Revisions to the Virginia Stormwater Management Regulations (SWM) became effective on Sept. 13, 2011. The revised regulations require most Virginia localities to operate their own local stormwater management program. Only towns without an MS4 program have the option of administering their SWM program or having development regulated by the surrounding county. Click here for more information on local stormwater management options and to follow the rollout of the new stormwater management regulations. Click here to learn about open Requests for Proposals and grant funds for the Stormwater Rollout.
In a natural Virginia woodland or meadow, very little rainfall runs off. During development, natural vegetation is usually removed and replaced with hard surfaces such as roads, buildings and parking areas. This land surface change decreases infiltration, groundwater recharge and evapotranspiration, and it increases runoff.
Stormwater runoff is water flowing overland into surface waters or that which is channeled into natural or man-made conveyance systems during and after rainfall or during snowmelt. Unmanaged stormwater can cause erosion and flooding. It can also carry excess nutrients, sediment and other contaminants into our waters. Properly managed stormwater protects our lands from erosion, properties from flooding, waters from pollutants, and ensures our general health, safety and welfare.
The Virginia Stormwater Management Program includes both erosion and sediment control as well as stormwater management. It was developed to protect citizens, property and natural resources from unmanaged stormwater runoff.
During construction, a permit may be required for erosion and sediment control. These land disturbance permits are issued by localities as part of their erosion and sediment control program. DCR also conducts reviews of local erosion and sediment control programs.
A stormwater permit may be required to discharge stormwater from a construction activity. Such a permit may also be required to discharge stormwater through a stormwater conveyance system owned or operated by a government entity. DCR administers these stormwater permits under Virginia Stormwater Management Program (VSMP) Permit Regulations, authorized by the Virginia Stormwater Management Act. As mandated by the Clean Water Act and the Code of Federal Regulations, federal permitting requirements have been incorporated into the VSMP permit regulations.
The Virginia stormwater act and VSMP permit regulations provide the ability to manage the quantity and quality of stormwater runoff on a construction site as well as on a regional or watershed basis.
Quantity of Stormwater Runoff – Compared with impervious surfaces, such as pavement or rooftops, pervious surfaces, such as meadows and woodlands, absorb and filter rainfall and reduce runoff. When meadows and woodlands are developed, the increase in impervious surfaces increases the amount of runoff that occurs when it rains. This increase in runoff can overwhelm waterways, causing erosion, localized flooding and property damage.
Quality of Stormwater Runoff - Pervious and impervious surfaces in urban areas collect pollutants, such as automobile oil, grease, sediment, bacteria from animal waste, excess nutrients and pesticides, and deposits from airborne pollutants. Stormwater runoff with high concentrations of these pollutants may enter nearby drinking water supplies and waterways when it rains.
Click here for a brochure and video entitled After the Storm, co-produced by the Weather Channel and EPA.
DCR provides localities and citizens technical assistance related to stormwater management. Click here for a document with contact information and service areas handled by DCR's central and field stormwater management staff.
To report a possible stormwater runoff violation, such as cloudy or dirty water, oil sheens, or dirt on public roads, from a construction site, first contact the locality wherein the construction is occurring. You may also contact the DCR regional office that serves your area.
The Virginia Stormwater Management Handbook is the primary guidance for basic hydrology and hydraulics, stormwater best management practice design and efficiency. Several associated technical bulletins not in the handbook are also available.
Economic Benefits of Protecting Virginia's Streams, Lakes and Watersheds - click here
Low Impact Development Order Form for Reining in the Storm: One Building at a Time (DVD format; 30-minutes) and Low Impact Development: A Tutorial and Toolkit (data CD that includes a presentation with audio and LID references, manuals, brochures, worksheets, code examples, etc.; produced by Friends of the Rappahannock, 2004)
Virginia Stormwater Management Law. Virginia Stormwater Management Regulations. Note that an official, unedited text of these SWM statutes can be accessed at the Division of Legislative Services website.
Virginia Stormwater Management Handbook, Volumes 1 and 2, First Edition, 1999 - Download options:
Order Form for hardcopy of the Virginia Stormwater Management Handbook, Volumes 1 and 2, First Edition, 1999.
Chapter 1 - Program overview
Chapter 2 - Stormwater and Urban BMPs
Chapter 3 - Minimum Standards - design specs, maintenance requirements, etc.
NOTE: the following downloads are the 14 subsections and Appendix that constitute Chapter 3.
3.01 Earthen Embankments
3.02 Principal Spillways
3.03 Vegetated Emergency Spillway
3.04 Sediment Forebay
3.06 Retention Basins
3.07 Extended Detention Basin
3.08 Detention Basin (to be provided later)
3.09 Constructed Wetlands
3.10 Infiltration Practices
3.12 Sand Filters
3.13 Grassed Swale
3.14 Vegetated Filter Strip
3.15 Manufactured BMP Systems
Chapter 3 Appendix (172K)
Chapter 4 - Hydrologic Methods
Chapter 5 - Engineering Calculations
Chapter 6 - Example Problems
Virginia Stormwater Management Program - Technical Bulletins
Technical Bulletin #1: Stream Channel Erosion Policy Guidance
Technical Bulletin #2: Hydrologic Modeling and Design in Karst
Technical Bulletin #3: Minimum Standard 3.10E - Plastic Chamber Systems
Technical Bulletin #4: Performance- and Technology-Based Water Quality Criterion
Technical Bulletin #6: Minimum Standard 3.11C - Filterra Bioretention Filter System
Technical Bulletin #7: Minimum Standard 3.02 - Principal Spillway Trash Racks
Technical Bulletin #8: Vector Control, Mosquitoes and Stormwater Management
Virginia Stormwater Management Program - Guidance Documents
Nonpoint Source Nutrient Offsets Guidance Document: Approved Nov. 2011
Engineers' Toolkit: Virginia Stormwater Management Program (VSMP) Permit Regulations (effective Jan. 29, 2005)
Questions about the Virginia Stormwater Management Program?
Just write SWMESquestions@dcr.virginia.gov.