Local Program Role

Most land-disturbing activities on privately owned lands must be covered by ESC plans that have been approved by localities.  Municipal water and sewer construction projects on private lands are regulated at the local level, while DEQ regulates activities conducted by electric, telephone, natural gas and railroad companies, along with activities on state and federal lands.

There are now 166 local ESC programs in Virginia that include every county and city, and many incorporated towns (some towns are covered by a county program).  Although administrative procedures vary by locality, the basic components are consistent throughout Virginia.

Local authorities must approve a project's plan, including the identification of a "responsible land disturber," before land can be disturbed.  The local government (or its agent) will periodically inspect approved projects.  When violations or damages are found, the inspector notifies the owner and/or developer about required corrections, and a deadline for completion.  If corrections are not made, the locality is responsible for taking enforcement action as outlined in its ordinance.

Land-disturbing activities that cross local jurisdictions may be regulated at either the local or state level.  The applicant may submit the plan to DEQ, or to each locality involved.  Inspection and enforcement of multi-jurisdictional projects is generally carried out at the local level.

State Role

DEQ regulates land-disturbing activities on state and federal lands, as well as a specific group of activities undertaken by utility, interstate and intrastate pipeline and railroad companies.  These companies are required to prepare project-specific plans and annually submit general ESC specifications to DEQ for review and approval. State staff conducts inspection and enforcement on these projects.  The state program is carried out through DEQ's Stormwater Management Offices.

All land-disturbing activities on state agency property must be covered by DEQ-approved ESC plans or "annual specifications," including the identification of a responsible land disturber.  Plans to the maximum extent practicable must be consistent with local requirements which may be more stringent than state law and regulations.  The state program is responsible for plan review and approval, site inspection, complaint response and enforcement on these projects.  Additionally, DEQ establishes statewide standards and guidance, periodically reviews local ESC programs, and provides training and educational opportunities in an effort to assist local programs.

Activities on federal land must comply with applicable federal nonpoint source pollution programs on all regulated land-disturbing activities in the state.  The federal agency is responsible for achieving compliance through separate agreements or contracts with onsite developers, regular field inspection, or prompt enforcement action if appropriate against non-compliant projects.

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


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