April 17, 2023

Vol.2, No. 5

Ozone Forecast Season Begins

Virginia’s ozone forecasting season begins today, Monday, April 17. DEQ monitors air quality at dozens of locations throughout the state and provides air quality forecasts to help Virginians enjoy clean air. Ozone, a colorless gas that forms when chemicals in the atmosphere react on hot, sunny days, is most often caused by vehicle exhaust, power plants, industrial emissions, and solvents.

By checking the air quality forecast, people who may be at risk of health effects due to poor air quality such as children, the elderly, and those with respiratory or heart issues, can reschedule strenuous outdoor activities until air quality improves.

Sign up for DEQ’s air quality forecasts and visit DEQ's website for real-time air quality information and forecasts. Both forecasts and alerts are customized to regions of the state. Northern Virginia residents should sign up for air quality forecasts through Enviroflash.

Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award

Winners Announced

DEQ announced the 2023 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards winners at the recent Environment Virginia Symposium held at VMI. Award winners went above and beyond in demonstrating their dedication to the environment. Some of the gold winners included Henrico Doctors Hospital for Sustainability in Healthcare thanks to Dr. Varun Dixit’s recycling efforts and the introduction of low-flow anesthesia techniques. Grenova also won gold for their reusable pipette tip technology which addresses supply shortages and decreases plastic waste. Some of the silver winners included Hampton City Schools for their Oyster Restoration Project, which engages grade school children to learn more about the impact oysters have on their ecosystem and directly improve oyster habitat. Tides Inn was one of the bronze winners for their Shoreline Restoration Project. Located on the Chesapeake Bay, their new boardwalk contains interpretative signage and they have restored 18,000 square feet of shoreline. Congratulations again to all the 2023 winners, including the ones not listed above. DEQ looks forward to seeing their continued hard work in keeping Virginia green! 

Compensatory Mitigation MOA Signed - CORRECTED

DEQ and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Norfolk District (USACE) signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) regarding compensatory mitigation. Compensatory mitigation may be required for impacts to wetlands and/or streams under the Virginia Water Protection Permit Program and the USACE and EPA "Compensatory Mitigation for Losses of Aquatic Resources Final Rule." The MOA is intended to divide responsibilities between the two agencies to increase efficiency in review and get mitigation credits to market faster. 

USACE will remain the lead agency responsible for review up through mitigation site approval, initial mitigation credit release, and final construction plans. DEQ will serve as the lead agency, with federal oversight, for compliance review of approved mitigation sites after construction, including review of as-built reports, monitoring reports, and financial reports, as well as mitigation credit releases and correction actions associated with these reports. USACE will retain responsibility for review of modifications to mitigation site operating agreements and bank closure processes. 

The MOA also mentions the development of a new 2023 Monitoring Report template for regular compliance monitoring of third-party mitigation sites. The Report template is intended to further increase efficiency in agency review of monitoring reports and reach credit release decisions faster. The Report template was developed by the USACE and DEQ, with input from the Virginia Interagency Review Team and the public. The Report template was public noticed by the USACE on April 12, 2023, and its use will be required on all monitoring reports for third-party compensatory mitigation sites going forward.

Pictured (from left to right): DEQ Office of Wetland and Stream Protection Director Dave Davis, DEQ Director Mike Rolband, Virginia Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources Travis Voyles, USACE Norfolk District Colonel Brian Hallberg, USACE Norfolk District Regulatory Branch Acting Chief Andy Beaudet

Consideration of Temporary Local Variance

in Loudoun County Withdrawn

DEQ has cancelled the public notice and is not moving forward at this time with the consideration of an issuance of an order granting a temporary local variance for data centers located in Loudoun County. The proposal was meant to address a concern for the area in which there may not be a sufficient amount of electricity for data centers due to severe, localized constraints in electricity transmissions through 2025. The proposal was intended to be an option to allow the data centers to continue to serve their customers, maintain the integrity of internet, and alleviate demand on the electric grid during periods of extreme stress. Given further discussion with stakeholders and public comment on the proposal, DEQ believes that these issues are now being addressed between the data centers, the utilities, and the regional transmission organization (PJM interconnect). DEQ stands ready to assist in ensuring that Virginians have a reliable, affordable, clean, and growing supply of energy in an environmentally responsible manner. 

New Extensometer Measures West Point Aquifer Changes

DEQ recently hosted a meeting of the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Advisory Committee at the Hampton Roads Sanitation District facility in West Point, where the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has begun construction of the West Point Extensometer, a joint project with DEQ. An extensometer is a device that is used to measure changes in the length of an object, and is useful for stress-strain measurements and tension tests. Committee members observed drilling operations and received updates from DEQ and USGS staff on the scientific need for an extensometer in West Point, the history of Virginia's extensometers, and the value of the data collected. This project will complete an Eastern Virginia network of four extensometers, which will measure changes in aquifer system thickness that are linked with declining groundwater levels and associated with a history of land settling and sinking in the regions surrounding West Point and Franklin. 

Stormwater Construction General Permit Automation  

To maximize the efficient use of agency resources and reduce permit processing times, DEQ is automating the Stormwater Construction General Permit (CGP) process when a project is submitted by a local Virginia Stormwater Management Program (VSMP) authority, and aims to have the new process in place by July. Local VSMP authorities will continue to use the Stormwater Construction General Permit System to input information concerning new developments and obtain CGP coverage.  

The system will facilitate the automation process with the following features:  

  • Built-in data validations to help ensure the accuracy of information submitted.  
  • Project location screening to determine the applicability of water quality and resource-specific qualifications.  
  • VSMP partners will be able to access and modify submitted permit applications to obtain modified coverage letters or initiate new CGP coverage.  

In the coming weeks, DEQ will provide a manual for system users and send notification of training for VSMP users. Please contact Trisha Beasley (703-583-3940) or Zac Robinson (804-774-9278) if you have questions.

Annual Toxic Release Inventory Report Issued

On April 6, DEQ issued its annual Toxic Release Inventory Report (TRI), which shows continued decreases in chemicals released to the environment. The TRI is a public database that records toxic chemical releases, transfers, waste management, and pollution prevention activities reported by industrial facilities throughout the U.S. This database, as well as the associated report, provides information about the types of chemicals released, the facilities involved, and contextualizes trends in Virginia’s evolving economic and environmental landscape.

Laura McKay Receives Erchul Environmental Award

Join DEQ in congratulating Laura McKay, manager of the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, on being awarded the 2023 Captain Ron Erchul Environmental Leadership Award. The award was presented during the annual Environment Virginia Symposium by the VMI Center for Leadership and Ethics and recognizes a Virginian who has made significant individual efforts to improve the environment. 

During her more than 40-year tenure in natural resources, McKay’s efforts have led to the conservation and restoration of critical wildlife habitat, increased coastal resilience, and supported oyster, eelgrass, and bay scallop restoration. She has been a key voice on the Management Board for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean and her leadership and dedication have brought numerous stakeholders together in a common purpose. 

McKay pictured in the Magothy Bay Natural Area Preserve on the seaside of Virginia's Eastern Shore, acquired in part with NOAA funds through the Virginia CZM Program. 

New UST Equipment Test Forms Available

New underground storage tank (UST) equipment test forms are available. Although the forms are not mandatory, DEQ strongly encourages UST testing contractors to use them, as doing so will assist the agency in more efficiently processing this information.

Public Participation Opportunities

Visit the DEQ website for comment opportunities on pending enforcement orders and permit actions. The following regulatory actions are available for public comment:

In addition, there are numerous DEQ meetings where you can stay up to date on topics of interest:

Employment Opportunities

Are you committed to protecting human health and the environment? Apply for a job at DEQ. Some open positions currently open are:

  • Air Permit Writer (Harrisonburg; closes April 21)
  • Enforcement Specialist (Salem; closes April 25)
  • Health and Safety Manager (Richmond)
  • Air Permit Writer (Washington)
  • VPDES POTW & Industrial Waste Water Treatment Compliance Coordinator (Richmond)
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