2014 Virginia DEQ Groundwater Management


Westmoreland County's inclusion in Virginia's DEQ Groundwater Management Area will seriously impact Public Water Supplies in the future.  While the goal of DEQ is to insure a viable source of safe drinking water for future generations, the cost will be substantial, with the possibility of test wells, restructuring of existing wells, and perhaps even the replacement of some productive wells. 

      A meeting with DEQ, Westmoreland County, and several other County Water Suppliers on 6/16, did not produce intervention by local legislators, as hoped, to ease the initial burden.  Although the meeting was very productive, it did not provide a promise of grandfathering to existing wells, nor did it provide any type of financial assistance.  To the contrary, it was pointed out, during the meeting, that the consumer will bear the financial burden of implementing new water conservation and protection measures, much as consumers in Western States and Florida, have borne the burden of protecting their future water supplies.  The most impressive aspect of the meeting was the demonstration of need and rationale for the new regulations.  Aquifers have dropped drastically over the years and with the lowered aquifers, there has been significant intrusion of seawater into eastern Virginia's aquifers, much the same as the entire State of Florida has experienced with its population boom.  Virginia's Coastal Zone represents only 29% of the state's land while 60% of the state's residents reside in the area.  Extreme usage of water resources has caused extreme decline in availability and will require extreme remediation measures.

      While PBE's facilities have been installed to meet Virginia Department of Health (VDH) Standards, the new Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) regulations are much more stringent with regard to water sources - the water aquifers from which water is drawn, and there is no provision for grandfathering at this time.  After the initial permitting process, wells will be inspected, tested, and viewed by underwater cameras and sensors at great expense to each water supplier.  Limitations may then be placed on the system until each well is brought up to DEQ's new standards.

      Our initial goal, in the permitting process, will be to stake a claim to existing water usage and to additionally claim as much water as the new regulations allow, from previous conservation efforts.  In order to accomplish this goal efficiently, PBE Water Supply has enlisted the services of a professional water consulting firm.  Our next step will be to implement measures which will provide for the future needs of the community.

      PBE Water's greatest asset, in working through the permitting process with DEQ, will be 35 years of water usage records, which show unwavering efforts at water conservation.  Conservation and accurate usage data, to meet DEQ requirements, will continue, as older meters are replaced with electronic leakage detection meters, which also meet 2014 SDWA standards.

      The new regulations will be a considerable challenge, however, after 50 years of supplying the water needs of Placid Bay Estates, PBE Water Supply is committed to work through the process laid out by our legislators and regulatory authorities, and to continue meeting the safe drinking water needs of the Community. 

      While an initial 3.8% DEQ impact fee was recently imposed to cover the permitting process, there will be substantial additional costs as DEQ imposes compliance measures based on their review of permit application data.  In order to provide for regulatory testing, well maintenance, consulting, and re-metering, there will be an additional 23% increase in rates effective 1 July 2014.  It is our hope that we will be able to properly stake claim to water rights, from DEQ, to maintain a good working relationship with DEQ as we have with VDH, and to obtain a good workable solution for Placid Bay Estates' present and future water needs.

      For more information visit:

 http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense/pubs/supply.html         http://va.water.usgs.gov/projects/va089.html