Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Tell the General Assembly: Do Not Dilute Stormwater Regulations Designed to Protect Our Waterways!

We all rely on our waterways for drinking water, and sometimes it is hard to see the damage that stormwater inflicts on them. That’s why we all need to pitch in to make sure they’re healthy, or face the consequences of degrading our river, creeks, streets and homes.

Across our watershed and throughout Virginia, stormwater pollution is a serious problem that impacts the health and quality of our local waterways. It is an issue that all of our communities must address.

In order to contribute to solving the stormwater problem, local governments must adopt ordinances requiring all new development to address their stormwater impacts. Currently, all of the local governments in our watershed are required to do so by July 1, 2014 – but this requirement is currently under pressure at the 2014 General Assembly.

What is stormwater pollution? 

When it rains, the water falls on rooftops, streets, sidewalks and parking lots and then flows to our community’s waterways. Along the way, it picks up all kinds of pollutants like pet waste, fertilizers and pesticides, oil and automotive fluids. Much of the ground in cities and suburbs is covered in surfaces that do not allow this water to absorb (also called impervious surfaces) – surfaces like asphalt, cement, and roofing material– this makes polluted stormwater which flows into our rivers, streams and lakes.

What are the impacts of stormwater pollution?
Stormwater adversely impacts the quality of our local waters, as it carries with it various pollutants, sediments, and other debris from the surfaces over which it runs off. Stormwater also creates quantity problems which result in flooding, stream bank erosion, combined sewer overflows (CSO), basement flooding, and sewer backups. Polluted stormwater also often negatively affects drinking water sources. This, in turn, can affect human health and increases drinking water treatment costs.

Why is it important to address stormwater now?
Virginia has been working for over ten years on the development of stronger stormwater requirements that will protect our local streams and the James River.  We cannot wait any longer - the time to act is now!

If we don’t want to face increased flooding in our homes, businesses, and streets, increased pollution in our rivers and streams, and increased fines for inac­tion, we need to act now. The outdated methods that we rely on to carry our stormwater are not up to the task. New local programs will be designed to handle stormwater runoff and improve our waterways for future generations.

Delaying or weakening the adoption of local stormwater programs will hinder Virginia’s ability to meet its state and federal Chesapeake Bay cleanup commitments to reduce pollution from runoff and would simply create a bigger, more costly gap to overcome. The program’s improved technical requirements and effective administrative framework (including citizen participation rights) should be permitted to go into effect without delay, weakening, or dilution.

Contact your legislators (Who is my legislator?) and let them know that they must not delay or dilute Virginia's stormwater management program to ensure safe, healthy, and productive waters for us all.  They must hold firm to the July 2014 implementation deadline.

Want to take more action? Becomea member of JRA’s Action Network.

To learn more about what you can do to reduce your runoff, visit

Let us know if you take action, or if you have any questions, by contacting JRA’s Policy Specialist - Adrienne Kotula at (804) 788-8811 x206 or

1 comment:

  1. The storm water runoff fee is a perfect example of how we now must pay for things that nature previously provided for free. By developing large areas, cutting down trees and paving over land, we have increased the amount and speed of excess run off that now seriously harms the Chesapeake Bay. In the Book “Bay Country” by Tom Horton, the second chapter is trees. Besides providing shade, oxygen, food and living space for many species, Trees slow and filter runoff water from storms to the Bay. Perhaps we should call it the Cut Tree Payback Fee?