New regulations for controlling runoff from rainstorms will go into effect in Fairfax County July 1, unless the General Assembly extends the state-mandated deadline.
The pollution controls limit the amount of water and the levels of certain pollutants that are allowed to run off of newly developed properties.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors adopted the updated ordinance on Tuesday, but some smaller localities throughout the state are having a harder time getting up to speed.
Most of the new regulations were mandated by the state, which must comply with federal Chesapeake Bay protection rules.
State officials are also shifting enforcement of the rules to local governments, so the county will begin conducting the state-mandated inspections and enforcement actions associated with water-quality controls.
“This is truly a huge change,” said Supervisor Penny Gross (D-Mason), chairwoman of the Environmental Committee. “Now the hard part comes … in figuring out how we are going to be enforcing this ordinance and treating it during reviews.”
Despite the complexity, Gross said the changes are in line with the county’s long-term environmental goals.
The biggest change is an increased focus on capturing and treating storm runoff more at its source, rather than in a big detention pond, using tools like green roofs and rain gardens.
The requirements apply only to new construction activities. County officials took care in ensuring that the new rules don’t make it overly burdensome for homeowners doing small projects, like putting an addition on a house.
While praising the county for its work on crafting the local ordinance, an area developer said the changes will affect the building industry,
“It is going to be a very difficult ordinance that adds complexity and makes development and redevelopment more expensive,” said Paul Johnson, a member of the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association Board of Directors.