Water Protection Ordinance (WPO) Amendment – Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination



Work session on amending the WPO to incorporate rules prohibiting illicit discharges to any storm sewer system or state waters.



Tucker, Foley, Davis, Kamptner, Shadman, Harper






January 3, 2007


ACTION:     X                           INFORMATION:   



  ACTION:                                INFORMATION:   








Albemarle County, under its Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (VPDES) permit, must implement a program to detect and eliminate illicit discharges to its storm sewer system.  One component of this program is the adoption of an ordinance prohibiting non-stormwater discharges into the storm sewer system.  The proposed text amendments to the Water Protection Ordinance (WPO) would satisfy this component of the state mandate.


In addition to a new article in the WPO regarding illicit discharges and connections, other housekeeping-type amendments are proposed to the WPO, including: 1) designating the watershed of the North Fork Rivanna River intake as a water supply protection area, 2) correcting an omission in stream buffer requirements for crop lands, and 3) updating obsolete language throughout the WPO.



Goal 2: Protect the County’s Natural Resources.



Albemarle County is regulated as an operator of a small municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.  Under the VPDES program, the County is mandated to protect water resources through the implementation of six minimum control measures.  Measure three is illicit discharge detection and elimination (IDDE).


IDDE is a strategy to keep non-stormwater pollutants – such as sewage, wash water, vehicle fluids, and food wastes – from entering the storm sewer system and, ultimately, natural streams.  According to the Center for Watershed Protection, past studies have indicated that non-stormwater flows from storm sewer systems may contribute a greater quantity of some pollutants than stormwater flows.  While County staff have already developed and have begun implementing methods to locate and eliminate possible illicit discharges, the County is required to expressly prohibit these discharges.


A condition of the County’s VPDES permit reads:

“To the extent allowable under state, tribal or local law, effectively prohibit, through ordinance, or other regulatory mechanism, non-stormwater discharges into the storm sewer system and implement appropriate enforcement procedures and actions.”


A review of existing County ordinances reveals only two that are remotely related to IDDE:

Sec. 13-300 – Dumping waste on public property, a public highway, right-of-way, or on private property.

A. It shall be unlawful for any person to dump or otherwise dispose of refuse or other unsightly matter on public property, including a public highway, right-of-way, property adjacent to such highway or right-of-way, or on private property without the written consent of the owner thereof or his agent.

Sec. 16-404 – Prohibited Waste Discharges

No person shall discharge or cause to be discharged into any portion of the sewerage system, directly or indirectly, any pollutant or wastewater which will interfere with the operation or performance of the collection system or sewage treatment plant; constitute a hazard to human life or health, interfere with or impede the disposal of treatment by-products such as scums and sludges; pass through the treatment system so as to violate any local, State or Federal stream standard; or create a public nuisance.


Neither of these sections is particularly applicable to IDDE.  Section13-300 is concerned with solid and semi-liquid wastes and doesn’t explicitly mention storm sewer systems or natural streams.  Section 16-404 is similar in intent to the IDDE program but is relevant only to the sanitary sewer system.


In addition to the County Code, the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code, to which our building ordinance refers, contains rules which require the connection of both residential and commercial plumbing fixtures to a sanitary sewer or approved private sewage disposal system.


Proposed Illicit Discharge Rules

The proposed amendment language (Attachment A) is derived from a model ordinance developed by the Center for Watershed Protection and refined by way of staff discussions.


Major features of the draft amendment are:


The County is specifically required to take measures to prevent illicit discharges to its MS4 (municipal separate storm sewer system).  However, the purpose of this requirement is to protect receiving streams and other water resources.  The County, unlike the City of Charlottesville, for instance, does not own and maintain a significant MS4.  The County has only a few small, discrete storm sewer systems located on County-owned properties.  The state enabling authority allows localities to adopt regulations that do more than the minimum provided by state law.  In order to effectively fulfill the intent of the state mandate, the proposed amendment extends the range of the County’s authority to include any storm sewer system (public or private) and all state waters within the County.



The proposed IDDE ordinance amendment would give staff the authority needed to effectively bring to an end any identified illicit discharges.


Other Text Amendments

Additional housekeeping-type amendments to the WPO are proposed, including:


Updates to outdated language – These updates include changing terminology such as “department of engineering and public works”.


North Fork Rivanna River intake – The WPO grants protection to the public water supply through 1) the designation of water supply protection areas and 2) imposing more stringent stream buffer and stormwater management requirements in these areas.  The North Fork Rivanna River intake is the primary source of potable water for the northern portions of the Albemarle County Service Authority jurisdictional area and yet is currently lacking the same level of protection as that for water supply reservoirs because this intake is not included in the definition of water supply protection areas in the WPO.  The proposed text change will include the watershed of the North Fork Rivanna River intake in the definition of water supply protection areas.


Stream Buffer Requirement for Crop Lands – Section 17-317(D) of the WPO states that a 25-foot buffer be retained or established along perennial streams and contiguous wetlands located on agricultural lands used for crop land.  However, staff has not been able to enforce this requirement because agricultural uses are not included in the applicability section (Section 17-300) to which Section 17-317 pertains.  Adding the word “agricultural” to this clause will correct this omission.  The proposed change will not alter any other aspect of the WPO as it relates to agricultural activities – all those uses currently exempted (agricultural ponds, pasture land, hay land, etc.) will continue to be exempt.



The IDDE program is being implemented using existing staff resources and through an existing, ongoing contract with the Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District.  The adoption of the proposed WPO text amendments will not result in the need for any additional staff or capital expenditures.



Staff recommends that the attached ordinance be set for public hearing.



Attachment A – Proposed text amendment to the Water Protection Ordinance.

Attachment B – Map indicating the watershed of the North Fork Rivanna River intake.

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