going to federal court. Benjamin A. Thorp, an assistant county attorney for Henrico, said the penalties levied in Virginia are "part of a big push by the EPA to address stormwater runoff." Henrico is not the first Virginia locality to have been sanctioned by EPA enforcement for stormwater violations. Another Richmond area municipality, Chesterfield County was issued a $131,000 penalty for stormwater pollution. (Chesterfield and the EPA negotiated a...

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Virginia Maintains that EPA’s Computer Model Still Has Flaws

The Commonwealth of Virginia is only one of many that contend that the computer model, or simulation, that the federal Environmental Protection Agency uses to guide the six-state bay cleanup has problems which make it difficult to accurately calculate exactly what individual localities need to do in order to meet the overall goal. Recently, the Richmond Times-Dispatch published a story which details some of the confusion citing the example of Charles City County who went from meeting 52% of sediment control requirements this summer to having a surplus capacity allowing an increase in sediment load of 406% in its latest update. The article illustrates the uncertainties involved with the allocations established in the Bay TMDL, and the constraints due to the limited data.  Although measures are needed to improve water quality in the Bay, finding a fair way to allocate pollutant loads, among states, local governments, non-point source and point source dischargers is a...

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A Perspective on Stormwater Utilities

In a recent opinion letter to the Richmond Times Dispatch, former Secretary of Natural Resources, L. Preston Bryant Jr. highlighted the critical role that localities play in the efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. Controlling runoff from agricultural land, improving sewage treatment plant discharge, and urban stormwater runoff are the three primary contributors to the bay pollution. Mr. Bryant indicates that implementing a stormwater utility has been and will continue to be a method for localities to deal with this concern. Having worked with the City of Staunton, Virginia on the implementation of their stormwater utility, I can attest to one of the big challenges that Mr. Bryant brings up in his article, namely, that they are not popular with the public. As seen through stories, of both successes and failures, from municipalities in Virginia and throughout the country, public education is the primary key in implementing and maintaining a...

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