Two Virginia Water Resources Studies Called for by 2015 General Assembly: 1) Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Advisory Committee Convenes Aug. 18, 2015; 2) JLARC Study of Groundwater and Surface Water Planning and Management – Report Completed October 2016

The 2015 Virginia General Assembly passed two sets of bills that call for examination of various aspects of Virginia’s water resources.

Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Advisory Committee

First, the General Assembly passed HB 1924 and SB 1341, companion bills that established the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Advisory Committee.  The Committee is to assist the State Water Commission and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in developing, revising, and implementing a management strategy for groundwater in the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area.   The Committee’s first meeting is 8/18/15, 1 p.m., at the DEQ’s Piedmont Regional Office, 4949-A Cox Road in Glen Allen.

The bills state that the Advisory Committee is to examine the following:
(i) options for developing long-term alternative water sources, including water reclamation and reuse, ground water recharge, desalination, and surface water options, including creation of storage reservoirs;
(ii) the interaction between the Department of Environmental Quality’s ground water management programs and local and regional water supply plans within the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area for purposes of determining water demand and possible solutions for meeting that demand;
(iii) potential funding options both for study and for implementation of management options;
(iv) alternative management structures, such as a water resource trading program, formation of a long-term ground water management committee, and formation of a commission;
(v) additional data needed to more fully assess aquifer health and sustainable ground water management strategies;
(vi) potential future ground water permitting criteria; and
(vii) other policies and procedures that the director of the [DEQ] determines may enhance the effectiveness of ground water management in the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area.”

The Committee is to provide its report by August 2017.

More information about the Advisory Committee is available online at http://deq.state.va.us/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity.aspx; more information about groundwater management areas in Virginia is available online at http://www.deq.state.va.us/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/GroundwaterPermitting.aspx.

Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission Study of Virginia’s Water Resources Planning and Management

The 2015 General Assembly also passed HJ 623, which directed the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) to study Virginia’s water resource planning and management, particularly with regard to groundwater. The resolution called for the JLARC study to consider and assess the following:
i) the extent to which groundwater and surface water consumption is unsustainable, the potential effects of any unsustainable consumption, and the risk of over-consumption in the future;
ii) the effectiveness of the state’s permitting process for groundwater and surface water withdrawals; …the effectiveness of state and local water resource planning, particularly with regard to groundwater, including the role state and local plans play in water withdrawal permitting;
iii) the adequacy of current funding and staff levels for managing Virginia’s water resources;
iv) the need for strategies and practices to preserve or increase the amount of groundwater and surface water available for future consumption; and
v) any other issues and, make any other recommendations, as appropriate.

JLARC completed its report in October 2016.  The report, “Effectiveness of Virginia’s Water Resource Planning and Management,” is available online at http://jlarc.virginia.gov/landing-water.asp.

News Articles on One or Both Studies
(Listed from most recent to oldest; hyperlinks were working at the time of posting, but they may not be
later.)

JLARC staff suggests broader state role in water supply planning and permitting: JLARC staff suggests broader state role in water supply planning and permitting, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 10/11/16.

New panel looks at why underground water is disappearing east of Interstate 95, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 8/18/15.

Groundwater Management Committee to be watched closely by James City County, Virginia Gazette, 8/14/15.

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