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Local Program Compliance

Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act (§62.1-44.15:67 et seq.) specifies that the protection of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries is to be accomplished through a cooperative state-local program and that local governments are uniquely qualified to advance this goal through their zoning and land use authorities. In accordance with this premise, the Bay Act requires cities, counties and towns in Tidewater, Virginia to administer the Bay Act and the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Designation and Management Regulations (Regulations) through their local ordinances, policies and comprehensive plans. As required in the Bay Act, DEQ provides  technical and financial assistance to the localities administering the Act and Regulations.

Due to their comprehensive nature, the requirements of the Bay Act regulations were implemented in phases:

  • Designation and mapping of Chesapeake Bay Preservation Areas and adoption of ordinances to protect these areas - Phase I
  • Incorporation of water quality protection policies into local comprehensive plans - Phase II
  • Incorporation of measure to protect waters of the state into local land use ordinances and identification of conflicts between land use ordinances and water quality protection - Phase III

To ensure that the law and regulations are consistently enforced at the local level, the State Water Control Board is responsible for ongoing review of these implementation measures. The Commonwealth has developed materials, with input from local governments and other stakeholders, as the policies, procedures and tools to be used in conducting local government compliance evaluations.

Compliance Evaluation Procedure and Review Elements

According to Section 9VAC25-830-260 of the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Designation and Management Regulations, the State Water Control Board evaluates compliance with the implementation of local Bay Act programs. 

1. Five-Year Compliance Review

In accordance with the Bay Act regulations, compliance reviews are to occur on a five-year cycle, and, when feasible, will be conducted as part of the local government's comprehensive plan review and update process. The department may also conduct a comprehensive or partial program compliance review and evaluation of a local government program more frequently than the standard schedule. The review process consists of a self-evaluation by each local government of local program implementation and enforcement as well as an evaluation by department staff. Based on these evaluations, DEQ, on behalf of the board will make a determination of compliance regarding the implementation of each local program. Upon completion of the compliance review process and a finding of satisfactory implementation, the local program will be deemed compliant with the Bay Act and regulations. This compliant finding will be valid for a five-year period unless DEQ becomes aware of programmatic deficiencies through a complaint investigation or some other means.  To see the latest local contact and compliance information click on this link: Locality Contact & Compliance Status

2. Implementation Evaluation Checklist

Procedures for the conduct of compliance evaluations of local programs and a set of checklists are used by DEQ and local staff. These mechanisms are used in preparing a “snap shot” of the local program.

3. Annual Implementation Reporting

In addition to the compliance review process, the regulations require that each Tidewater local government submit an annual report outlining the implementation of the local program between compliance evaluations. DEQ has developed and occasionally revises the reporting criteria. The board uses the information in these reports to assess local patterns of compliance with the Act and this chapter and to evaluate the need for an administrative proceeding to more closely review any individual local government's compliance. All proceedings of this nature are conducted in accordance with the Administrative Process Act. 

Locality Annual Implementation Report

The Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Designation and Management Regulations require Bay Act localities to annually submit a report outlining implementation of their local programs. The annual implementation report is intended to complement ongoing compliance review processes, and to provide post-review assessments of all local programs. Submittal by Bay Act localities of the two-page 2012 Assessment of Local Government Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Activity form meets this reporting requirement and helps Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Board gauge the status and continued progress of local program implementation for those localities found compliant by the Board.

Localities are required to complete their Annual Reports for the previous fiscal year, and the reports are due to DEQ October 1 of each year.  This fixed reporting cycle will ensure that local reports reflect the current status of each local government’s program and help Department staff better assist localities in completing the reports and subsequent compliance evaluations.

To give all localities ample time to compile the necessary information prior to submission deadline, each locality will be informed of the information to be tracked for the annual report at the time their program is found compliant. DEQ has developed spreadsheets and databases that can be used by localities to track the requested information.

To return the questionnaire you may either mail or submit it electronically.

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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