Authority to enact Virginia Water Protection (VWP) permit regulations is given by § 62.1-44.15:20 of the Code of Virginia.
The over-arching regulation for the permit program is the Virginia Water Protection (VWP) Permit Program Regulation, 9 VAC 25-210
Several general permit regulations have also been developed since 2000. Certain activities that are considered to have minimal impacts to human health and the environment may be covered under one of these VWP general permit regulations:
- VWP General Permit WP1 for Impacts Less than One-Half of an Acre, 9 VAC 25-660
- VWP General Permit WP2 for Facilities and Activities of Utility and Public Service Companies Regulated by the Federal Energy Commission or the State Corporation Commission and Other Utility Line Activities, 9 VAC 25-670
- VWP General Permit WP3 for Linear Transportation Projects, 9 VAC 25-680
- VWP General Permit WP4 for Impacts from Development and Certain Mining Activities, 9 VAC 25-690
For more information on how regulations are developed, please visit DEQ's Regulatory Guide that describes the Administrative Process Act (APA). New regulations or revisions to existing regulations are posted in the Virginia Register. Public meetings, public notices, and regulatory actions may also be posted on the Virginia Town Hall web site. Please visit these web sites often for the latest information on regulatory actions conducted by DEQ. However, please be aware that some regulatory actions, such as the development and revision of general permit regulations, are exempt from certain steps in the APA.
Generally, activities requiring a permit include dredging, filling, or discharging any pollutant into or adjacent to surface waters, or otherwise altering the physical, chemical or biological properties of surface waters, excavating in wetlands, or on or after October 1, 2001, conducting the following activities in a wetland:
- New activities to cause draining that significantly alters or degrades existing wetland acreage or functions.
- Filling or dumping.
- Permanent flooding or impounding.
- New activities that cause significant alteration or degradation of existing wetland acreage or functions.
Withdrawal of surface water may require a permit or water use reporting. See, surface water withdrawals and impoundments for more information.
A permit from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, Clean Water Act Section 404 permit, a Rivers and Harbors Act Section 10 permit, and/or a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license or license re-issuance may be required in addition to a VWP permit.
Specific details on what activities require permits, what activities don't, and which permit applies to which activity are located within the regulations section above.
Application Process for Permits
Obtain the appropriate application form: either the Standard Joint Permit Application (JPA) for most projects, the Tidewater JPA for certain projects in tidal areas, or the DEQ Application for New or Expanded Minor Surface Water Withdrawals. Detailed instructions on how to apply are included with each form. Forms may be downloaded from the links below or can be obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) web site, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) office at (757) 247-2200, or the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality offices.
Applicants may also use DEQ’s Application Checklists when applying for coverage under a DEQ general permit WP1, WP2, WP3, or WP4. The use of the checklists is optional but may assist DEQ permit managers in their review of your application. The checklist spreadsheet contains one checklist for each type of general permit. If you are pretty certain about the type of permit that may cover your project, simply submit the corresponding, completed checklist with your application (either electronically or on paper).
Submit the Joint Permit Application to VMRC at:
Virginia Marine Resources Commission
Habitat Management Division2600
Washington Avenue, 3rd Floor
Newport News, Virginia 23607-0756
VMRC assigns a permit number and distributes the application to participating federal, state, and local agencies. Each agency will decide separately whether to issue a permit for the proposed project. Each agency responds separately to the applicant. DEQ may consult with other state and federal agencies on the proposed project.
Time Permits are Effective
Issued VWP Individual Permits are valid for a maximum of up to 15 years by law. The actual length of time your individual permit is valid may vary depending on the nature of the authorized project.
Issued VWP General Permit Authorizations are valid for a set time period, as required in the regulations that establish them. For WP1 the maximum authorization term is up to 3 years. For WP2, WP3 and WP4, the maximum term is up to 7 years.
Additional State and Federal Regulations
The enactment of the Tidal Wetlands Act of 1972 gave the Virginia Marine Resources Commission
the responsibility for issuing tidal wetlands permits under Chapters 12 and 13 of Title 28.2 of the Code of Virginia. While Chapter 12 activities permitted by Virginia Marine Resources Commission may require a separate Virginia Water Protection permit, Chapter 13 activities only require a separate Virginia Water Protection permit if § 401 Certification is required. Thus, DEQ provides the § 401 Certification
through issuing a Virginia Water Protection permit. In some instances when a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
nationwide or regional permit is also issued on the same Chapter 12 or 13 activities permitted by Virginia Marine Resources Commission, DEQ may provide the § 401 Certification through a letter agreement, thereby concurring that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit conditions meet State regulatory goals, or waive the requirement for a Virginia Water Protection permit altogether.
Since 1992, the Virginia Water Protection Permit Program has served as the Commonwealth's Section 401 Certification process for both tidal and nontidal impacts permitted under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. In 2000, the General Assembly removed the dependence of the State nontidal wetlands program on the issuance of a Federal permit, thus enabling DEQ to use the Virginia Water Protection Permit Program to regulate activities in wetlands. Such activities as certain types of excavation in wetlands and fill in isolated wetlands (which may not be under Federal jurisdiction) were added to the activities already regulated through the Section 401 Certification process.
DEQ can provide Section 401 Certification through issuing a Virginia Water Protection individual or general permit or by certifying U.S. Army Corps of Engineers nationwide or regional permits. Some U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit Certifications contain conditions which must be met in order for the Certification to apply. Some U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits are not §401-Certified at all, and thus, impacts under these U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits will also require a Virginia Water Protection permit to ensure State natural resources are protected.
The following information below summarizes DEQ's Section 401 Certification of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers nationwide and regional permits and any DEQ conditions that exist on the certification.
See Archives page under "Resources and Links" for certifications prior to 2007.
The following July 10, 2002 Memorandum of Understanding outlines the roles and responsibilities of both the DEQ and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Information on wetlands and other DEQ water permit programs can be obtained in DEQ Guidance Memorandums.
The 2009 Status and Trends report summarizes trends in permitting, compensation, and compliance activities carried out by the VDEQ Water Division’s Office of Wetlands and Stream Protection.
Maps of wetland areas have not been generated by the Virginia DEQ for the Commonwealth of Virginia. However, some mapping is available through the U.S. Geological Survey. This mapping, know as National Wetlands Inventory
, should be used as a general reference only
. This mapping in no way constitutes all of the wetland areas in Virginia, nor does it replace on-the-ground assessments or delineations of wetland areas.