Protecting Water Quality in Virginia: Recommendations to Combat Sea Level Rise and Increased Storm Events
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Protecting Water Quality in Virginia: Recommendations to Combat Sea Level Rise and Increased Storm Events

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    Virginia communities, specifically coastal communities, are susceptible to a myriad of negative effects from sea level rise and increased severe storm events. These events can compromise state water quality by inundating industrial and agricultural facilities and septic systems, resulting in contaminated water flowing into water bodies. Though the state regulates industrial facilities, agricultural facilities, and septic systems, none of these regulations were written with sea level rise and increasing storm events in mind. Therefore, changes in law and policy, as well as infrastructure are necessary to address these increasing threats. Virginia should regulate aboveground chemical storage tanks in much the same way aboveground oil and petroleum storage tanks are regulated. Additionally, small agricultural facilities that fall under the minimum threshold for regulation under the VPDES and VPA permitting programs should be required to fill out the self-assessment checklist. Finally, septic systems and stormwater collection and treatment facilities should also be upgraded to accommodate increasing sea levels and flooding triggered by storm events. While these efforts will not eliminate these threats, they can greatly improve Virginia’s resilience and help to protect the quality of state waters.
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