Virginia Stormwater Management Program


Program OverviewSWM Program SupportHandbookPublications and Downloads |Construction and MS4 Permitting

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.

General Stormwater Information

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.

Program Overview

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 (PDF), authorized by the Virginia Stormwater Management Act(PDF). 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.

Stormwater Management Support

DCR provides localities and citizens technical assistance related to stormwater management. Click here (PDF) 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.

Virginia Stormwater Management Handbook

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.


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