The City is serious about water quality. One way we show it is by taking a proactive role in protecting and restoring our water resources is through enforcing and complying with local, state, and federal regulations. While Alexandria’s geographical location means that pollutant loadings within our waterways are influenced by upstream activities beyond our jurisdictional boundaries, the City continues its commitment to protect and enhance instream water quality through many programmed activities.
As required by the new VSMP regulations , the City began administering the VSMP locally effective July 1, 2014. This includes 'Chesapeake Bay Land-Disturbing Activities' of greater than or equal to 2,500 square feet and less than one acre, while land disturbing activities of 1 acre or greater except for detached single family homes within or outside a common plan of development or sale, are required to apply for coverage under the VPDES construction general permit.
For a detailed description on how to apply for a permit and the fees associated with different land disturbance activities, please see Memo to Industry 08-14. The memo includes information such as when fees are due, the schedule for permit review and approval, and how to renew, modify or terminate a permit.
To apply for coverage, a VPDES Construction General Permit Registration Statement and a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) must be submitted to the City during the plan review process when applying for coverage under the VPDES construction general permit. Before closeout and when applicable, the project must also submit a Notice of Termination (NOT) to the City and schedule an inspection with Construction Management & Inspection (CM&I) section before the NOT can be approved and processed. For more information on Construction General Permits or to view a copy of the 2014 General Permit for Discharges of Stormwater from Construction Activities (effective July 1, 2014), visit the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s Construction General Permit webpage or read the above Memo to Industry.
Article XIII of the City's Zoning Ordinance - the Environmental Management Ordinance - was adopted by the City in 1992, and later revised in 2014, to comply with the Virginia Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Designation and Management Regulations and the VSMP regulations. The purpose of this Ordinance is to protect local streams, the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. Land development projects in the City are subject to these requirements, to protect environmentally sensitive lands, minimize potential pollution from stormwater runoff, minimize potential erosion and sedimentation, reduce the introduction of harmful nutrients and toxins into state waters, maximize rainwater infiltration while protecting groundwater, and ensure the long-term performance of the measures employed to accomplish the statutory purpose.
Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance
The basis of our efforts to control runoff from construction sites is the City's VSMP, which includes the Erosion & Sediment Control Program and Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act compliance program, which is enforced through our Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance and Environmental Management Ordinance. Each program is designed to meet State mandates for erosion and sediment control and water quality protection. These programs require that any construction project that disturbs at least 2,500 square feet have a City approved construction pollution prevention plan and install appropriate construction site runoff controls to meet the goal of reduced pollutant discharge to our streams.
The Commonwealth of Virginia has been authorized to implement the NPDES program at the state level, as mandated by the Clean Water Act and EPA's Phase 1 (11/16/90) and Phase 2 (12/8/99) stormwater regulations.
Combined Sewer System (CSS) VPDES Permit
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) administers a portion of the federal program as the Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (VPDES) permit program, which is authorized under the State Water Control Law. The VPDES permit program includes the City's Combined Sewer System.
Like many older cities, a portion of the City historical Old Town area is served by a combined sewer system (CSS). These systems were designed to capture and transport stormwater and wastewater in the same pipe. Most of the time, the CSS transports all of its flow to the wastewater treatment plant. However, during periods of excessive rainfall or snowmelt, the capacity of the CSS may be exceeded and the excess flow is then discharged directly to Hunting Creek, Hooff’s Run, or the Potomac River at Oronoco Bay through four permitted CSS) outfalls following qualifying rain events.
Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) VPDES Permit
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) implements the federal program through the Virginia Stormwater Management Program (VSMP) Regulations, which is authorized by the Virginia Stormwater Management Act. DEQ is responsible for the issuance, denial, revocation, termination and enforcement of individual and general permits for the control of stormwater discharges from municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) and construction activities.
The purpose of the VSMP permit regulations is to protect water quality from urban pollution carried by stormwater into waters of the State. Stormwater runoff from urban areas may contain sediments, fertilizers, pesticides, bacteria, motor oil, and other pollutants generated by various land uses and human activities. When left uncontrolled, this pollution can result in the impairment or destruction of fish, wildlife, and aquatic life habitats; a loss in aesthetic value; and threats to public safety and health.
To achieve these water quality goals, the permit requires the City to control the discharge of pollutants to the maximum extent practicable by creating a Stormwater Program Plan to address six minimum control measures (MCMs).