Virginia’s Watershed Planning Process for Water Quality Management

Section 303(e) of the Clean Water Act (CWA), and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) implementing regulations at 40 CFR • 130.5 require that states have a continuing planning process (CPP) for all navigable waters. Among other things, plans are to include effluent limits and incorporation of total maximum daily loads (TMDL) for pollutants, schedules for compliance with effluent limits, provisions for intergovernmental cooperation, and adequate assurance for implementation, including schedules of compliance.

Virginia’s CPP explains the processes the State uses to administer its water programs and to develop plans to improve, protect and maintain the quality of the Commonwealth’s waters.   Virginia DEQ programs, which implement the key aspects of the CPP include the following:

 Many steps in the CPP process adhere to the State Water Control Board’s public participation guidelines.

Processes Required or Authorized Under CPP

  • Development of Effluent Limits and Schedules of Compliance
  • Incorporating Sections 208 and 209 Plans, as required by the Clean Water Act
  • Developing Total Maximum Daily Loads (Pollution Budgets)
  • Water Quality Based Effluent Limits
  • Updating and Maintaining Water Quality Management Plans
  • Governmental CooperationEstablishing and Implementing Water Quality Standards
  • Control of Waste from Treatment Plants
  • Construction Needs (Improvements) for Waste Treatment Works
  • Determining the Priority of Permit Issuance

Water Quality Management Planning Regulation

The Water Quality Management Planning Regulation (WQMPR) presents numeric limits and loads as set through the CPP.   Information in the WQMPR is presented in more detail through water permits, water quality monitoring data, and TMDL reports.

The WQMPR lists by major river basin the following: EPA-approved and board-adopted total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) and the stream segment classifications, effluent limitations including water quality based effluent limitations, and waste load allocations contained in water quality management plans (WQMPs).   The regulation is 9 VAC 25-720. The major river basins include:

  • Shenandoah-Potomac
  • Rappahannock
  • Eastern Shore, Coastal Rivers, Chesapeake Bay
  • York
  • James
  • Roanoke
  • New
  • Tennessee – Big Sandy
  •  Chowan & Dismal Swamp

Each section pertaining to a major river basin is divided into the following parts:

  • Part A. Overall Waste Load Allocations for TMDL
  • Part B. Stream segment classifications, effluent limitations and waste load allocations by permittee.
  • Part C. Nitrogen and Phosphorus Wasteload Allocations to Restore the Chesapeake Bay and its Tidal Rivers 

Authority to enact the Water Quality Management Planning Regulation is given by 62.1-44.15(10) & (13) of the Code of Virginia.  You can track amendments to the regulation through the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall.   

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


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