In July 2016, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced its intent to apply to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for two federal No Discharge Zones (NDZs), for the Perrin River and Sarah Creek in Gloucester County, Va. A public meeting on the draft application will be held July 27, 2016, 6 p.m., at Abingdon Elementary School, 7087 Powhatan Drive in Hayes. Details on that meeting are available from the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall, online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewMeeting.cfm?MeetingID=24626.
According to the online information for that meeting, the Virginia Code (Section 62.1-44.33) “resolves that all tidal creeks in Virginia be designated federal No Discharge Zones premised on the improvement of impaired tidal creeks and directs the VDEQ to pursue this designation. It is currently illegal to discharge raw sewage in U.S. territorial waters. In a NDZ, this ban is expanded to include sewage treated by on-board marine sanitation devices. A NDZ is determined by EPA upon application from the state, and is contingent on the state demonstrating: 1) the need for enhanced protection of water quality, 2) the availability of sufficient local alternatives to overboard discharge (i.e. pump-outs), and 3) local stakeholder support. DEQ is seeking this designation as one component of a ‘pollution diet’ [total maximum daily load, or TMDL] for small tidal Chesapeake Bay tributaries, which are frequently impaired for shellfish harvest due to elevated levels of fecal bacteria. The Go Green Committee of Gloucester County has partnered with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science to conduct an analysis of boat usage and pump-out availability for Sarah Creek and Perrin River in Gloucester County, and DEQ has concluded that existing pump-out facilities are adequate to service estimated peak-demand.”
A draft application to EPA for NDZ designation has been prepared; the day after the public meeting, this document will be available for public review and comment on the DEQ “No Discharge Zone” Web site, at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterQualityInformationTMDLs/TMDL/NoDischargeZoneDesignations.aspx.