Rulemaking information

The following tables describe the status of rulemakings to amend the Water Quality Standards Regulation

Exceptional State Waters - Laurel Fork

Water Quality Criteria Rulemaking

(Freshwater Ammonia Criteria)

Triennial Review

Freshwater Nutrient Criteria

James River Chlorophyll Study

mountain stream


Public notices asking for comment and ad hoc meeting dates are published in the Virginia Register. Look for submittals in the Register under the State Water Control Board. Submittals - Proposed Regulations, Final Regulations or General Notices (for ad hoc or standing advisory committee meetings).

Track these amendments through the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall. Search for Water Quality Standards

1. Exceptional State Waters - Laurel Fork. A citizen submitted a petition to designate a portion of Laurel Fork as Exceptional State Waters (ESW). ESWs are sometime referred to as Tier 3 waters and are provided special protection to prevent degradation and preserve them for future generations. 

Action Schedule Other Information

State Water Control Board meeting

General Assembly Building - Room C

December 12, 2016

 December 12 Board memo

Laurel Fork - staff presentation

Notice Of Intended Regulatory Action (NOIRA)

Laurel Fork NOIRA-Link to Notice - (page 2034)

Comment period - May 15, 2017 - June 14, 2017   Laurel Fork Agency Background Document 


2. Water Quality Criteria Rulemaking. During the latest Triennial Review of the water quality standards, adoption of several amendments under consideration was deferred until a later time in order to more fully examine the issues. Potential amendments are: bacteria criteria to protect recreational uses, freshwater ammonia criteria, cadmium criteria, human health criteria.

Action Schedule Other Information

Regulatory Advisory Panel meeting

March 23, 2016           



March 23, 2016 Agenda DEQ Staff Presentation - March 23, 2016 Presentation - “Assessing the effects of wastewater treatment plant effluents on freshwater mussels: ammonia data” – Serena Ciparis March 23 - Meeting summary

Handouts Ammonia criteria fact sheet - EPA Suggested language for ammonia criteria implementation and variance - VAMWA Human health criteria fact sheet - EPA Human health criteria comparison - Final updated (2015) and previous EPA criteria

Soon after the 3/23 RAP meeting, EPA issued their "Aquatic Life Ambient Water Quality Criteria Update for Cadmium"

  Regulatory Advisory Panel meeting May 9, 2016 - DEQ Central Office May 9 - Agenda Staff presentation - May 9, 2016 May 9 - Meeting summary
  Regulatory Advisory Panel meeting June 13, 2016 - DEQ Central Office Staff presentation - June 13, 2016 June 13 - Meeting summary VDH Background & Discussion Points handout BEACH Act language
  Regulatory Advisory Panel meeting July 20, 2016 - DEQ Piedmont Regional Office July 20 - Agenda Staff presentation - July 20, 2016 July 20 - Meeting summary Selenium fact sheet 'Strawman' permit implementation language Summation of issues addressed

 State Water Control Board meeting

General Assembly Building - Room C

December 12, 2016

 Board memo - November 4, 2016

Staff presentation - SWCB meeting December 12, 2016

Notice Of Public Comment - Water Quality Criteria - Comment period Sept. 18 - Nov. 17, 2017

Additional Notice- 2nd public hearing

NOTE: Comment period extended until Dec. 8, 2017

10/24/2017 - 2:00 PM
DEQ Central Office
629 East Main St.
2nd Floor
Richmond, VA

11/28/2017 - 4:00 PM
DEQ Roanoke Regional Office
3019 Peters Creek Road, Roanoke, VA

Agency background document - Water Quality Criteria rulemaking

Regulatory Advisory Panel meeting February 21, 2018, 1:00 – 3:00 Department of Environmental Quality – Central Office, 14th Floor 1111 East Main Street, Suite 1400 Richmond, VA 23218

State Water Control Board meeting
August 21, 2018 @ 9:00 a.m.
House Committee Room, First Floor


Board memo and attachments - May 10, 2018

(Freshwater Ammonia Criteria). This is a continuation of the above rulemaking to amend the water quality standards which was the subject of a Notice Of Public Comment (NOPC) published in the Virginia Register of Regulations on September 18, 2017 (Volume 34, Issue 2). The NOPC proposes several amendments to the water quality standards but the agency decided to delay the adoption of the amendments for freshwater ammonia criteria (9VAC25-260-155. A-C) due to the passage of House Bill 1475 during the 2018 General Assembly. The legislation directs the State Water Control Board not to adopt the most recent ammonia criteria recommended by EPA unless the Board includes in such adoption a phased implementation program consistent with the federal Clean Water Act with certain funding and timing considerations. Information regarding the phased implementation program for freshwater ammonia criteria is in the table below.

Action Schedule Other Information
Ammonia criteria implementation

Link to Notice Of Public Comment Opportunity – Freshwater Ammonia Criteria Phased Implementation Plan. VA Register, Vol, 34; Issue 25, page 2562.

Comment period August 6 – October 5, 2018

The notice solicits comment regarding additional proposed language developed to address phased implementation of proposed ammonia criteria for freshwater. Two public hearings will be held:

September 11, 2018 – 2:00 p.m.   Department of Environmental Quality, Blue Ridge Regional Office, 3019 Peters Creek Road, Roanoke, VA 24019

September 13, 2018 – 2:00 p.m. Department of Environmental Quality, Piedmont Regional Office, 4949-A Cox Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060

Comment will also be accepted regarding the need for adoption of new, updated or cancellation of existing water quality standards contained in Virginia Administrative Code § 9VAC25-260, and to fulfill federal mandates for a three-year review of the standards. Any comment received will be taken into consideration for future regulatory action on the water quality standards.

Link to proposed language

State Water Control Board meeting

December 13, 2018 at 10:00

Pocohantas Building

900 East Main Street

Richmond, VA

Board memo and attachments regarding freshwater ammonia criteria

3. Triennial Review. DEQ must fulfill legal mandates for a three-year review under the Code of Virginia §62.1-44.15(3a) and federal regulations 40 CFR 131. The existing regulation may be proposed for amendment(s) to reflect new scientific information and to clarify the regulation. Changes may also be proposed to improve implementation of water quality standards in Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits and in monitoring and assessments of surface waters. Some of the changes may be to numerical and narrative criteria, use designations, classifications, site specific or special standards, stream descriptions, antidegradation and implementation procedures such as mixing zones, variances and assessment procedures.

Action Schedule Other Information

State Water Control Board meeting

Minutes - March 28, 2014

March 28, 2014, 10:00 AM DEQ Training Room

Piedmont Regional Office 4949-A Cox Road Glen Allen, VA 23060

Board memo - February 25, 2014 Attachment 1 Attachment 2 Attachment 3 Attachment 4

Notice Of Public Comment - Link to Notice (page 1949)

7/29/2015 - 2:00 PM at DEQ Piedmont Regional Office - 4949-A Cox Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060

8/4/2015 - 2:00 PM at DEQ Roanoke Regional Office - 3019 Peters Creek Road, Roanoke, VA 24019

Agency Background Document - Triennial Review

Staff Public Hearing Presentation

State Water Control Board meeting

Minutes January 14, 2016

January 14, 2016, 9:30 AM

Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Board Room 7870 Villa Park Drive, Richmond, VA 23228

Board Memo - December 18, 2015 Memo Attachment 1 Memo attachment 2 Memo attachment 3 Memo attachment 4 Memo attachment 5

 Notice of effective date

 EPA approval Letter and rationale  


4. James River Chlorophyll Study. DEQ is undertaking a comprehensive review of the existing James River Site-Specific Numeric Chlorophyll-a Criteria and associated modeling framework for the tidal James River to determine the best scientific basis for the standard. This effort is being initiated as a result of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL Phase I Watershed implementation Plan (WIP). Detailed information regarding technical development progress and meetings is located on the Nutrient Criteria Development web page.

Action Schedule Other Information

Notice Of Intended Regulatory Action (NOIRA) - link to NOIRA - page 4

Comment period September 12, 2011 - October 12, 2011  
Regulatory Advisory Panel meeting June 21, 2016 1:00 - 3:00 Meeting minutes - June 21 DEQ staff presentation - June 21 Chesapeake Bay Foundation presentation Current and alternate chlorophyll 'a' assessment methodology presentation
Regulatory Advisory Panel meeting DEQ Piedmont Regional Office August 10, 2016

Meeting minutes - August 10 Agenda - August 10

VMA Concerns with Proposed Revisions to the JamesRiver Chlorophyll a Criteria - VMA

Options For Moving Forward With Establishing Chlorophyll 'a' Criteria for the James River - Ches. Bay Foundation/Ches. Bay Program VAMWA Perspectives - James River Chlorophyll 'a' Criteria Study - VAMWA

 Regulatory Advisory Panel meeting 

Patrick Henry Building

1111 East Broad St.

Richmond, VA

December 14, 2016 
Meeting minutes - TBA

Agenda - December 14, 2016


Proposed Revisions to James River Chlorophyll-a Criteria and Assessment Methodology– DEQ

Initial James River Chlorophyll Criteria Attainability Evaluation – DEQ

Criteria and Assessment Development Documents


-Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee Peer Review for the James River Chlorophyll-a Criteria Re-evaluation

-Critical Review of the Existing Tidal Waters Chlorophyll a Assessment Procedures and Recommendations on Alternatives– Criteria Assessment Protocol Work Group

-Proposed Chlorophyll ‘a’ Criteria Revisions for the Tidal James River – DEQ

-James River Chlorophyll Criteria Attainability According to EPA and James River Models - DEQ           

-Chlorophyll‐a Criteria Recommendations for the James River Estuary – Virginia Association of Municipal Wastewater Agencies

-Establishing Defensible Chlorophyll a Criteria for Protection of the Tidal James River - Chesapeake Bay Foundation/U.S. EPA Chesapeake Bay Program Office



 Regulatory Advisory Panel meeting

DEQ Piedmont Regional Office

April 25, 2017


Potential Chlorophyll-a Criteria Alternatives - C. Bell

Representativeness of pH and Chlorophyll at Rice Center Pier - T. Robertson

  James River Chlorophyll Criteria Development Regulatory Advisory Panel meeting February 26, 2018, 10:00 – 12:00 Department of Environmental Quality – Central Office, 14th Floor 1111 East Main Street, Suite 1400 Richmond, VA 23218  
Regulatory Advisory Panel meeting

James River Chlorophyll Criteria Development Regulatory Advisory Panel meeting

August 8, 2018

Presentation - James River Chlorophyll 'a' Criteria - Preliminary Modeling Results and Additional
Proposed Criteria Revisions

James River Chlorophyll 'a' Criteria Technical Support Document 

Board meeting State Water Control Board meeting

September 20, 2018

Board memo and attachments requesting publication of NOPC for James River chlorophyll criteria 

Board minutes - James River chlorophyll criteria

Regulatory Advisory Panel meeting

James River Chlorophyll Criteria Development Regulatory Advisory Panel meeting

Piedmont Regional Office

10:00-12:00 October 31, 2018


Presentation - James River Water Quality Model Refinement and Scenario Runs - Jian Shen 

Presentation - Preliminary James River Chlorophyll Criteria Attainment Results of VAMWA Scenarios run through the VIMS Eutrophication Model - Tish Robertson


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

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