DEQ Releases New Stormwater Management Handbook, Version 1.0

For more information, contact: Andrew Clark, HBAV Vice President of Government Affairs, aclark@hbav.com

Key Takeaways:

  • The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s recently released the Virginia Stormwater Management Handbook, Version 1.0. It provides guidance necessary to implement the water quality and water quality criteria of the Virginia Erosion and Stormwater Management Regulations (the “VESM Regulations”). The Handbook and VESM Regulations are set to take effect July 1, 2024.
  • The new Handbook updates, consolidates, and replaces nine (9) existing manuals, guidance documents, and memorandums issued by the DEQ, many of which are outdated, conflicting, and have caused delays in the permit review process. Those nine documents will be rescinded July 1, 2025.
  • The DEQ is providing a one-year “transition period”: Any erosion and sediment control plan and stormwater management plan submitted between July 1, 2024 and June 30, 2025 can use either (i) the existing handbooks, manuals, and guidance, or (ii) the new Handbook.
  • The full text of the new Virginia Stormwater Management Handbook, Version 1.0 can be accessed here. The Department of Environmental Quality’s memorandum on the new Handbook can be accessed here.

Overview

The Department of Environmental Quality’s new Virginia Stormwater Management Handbook, Version 1.0 marks a major step in consolidating and modernizing its guidance documents for all new development, redevelopment, and upgrades (retrofits) to existing development.

The Handbook was designed to streamline the permit review process, minimize discrepancies between applicants and regulators, and create a “living document” that is responsive to stakeholder input, technological advances, and evolving needs in the field.

The HBA of Virginia and its members actively participated in the extensive Stakeholder Advisory Group organized by the Department to assist with the development of the new Handbook.

What You Need to Know About the New Handbook:

The Handbook provides guidance for residential builders and developers on the erosion and stormwater control measures necessary to comply with the new Virginia Erosion and Stormwater Management Regulations (“VESM Regulations”), which take effect July 1, 2024. For additional information on the VESM Regulations adopted last year, click here. 

Here is an overview of the notable changes, improvements, and features of the new Handbook.

Consolidation of Existing Guidance Documents and Memos

The Handbook consolidates decades of fragmented guidance documents into one comprehensive document, eliminating the need for applicants and regulators to refer to various conflicting and outdated guidance documents. The Handbook will replace the two existing manuals:

  • Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook, Third Edition (1992)
  • Virginia Stormwater Management Handbook, First Edition (1999)

The Handbook will also replace seven (7) existing guidance documents and memorandums issued by the Department, as any relevant information from those documents has been incorporated into the new Handbook:

  • Guidance Document on VSMP Site Inspection Strategies
  • Guidance Document on Utilization of Nonpoint Nutrient Offsets
  • Guidance Memo No. 14-2002 Implementation Guidance for the 2009 General Permit for Discharges of Stormwater from Construction Activities, 9VAC25-880
  • Guidance Memo No. 14-2014 Implementation Guidance for Section 47 (time limits on applicability of approved design criteria) and Section 48 (grandfathering)
  • Guidance Memo No. 15-2003 Post development SW Mgmt Implementation Guidance for Linear Utility Projects
  • Guidance Memo No. 22-2011 Streamlined Plan Review for Construction Stormwater Plans and Erosion and Sediment Control Plans submitted by a Licensed Design Professional and reviewed by a Dual Combined Administrator for Erosion and Sediment Control and Stormwater Management
  • Guidance Memo No. 22-2012 Stormwater Management and Erosion & Sediment Control Design Guide

Best Management Practices (BMPs):

  • The Handbook categorizes Best Management Practices (BMPs) into two primary groups based on the phase of the project they are applied: (i) Construction BMPs (formerly known as erosion and sediment controls) and (ii) Post-Construction BMPs. BMPs are further categorized based on the specific type or function of the practice.  (Read more)
  • Provides up-to-date specifications for Construction BMPs and Post-Construction BMPs and standardizes the presentation of those specifications for ease of use (Read more).
  • Increases the number of BMPs from 54 to 77, offering stakeholders more cost-effective alternatives than those in current guidance.

Handbook Organization:  A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide:

The Handbook consists of ten (10) chapters, each addressing important topics in the design of BMPs, as well as ten (10) appendices with information supporting the design of BMPs and other evolving topics.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 1, Introduction. Describes Virginia’s erosion and sediment control and stormwater management leadership, VDEQ’s objective and purpose of the Handbook, as well as suggestions on how to use it. This chapter also presents the Handbook development process and the plan to keep it updated.

Chapter 2: Why Erosion and Sediment Control and Stormwater Management Matter

Chapter 2, Why Erosion and Sediment Control and Stormwater Management Matter. Describes the importance of erosion and sediment controls and stormwater management. In addition, this section describes the role of climate in stormwater design.

Chapter 3: Laws and Regulations

Chapter 3, Laws and regulations. Provides an overview of the laws and regulations that impact erosion control and stormwater management design.

Chapter 4: Regulatory Compliance Process

Chapter 4, Regulatory Compliance Process. Provides a roadmap for regulatory compliance and outlines the process through which delegated authorities apply the Virginia Erosion and Stormwater Management Regulations to the multiple types of development and redevelopment projects.

Chapter 5: Erosion and Sediment Control and Stormwater Management Requirements

Chapter 5, Erosion and Sediment Control and Stormwater Management Requirements. Provides information on regulating land-disturbing activities and how to apply the technical criteria. It also presents the erosion and sediment control minimum standards and stormwater requirements.

Chapter 6: Stormwater Site Design and BMP Selection

Chapter 6, Stormwater Site Design and BMP Selection. Provides guidance for stormwater site design and BMP selection while integrating environmental conservation and ecological restoration principles and concepts.

Chapter 7: Design Specifications for Construction BMPs

Chapter 7. Design Specifications for Construction BMPs. Provides detailed planning, design, construction, and maintenance guidance and specifications for construction BMPs.

Chapter 8: Design Specifications for Post-Construction BMPs

Chapter 8, Design Specifications for Post-Construction BMPs. Provides detailed planning, design, construction, and maintenance guidance and specifications for post-construction BMPs.

Chapter 9: BMP Construction

Chapter 9, BMP Construction. Describes construction activities, sequence, concepts, and inspection process that will result in successful BMP installation.

Chapter 10: BMP Inspection and Maintenance

Chapter 10, BMP Inspection and Maintenance. Provides an overview of inspections and maintenance requirements including responsibilities for monitoring, reporting, and enforcement, as well as common tasks associated with maintaining BMPs. This section also provides information on maintenance plans and agreements.

New Process to Update the Handbook:

Recognizing that outdated guidance documents have delayed permit reviews in the past, the Department will create a Technical Review Committee to ensure the Handbook is maintained as a “living document” and revised in a timely manner.

The Technical Review Committee will assess technical issues and feedback from the regulated community, develop recommendations to address any issues, and advise the Department on stormwater policy, stormwater infrastructure design and construction guidelines, and BMP standards and specifications.

The Committee will include representatives from industry organizations like the Home Builders Association of Virginia and the Virginia Association for Commercial Real Estate, organizations representing the engineering and architectural community, and other stakeholders.

For more information about the Handbook update process, click here.

Handbook Implementation: Effective Date & Transition Period

Effective Date and One-Year Transition:  The Handbook  will take effect July 1, 2024, coinciding with the effective date of the new Virginia Erosion and Stormwater Management (VESM) Regulations.

However, the Department will provide a one-year “transition period”: Any erosion and sediment control plan and stormwater management plan submitted between July 1, 2024 and June 30, 2025 will be allowed to use either (i) the existing handbooks, manuals, and guidance, or (ii) the new Virginia Stormwater Management Handbook, Version 1.0.

What Happens After the One-Year Transition Period?

Effective July 1, 2025, the two (2) existing manuals and seven (7) guidance documents referenced below will be rescinded after a public notice and 30-day public comment period.  Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook, Third Edition (1992)

  • Virginia Stormwater Management Handbook, First Edition (1999)
  • Guidance Document on VSMP Site Inspection Strategies
  • Guidance Document on Utilization of Nonpoint Nutrient Offsets
  • Guidance Memo No. 14-2002 Implementation Guidance for the 2009 General Permit for Discharges of Stormwater from Construction Activities, 9VAC25-880
  • Guidance Memo No. 14-2014 Implementation Guidance for Section 47 (time limits on applicability of approved design criteria) and Section 48 (grandfathering)
  • Guidance Memo No. 15-2003 Post development SW Mgmt Implementation Guidance for Linear Utility Projects
  • Guidance Memo No. 22-2011 Streamlined Plan Review for Construction Stormwater Plans and Erosion and Sediment Control Plans submitted by a Licensed Design Professional and reviewed by a Dual Combined Administrator for Erosion and Sediment Control and Stormwater Management
  • Guidance Memo No. 22-2012 Stormwater Management and Erosion & Sediment Control Design Guide

Accessing the Handbook and Other Related Documents and Materials

  • DEQ Clearinghouse: Resource provided by the Department of Environmental Quality with links the new Handbook and other related materials, including the Virginia Runoff Reduction Method (VRRM) 4.1 compliance spreadsheets, VRRM 4.1 User Guide, approval letters for Manufactured Treatment Devices, and other materials.
  • Economic Review, Cost-Benefit Analysis of the new Handbook: Memo published by the Office of Regulatory Management (ORM) evaluating the direct and indirect costs and benefits of adopting the new Handbook or maintaining the “status quo.”