PROPOSED GROUNDWATER ORDINANCE & ASSESSMENT STANDARDS

ALBEMARLE COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS WORK SESSION – Oct 27, 2004

 

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS GROUNDWATER INFORMATION PACKET

  

 

MATERIALS IN THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS INFORMATION PACKET:

 

Proposed Amendments to Water Protection, Zoning & Subdivision Ordinance

Proposed ordinance language to implement the groundwater assessment program………………………………………………………………….………..………….…1

 

Groundwater Assessment Standards as Recommended by the Groundwater Committee & Planning Commission

The committee’s latest draft, incorporating revisions from the Roundtable review process………………………………………………….…………………………..….……....11

 

Executive Summary for Board’s Resolution of Intent and Worksession

The Board adopted the resolutions on September 3, 2003 and Worksession of July , 2004…………………..……………………………….….                                                         22

 

Groundwater Committee Context & Timeline

The Committee’s foundation in the Comp Plan, goals, and activities……………………27

 

Summary of Roundtable Meeting, Issues & Costs

This document reviews the roundtable meeting (Feb. 3, 2004), issues identified, the committee’s response to the issues, and projected costs to comply with the proposed standards…………………………………………………………………………………….…30

 


 

WATER PROTECTION ORDINANCE AMENDMENTS

ORDINANCE NO.  04-17(  )

 

AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND CHAPTER 17, WATER PROTECTION, OF THE CODE OF THE COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE, VIRGINIA, BY AMENDING ARTICLE I, GENERAL, AND BY ADDING ARTICLE IV, GROUNDWATER ASSESSMENTS

 

BE IT ORDAINED By the Board of Supervisors of the County of Albemarle, Virginia, that Chapter 17, Water Protection, is amended and reordained as follows:

 

By Amending:

 

Sec. 17-102            Purposes.

 

By Adding:

 

Sec. 17-400            Applicability.

Sec. 17-401            Tier 1 assessments.

Sec. 17-402            Tier 2 assessments.

Sec. 17-403            Tier 3 assessments.

Sec. 17-404            Tier 4 assessments.

Sec. 17-405            Fees.

               

Chapter 17

 

Water Protection

 

Article I.  General

 

Sec. B17-10217-102 Purposes.

 

                The board of supervisors finds that this chapter is necessary to protect the health, safety and general welfare of the citizens of the county and the Commonwealth of Virginia and to prevent water from being rendered dangerous to the health of persons living in the county, and is supported by the findings of watershed studies that have been conducted.  Therefore, the specific purposes of this chapter are to:

 

                1.             inhibit the deterioration of state waters and waterways resulting from land disturbing activities;

 

                2.             protect the safety and welfare of citizens, property owners, and businesses by minimizing the negative impacts of increased stormwater discharges from new land development and redevelopment;

 

                3.             protect against and minimize the pollution and eutrophication of public drinking water supplies resulting from land development;

 

                4.             control nonpoint source pollution, erosion and sedimentation, and stream channel erosion;

                5.             maintain the integrity of existing stream channels and networks for their biological functions, drainage, and natural recharge of groundwater;

 

                6.             protect the condition of state waters for all reasonable public uses and ecological functions;

 

                7.             provide for the long-term responsibility for and maintenance of stormwater management facilities and best management practices; and

 

                8.             facilitate the integration of stormwater management and pollution control with other county ordinances, programs, policies, and the comprehensive plan.; and

 

            9.         promote the long-term sustainability of groundwater resources. 

 

(§ 7-1, 6-18-75, § 2, 2-11-87, 3-18-92; § 19.1-4, 9-29-77, art. I, § 1, 7-11-90; § 19.2-2, 6-19-91, § 2; § 19.3-3, 2-11-98; Code 1988, §§ 7-1, 19.1-4, 19.2-2, 19.3-3; Ord. 98-A(1), 8-5-98)

 

                State law reference--Va. Code §§ 10.1-560 et seq., 10.1-603.1 et seq., §10.1-2108.E17-102

 

Article IV.  Groundwater Assessments

 

Sec. 17-400 Applicability.

 

This article shall apply to the establishment of land uses that will rely on privately owned wells serving as the primary source of potable water and having not more than two (2) connections (hereinafter, “individual wells”) or central water supplies, as defined in Albemarle County Code § 16-101.  The applicable requirements of this article are determined by the development approval sought by the owner and the land uses within the development, as follows:

 

Development Approval and Timing of Submittal for Required Assessment

Assessment Required

Prior to the issuance of a building permit for a new structure on a lot of record less than twenty-one acres in size existing prior to the effective date of this article that will be served by one or more individual wells

 

Tier 1

 

Prior to the issuance of a building permit for a new structure: (1) on a lot of record created after the effective date of this article that is subject to a Tier 2 or Tier 3 review that will be served by one or more individual wells; or (2) associated with a use that is subject to a Tier 3 or Tier 4 review that will be served by one or more individual wells

Tier 1

Prior to approval of a preliminary subdivision plat creating lots of less than twenty-one acres that will be served by individual wells

 

Tier 2

 

Prior to approval of a preliminary subdivision plat creating four or more lots where at least three lots are five acres or less

 

Tier 3

 

Prior to approval of a preliminary site plan for a new commercial or industrial use using less than 2,000 gallons/day (average)

 

Tier 3

 

Prior to approval of a preliminary site plan for a new commercial or industrial use using more than 2,000 gallons/day (average)

 

Tier 4

Prior to approval of any central water supply under chapter 16 of the Albemarle County Code

Tier 4

 

Sec. 17-401 Tier 1 assessments.

 

A Tier 1 assessment shall consist of the owner drilling a well on the lot and submitting the following information to the program authority: (1) a Virginia well drilling completion report (form GW-2) for each well drilled; and (2) the latitude and longitude coordinates of each well’s location.  The information submitted must be accepted as complete and accurate by the program authority prior to issuance of the building permit. 

 

Sec. 17-402 Tier 2 assessments.

 

A Tier 2 assessment shall consist of the program authority reviewing and evaluating the county’s well database, available hydrogeologic studies, and information from the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, as provided in chapter 5 of the design manual.  Based on this evaluation, the program authority may require that the owner provide additional groundwater assessment data prior to subdivision plat or site plan approval, or may require that a Tier 3 assessment be submitted. 

 

Sec. 17-403  Tier 3 assessments.

 

A Tier 3 assessment shall consist of the following:

 

                A.            The owner shall submit a draft groundwater management plan with the preliminary plat or site plan.  The groundwater management plan shall comply with the requirements for such plans in chapter 5 of the design manual.  If the groundwater management plan identifies special areas of concern, such as an off-site resource of high groundwater sensitivity or a previously unknown source of contamination, then the program authority may require additional groundwater assessment data prior to preliminary subdivision plat or site plan approval.

 

                B.            The owner shall submit a final groundwater management plan that must be approved by the program authority prior to approval of the final plat or site plan. 

 

C.            Any structural measures (e.g., best management practices) shall be bonded as a subdivision plat or site plan improvement.

 

Sec. 17-404  Tier 4 assessments.

 

A Tier 4 assessment shall consist of the following:

A.            The owner shall submit a draft groundwater management plan and an aquifer testing workplan complying with the requirements for such plans in chapter 5 of the design manual, with the preliminary plat, preliminary site plan, or the application for a central water supply.  The groundwater management plan must demonstrate to the program authority’s satisfaction that the site’s groundwater conditions have been considered with the subdivision or site plan’s layout and design.  The aquifer testing workplan must be approved by the program authority before the owner may conduct aquifer testing as required by subsection (B).

 

B.      After the program authority approves the aquifer testing workplan, the owner shall conduct aquifer testing as provided in the workplan.

 

C.            The owner shall submit a final groundwater management plan and a groundwater assessment report complying with the requirements for such a report in chapter 5 of the design manual, based upon the results of the aquifer testing.  The final groundwater management plan and the groundwater assessment report must be approved by the program authority prior to final subdivision plat or site plan approval. 

 

D.            Any structural measures (e.g., best management practices) shall be bonded as a subdivision plat or site plan improvement.

 

Sec. 17-405  Fees.

 

                Each owner seeking approval of a tier assessment required by this article shall pay a fee as provided by Albemarle County Code § 18-35.0 and Albemarle County Code § 14-203, as applicable.

 

                State law reference--Va. Code §§ 15.2-2241(9), 36-98.E17-209

 

 

 

ZONING AMENDMENTS

ORDINANCE NO. 04-18(   )

 

AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND CHAPTER 18, ZONING, ARTICLE IV, PROCEDURE, OF THE CODE OF THE COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE, VIRGINIA

 

BE IT ORDAINED By the Board of Supervisors of the County of Albemarle, Virginia, that Chapter 18, Zoning, Article IV, Procedure, are hereby amended and reordained as follows:

 

By Amending:

Sec. 31.2.2      Building permits

Sec. 35.0         Fees

 

By Adding:

Sec. 32.5.7      Groundwater assessment information

 

Chapter 18.  Zoning

 

Article IV.  Procedure

 

Sec. 31.2.2  Building permits

 

            The zoning administrator shall review each application for a building permit to ensure that the building or structure proposed is in accordance with the terms of this ordinance.  No permit shall be issued for any construction for which a site development plan is required to be approved by the commission in accordance with section 32.0 of this ordinance chapter unless and until such plan shall have been so approved.  Thereafter, any item shown on such plan as approved shall be deemed prima facie in accordance with the terms of this ordinance.

No permit shall be issued for any structure to be served by an individual well subject to a Tier 1 groundwater assessment under Albemarle County Code § 17-400 until the applicant complies with Albemarle County Code § 17-401. 

 

            Each applicant shall provide a copy of the most recent plat of record of the land to be built upon unless no such plat exists, in which case the applicant shall provide a copy of the most recent deed description thereof.

 

            Any other information which the zoning administrator may deem necessary for consideration of the application may be required. If the proposed building or use is in conformity with the provisions of this ordinance, a permit shall be issued to the applicant by the zoning administrator.  One (1) copy of the drawing shall be returned to the applicant with the permit.

 

Sec. 32.5.7      Groundwater assessment information

 

     The draft groundwater management plans and aquifer testing workplans required by Albemarle County Code §§ 17-403 and 17-404, as applicable, shall be submitted in conjunction with the submittal of the preliminary site plan.  The requirements of Albemarle County Code §§ 17-403 and 17-404 shall be satisfied prior to final site plan approval.

Sec. 35.0         Fees

 

Except as herein otherwise provided, every application made to the zoning administrator, the commission, or the board of supervisors shall be accompanied by a fee as set forth hereinafter, to defray the cost of processing such application.  Neither the County nor the School Board of Albemarle County shall be required to pay any fee required by this section if it is the applicant.

 

a.   For a special use permit:

 

1.   Rural area division for the purpose of "family division" where all original 1980 development rights have been exhausted under "family division" as defined under section 18-56 of the subdivision ordinance - $220.00.  (Amended effective 1-1-94)

2.   Rural area divisions - $1,240.00.

3.   Commercial use - $980.00.

4.   Industrial use - $1,020.00.

5.   Private club/recreational facility - $1,020.00.

6.   Mobile home park or subdivision - $980.00.

7.   Public utilities - $1,020.00.

8.   Grade/fill in the flood plain - $870.00.

                  9.   Minor amendment to valid special use permit or a special use permit to allow minor expansion of a non-conforming use -$110.00. (Amended effective 1-1-94)

10. Extending special use permits - $70.00.

11. Home Occupation-Class A - $13.00;

Home Occupation-Class B - $440.00.

12. For day care centers - six (6) to nine (9) children -

$490.00.  (Added 6-3-92)

13. For day care centers - ten (10) or more children - $980.00.  (Added 6-3-92)

14. All other uses except signs - $980.00.  (Amended 7-8- 92)

 

b.   For amendment to text of zoning ordinance - $840.00.

 

c.   Amendment to the zoning map:

 

1.   For planned developments - under 50 acres - $1,020.00.

2.   For planned developments - 50 or more acres - $1,570 .00.

3.   For all other zoning map amendments - under 50 acres - $1,020.00.

4.   For all other zoning map amendments - 50 or more acres - $1,570.00.

5.   Minor amendment to a zoning map amendment - $220.00.

 

d.   Board of Zoning Appeals:

 

1.   Request for a variance or sign special use permit - $120.00.  (Amended 7-8-92)

 

2.   For other appeals to the board of zoning appeals (including appeals of zoning administrator's decision) - $120.00, to be refunded if the decision of the zoning administrator is overturned.

 

e.   Preliminary site development plan:

 

1.   Residential - $1,190.00, plus $13.00/unit.

2.   Non-residential - $1,580.00, plus $13.00/1000 square feet.

 

f.    Final site development plan:

 

1.   Approved administratively - $410.00.

2.   If reviewed by the commission before approval of preliminary site development plan - $1,130.00.

3.   If reviewed by the commission after approval of the preliminary site development plan - $790.00.

4.   For site development plan waiver - $270.00.

5.   For site development plan amendment:

a)   Minor - alterations to parking, circulation, building size, location - $95.00.

b)   Major - commission review - $270.00.

6.   Review of site development plan by the architectural review board - $200.00.

7.   Appeal of site development plan to the board of super visors - $240.00.

8.   Rehearing of site development plan by commission or board of supervisors - $190.00.

9.   Rejection by agent of incomplete site development plan:

a)   Rejected within ten days - $200.00.

b)   Suspended after site plan review - site plan fee shall not be refunded.  $65.00 fee shall be required to reinstate project.

g.   For relief from a condition of approval from commission or landscape waiver by agent - $180.00.

h.   Change in road or development name after submittal of site development plan:

1.   Road - $20.00.

2.   Development - $25.00.

i.    Extending approval of site development plan - $45.00.

j.    Granting request to defer action on site development plan, special use permit or zoning map amendment:

1.   To a specific date - $35.00.

2.   Indefinitely - $75.00.

k.   Bond inspection for site development plan, for each inspection after the first bond estimate - $60.00.

l.    Zoning clearance - $35.00.

m.  Accessory lodging permits - $35.00.

n.   Official Letters:

1.   Of determination - $75.00.

2.   Of compliance with county ordinances- $75.00.

3.   Stating number of development rights - $40.00.

 

o.   Sign Permits:

1.   Any sign, except exempted signs and signs requiring review by the architectural review board - $35.00.

2.   Signs required to be reviewed by the architectural review board - $75.00.

 

            p.  Groundwater assessment information required by sections 31.2.2 or 32.5.7:

                 

                  1.   Tier 1 assessment under Albemarle County Code § 17-401 – $50.00. 

 

                  2.   Tier 3 assessment under Albemarle County Code § 17-403 –  $400.00 plus $25.00                 per lot.

                 

                  3.   Tier 4 assessment under Albemarle County Code § 17-404 – $1,000.00.        

 

In addition to the foregoing, the actual costs of any notice required under Chapter 22, Title 15.2 of the Code shall be charged to the applicant, to the extent that the same shall exceed the applicable fee set forth in this section.  Failure to pay all applicable fees shall constitute grounds for the denial of any application.  For any application withdrawn after public notice has been given, no part of the fee will be refunded. (Amended 5- 5-82; 9-1-85; 7-1-87; 6-7-89; 12-11-91 to be effective 4-1-92; 7- 8-92)

 

(§ 35.0, 12-10-80; 5-5-82; 9-1-85; 7-1-87; 6-7-89; 12-11-91 to be effective 4-1-92; 7- 8-92; * to be effective 1-1-94; Ord. 02-18(4), 7-3-02)

 

 

SUBDIVISION ORDINANCE AMENDMENTS

ORDINANCE NO. 04-14(  )

 

AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND ARTICLE II, ADMINISTRATION AND PROCEDURE, AND ARTICLE III, PLAT REQUIREMENTS AND DOCUMENTS TO BE SUBMITTED, OF CHAPTER 14, SUBDIVISION OF LAND, OF THE CODE OF THE COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE, VIRGINIA

 

BE IT ORDAINED By the Board of Supervisors of the County of Albemarle, Virginia, that Article II, Administration and Procedure, and Article III, Plat Requirements and Documents to be Submitted, of Chapter 14, Subdivision of Land, are hereby amended and reordained as follows:

 

By Amending:

 

Sec. 14-203     Fees.

 

By Adding:

 

14-308.1.         Groundwater assessment information.

 

Chapter 14

 

Subdivision of Land

 

Article II.  Administration and Procedure

 

Sec. 14-203 Fees.

 

            Except as otherwise provided herein, each subdivider shall pay a fee upon submittal of a plat or other request provided herein, in an amount according to the schedule set forth below.  The fee shall be in the form of cash or a check payable to the "County of Albemarle."  Neither the County nor the School Board of Albemarle County shall be required to pay any fee required by this section if it is the applicant. 

 

            A.        Preliminary plat for subdivision:  

 

                        1.         If subject to review by the commission:

                                    (a)        1 to 9 lots: $720.00.

                                    (b)        10 to 19 lots: $1,100.00.

                                    (c)        20 or more lots: $1,330.00.

                        2.         If subject to review by the agent:

                                    (a)        Two-lot subdivision as described in section 14-232(B)(1) or if all lots front on an existing public street: $95.00.                           

                                    (b)        1 to 9 lots: $360.00.

                                    (c)        10 to 19 lots: $550.00.

                                    (d)        20 or more lots: $670.00.

 

                        3.         Reinstatement of review: $65.00.

            4.         Each filing of a preliminary plat, whether or not a preliminary plat for the same property has been filed previously, shall be subject to the same requirements.

 

B.         Final plat for subdivision:

1.         If subject to review by the commission:

                                    (a)        1 to 9 lots: $720.00.

                                    (b)        10 to 19 lots: $1,100.00.

                                    (c)        20 or more lots: $1,330.00.

2.         If subject to review by the agent:

                                    (a)        Two-lot subdivision as described in section 14-232(B)(1) or if all lots front on an existing public street: $95.00.                           

                                    (b)        1 to 9 lots: $360.00.

                                    (c)        10 to 19 lots: $550.00.

                                    (d)        20 or more lots: $670.00.

3.         Condominium plat: $100.00.

                        4.         Reinstatement of review: $65.00.

5.         In addition to the foregoing, if the subdivider is required to construct a public street or a private road, he shall pay to the county a fee equal to the cost of the inspection of the construction of any such street or road.  These fees shall be paid prior to completion of all necessary inspections and shall be deemed a part of the cost of construction of the street or road for purposes of section 14-413(B).

 

            C.        Plat for rural division: $95.00.

 

            D.        Plat for family division: $95.00.

 

E.         Other matters subject to review:

1.         Waiver, variation or substitution of subdivision requirements:  $180.00.

2.         Relief from plat conditions imposed by commission prior to the date of adoption of this chapter: $180.00.

3.         Appeal of plat to board of supervisors: $240.00.

4.         Extension of plat approval: $45.00.

5.         Request to defer action on plat to an indefinite date: $75.00.

6.         Bonding inspection for plat: $60.00.

                          7.         Vacation of plat or part thereof: $170.00.

 

                          8.         Groundwater assessment information required by section 14-308.1:

                                      (a)      Tier 2 assessment under section 17-402: $250.00 plus $25.00 per                                                        lot.

                                      (b)      Tier 3 assessment under section 17-403: $400.00 plus $25.00 per                                                        lot.

                                      (c)      Tier 4 assessment under section 17-404: $1,000.00.    

 

(9-5-96, 12-11-91, 6-7-89, 4-17-85, 12-1-82, 12-14-77, 3-2-77, 11-10-76, 8-28-74 (§ 3); 1988 Code, § 18-43; Ord. 98-A(1), 7-15-98; Ord. 99-14(1), 6-16-99; Ord. 02-14(2), 7-3-02)

 

                State law reference--Va. Code § 15.2-2241(9).

 

Article III.  Plat Requirements and Documents to be Submitted

 

Sec. 14-308.1   Groundwater assessment information.

 

            Groundwater assessments required by section 17-402 shall begin in conjunction with the submittal of the preliminary plat.  The draft groundwater management plans and acquifer testing workplans required by sections 17-403 and 17-404, as applicable, shall be submitted in conjunction with the submittal of the preliminary plat.  The requirements of sections 17-402, 17-403 and 17-404 shall be satisfied prior to final plat approval.

 

            State law referenceVa. Code § 15.2-2121.

 

 

Albemarle County Groundwater Assessment Standards, as recommended by the Groundwater Committee & Planning Commission, June 1, 2004

 

Introduction

 

The purpose of the Groundwater Assessment Standards is to establish protocols for proposed land uses to develop designs, plans, and monitoring to promote the long-term sustainability of groundwater resources.  For this purpose, long-term sustainability means that adequate groundwater quantity and quality exists to meet the long-term needs of the proposed use without negatively impacting the quality or quantity of neighboring groundwater users.  Furthermore, through design and management practices, a site can provide for its long-term water needs without resort to public water line extensions, which are costly and contrary to the County's Comprehensive Plan. 

 

To achieve these purposes, the application of the standards is intended to result in better information to make decisions.  These include various decisions at different scales, including:

·        Potential purchasers of property to determine if an adequate water supply exists,

·        Developers and landowners who intend to create new divisions to understand the constraints and opportunities of the groundwater resource,

·        Designers of new divisions to match design and layout to groundwater characteristics, and

·        The County to manage, monitor, and continue to build the big-picture understanding of groundwater resources to make wise land use decisions.

 

While the information generated from the assessment standards will not guarantee the long-term productivity and/or potable water for every well, the reports will represent an effort to perform a reasonable level of diligence by evaluating the sustainability of the local groundwater supply.  The standards place responsibility on applicants for various County approvals to conduct some level of groundwater assessment prior to development.  The County’s responsibilities and roles with this program are to maintain all relevant base maps and data bases (e.g., groundwater sensitivity areas, well data base, etc.), manage the groundwater monitoring network, and conduct basin-scale or regional groundwater studies, as funded by the Board of Supervisors, to further understand groundwater in order to make better land use decisions.

 

The groundwater assessment standards are based on a tiered approach, whereby analysis, reporting, and testing requirements are based on the nature of the proposed land use activity:

 

·        Whether the application is for a new division or site plan, or simply construction of a new structure.

·        The size and/or number of lots of a proposed division, and whether the use is residential or commercial.

 

The various tier levels of groundwater assessment are outlined in Table 1.

 
 

Table 1: Development Criteria with Assigned Tier Rating

Criteria

Tier Rating

Building Permit for New Structure on a lot less than 21 acres

Tier 1: drill well prior to BP

 

Creation  of any development right lot (<21 acres)

Tier 2: County staff review

 

Creation of 4 or more lots where at least 3 lots are 5 acres or less

Tier 3: groundwater management plan (Level B)

 

Commercial or industrial use using less than 2,000 gallons/day (average)

Tier 3: groundwater management plan (see Section 3 for appropriate level)

Commercial or industrial use using more than 2,000 gallons/day (average)

Tier 4: groundwater management plan + testing

Approval of any “central water supply,” as defined by Chapter 16 of the County Code

Tier 4: groundwater management plan + testing

 

 

 

1.0  Tier 1  Requirements – Drill Well Prior to Issuance of Building Permit

 

Tier 1 does not pertain to new divisions, but to building permits for new structures.    For these permits, wells will be drilled prior to issuance of a building permit.  Tier 1 requirements apply regardless of whether a Tier 2, 3, or 4 assessment is also performed.

 

The following items will be included with each Tier 1 submittal.

 

·  A Virginia well drilling completion report (GW-2 report form) for each well drilled 

 

            ·  The latitude and longitude coordinates of the well’s location

 

 

2.0  Tier 2 Requirements – County Staff Review of Groundwater Conditions

 

For a Tier 2 review, county staff will evaluate the submitted preliminary subdivision plat or site plan by referring to the county’s well database, available hydrogeologic studies, and information from the State Health Department and Department of Environmental Quality.  Tier 2 evaluators will review and evaluate:

 

·  Density of the proposed development and the density of adjacent development; including the number of identified wells and drainfields within 1000 feet of the site boundary.

           

            ·  Inventory of known contaminant threats to potential recharge areas.

 

·  Inventory of mapped potential contaminant sources, including leaking underground and aboveground storage tanks as identified by DEQ, within 1000 feet of the site boundary.

 

·  Proximity to sensitive water resources including public water supply wells and public surface water reservoirs.

 

Based on the findings of the Tier 2 review, additional groundwater assessment data may be required from the applicant prior to plat approval, or a Tier 3 assessment may be required.  If a Tier 3 assessment is not required, all wells must be drilled prior to issuance of a building permit and meet the reporting requirements for Tier 1.  County staff shall provide the applicant with educational materials relevant to the protection of groundwater during and after construction.

 

 

3.0  Tier 3 Requirements – Groundwater Management Plan

 

The Tier 3 Groundwater Assessment is a two-step process:

 

1.      The applicant submits a draft groundwater management plan with the preliminary plat or site plan.  The plan and plat must demonstrate that the site’s groundwater conditions have been considered with the division’s layout and design.

2.      A final groundwater management plan that incorporates County staff comments from the preliminary stage is submitted and must be approved prior to approval of the final plat or site plan.  In cases where the groundwater management plan identifies special areas of concern, such as an off-site resource of high sensitivity or a previously unknown source of contamination, then County staff may require additional groundwater assessment data, or that the applicant complete a Tier 4 assessment prior to plat or plan approval.

 

Development of the Groundwater Management Plan

 

The Groundwater Management Plan shall include Graphic and Narrative sections, as outlined below.  There are two levels of the groundwater management plan:

 

·        Level A is a relatively simple plan.  County staff may allow a Level A plan for commercial/industrial uses that use less than 500 gallons/day (average) and for which the property use and contaminant threat inventories (described below) do not reveal any issues of concern.

·        Level B is more detailed for divisions that create 4 or more lots.  Except as described above, all commercial and industrial uses that are subject to the Tier 3 or 4 requirement shall complete a Level B plan. 

 

 

3.1.  Tier 3 Graphic Section

 

Map or series of maps at appropriate scale showing the following:

 

Level A Plan

·        Surface water drainage features including drainage divides

·        Topography

·        Planimetric features

·        Proposed development layout and approximate land disturbance

·        Groundwater availability zone from the County study

·        Whether the proposed land use is within an area of recognized groundwater sensitivity, based on the most recent County hydrogeologic study or data base. 

·        For projects with private, individual wells, a property use inventory within 1000 feet of site boundary to include known septic and well locations from County and other agency sources.  For projects with any VDH-defined public water supply, the property use inventory shall extend 1 mile from the site boundary.

·        For projects with private, individual wells, known potential sources of contamination within 1000 feet of the property boundary from County studies, VDH, DEQ, other agency files, and/or field investigation. .  For projects with any VDH-defined public water supply, the contaminant source inventory shall extend 1 mile from the site boundary.  This procedure may be updated from time to time in accordance with revised VDH methodologies for source water assessments.

 

Level B Plan

 

The Level B Plan shall include all of the elements of a Level A Plan in addition to the following:

·        Mapped geologic contacts and/or structural features, including any identified linear features or fracture traces.   The map shall also identify generalized geologic or hydrogeologic zones on the property based on soils, geology, topography, and other site features.

·        Estimated groundwater flow patterns

·        Locations for any County-operated long-term monitoring wells in addition to well and access easements dedicated to public use.

 

3.2.   Tier 3 Narrative Section

 

The narrative section shall be a report with the following elements:

 

Level A Plan

·        Identify any contaminant threats (septic drainfields, underground storage tanks, confined animal feeding operations, etc.) within 1000 feet from the property boundary based on an analysis of agency records.

·        Describe “Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Groundwater” (see below in subsection 3.3) to be employed at the site.  For a Level A plan, these will focus on education and outreach and preserving or restoring trees and forest cover to promote recharge.

·        If the project is within an area of recognized groundwater sensitivity according to a County study or data base, then the BMPs should address how this sensitivity will be recognized and/or managed.  Groundwater sensitivity may be a product of source value (the site is in close proximity to an important resource, such as a drinking water reservoir or a neighboring community’s central well system) or a contaminant threat (the site is in close proximity to potential source of contamination, such as a leaking underground storage tank).   The purpose of identifying these areas of sensitivity is for the proposed land use to incorporate educational, design, and management principles to avoid becoming either a source or target of a groundwater quality and/or quantity problem.

·        For commercial or industrial uses, identify any land use activities that have the potential to contaminate groundwater, and any best management practices to be used to mitigate the risk.  These land use activities include, but are not limited to, storage, use, or discharge of toxic or hazardous materials; commercial-level application of fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides; operation of any private sewage facility or pump station; fueling areas and storage tanks; facilities to handle grease or any special wastes; and any other discharge to land, air, or water.  The plan shall also document that these activities are conducted in compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local ordinances and permits (for example, RCRA, DEQ discharge permits, VDH regulations, EPA underground injection permits, and/or a certified engineer report in accordance with Section 4.14.8 of the Zoning Ordinance).

·        If the site also requires a stormwater management/BMP plan in accordance with the Water Protection Ordinance (WPO), then, to the extent feasible, the groundwater BMPs and management plan can be incorporated into the stormwater plan.  This would be especially relevant for the use of “non-structural measures” as outlined in Section 17-313 of the WPO.

 

Level B Plan

 

The Level B Plan shall include all of the narrative elements for a Level A Plan in addition to the following:

·        Identify the groundwater availability zone(s) the site is within and how actual site conditions may conform to or vary from that zone’s characteristics.

·        In addition to any contaminant threats identified from agency records, confirm and identify any additional threats (underground storage tanks, confined animal feeding operations, etc.) within 1000 feet from the property boundary based on field reconnaissance.

·        Review of existing hydrogeologic information from County studies, the County well database, aerial photographs, topography, geologic maps, soil maps, and other available information.

·        Summary of geologic and hydrogeologic conditions based on data analyses and a field survey of the property by a qualified professional (Virginia Certified Professional Geologist).  Locations and orientations of identified fractures, joints, and any linear features/fracture traces shall be recorded.  Land cover and saprolite characteristics shall also be assessed (well casing lengths from the County well database can be used to approximate saprolite depths).

·        Describe “Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Groundwater” in addition to those highlighted for a Level A Plan to be employed at the site, including additional measures to be employed if the site or part of the site is within an area of recognized groundwater sensitivity.  The BMP section shall describe how the site design, layout, and grading reflect groundwater opportunities and constraints.  For instance, the plan may show how land disturbance is avoided in areas that are likely to have value for recharge, how drainfields and reserve drainfields take advantage of the best possible soils on the site for wastewater treatment, how wells can take advantage of areas likely to provide the most sustainable yields, how identified potential contaminant threats are addressed through well construction standards, and/or how septic system design and technology address resources of high sensitivity close to the site (e.g., existing community water supply).

·        Locations and easements for County-operated long-term monitoring wells shall be established with the subdivision plat or site plan in accordance with a County monitoring plan, or in accordance with a general plan to have one monitoring well for every subdivision subject to the Tier 3 requirement.  Monitoring well locations and easements shall be established in coordination with County staff.  County staff may waive the need for a monitoring well location for any given development based on an overall monitoring plan.

·        Identify areas for reserve well fields, which may include common area or open space, and legal provisions for lot owners to utilize the reserve well field area(s).

 

3.3.  Best Management Practices for Groundwater

 

Best Management Practices (BMPs) for groundwater describe a menu of practices pertaining to design, construction, management, and education and outreach to promote a sustainable approach to groundwater.  It is not anticipated that every development project will incorporate all of the practices.  Each project should evaluate the practices and adopt those that make sense for the site and promote sustainable groundwater use.  These practices are provided in outline form below. 

 

·        Site Design & House Construction: Locating houses and septic drainfields in a way that does not interfere with or enhances groundwater recharge.  Preserving trees and forest cover to promote recharge.  Using Rural Preservation or other cluster mechanisms to preserve recharge areas (preferably in easement) and groundwater quality.  House designs incorporate water conservation measures.

 

·        Landscape & Land Cover: Preserving and restoring trees and forest cover during and after construction, especially in areas likely to be important for recharge.  Planting drought-resistant landscaping to reduce outdoor watering. Promote backyard habitat programs that can also help recharge. 

 

·        Testing & Research: Develop an observation well network with data measurement and recording schedule to monitor groundwater levels (in conjunction with County program). Provide periodic well water testing programs for homeowners and residents. 

 

·        Education & Outreach: Distribute educational materials for homeowners on the value and use of groundwater, pollution prevention, and water conservation.

 

·        Water Use, Reuse, Recycling: Consider water recycling in subdivision plans.  Provide technical assistance for water recycling, gray-water reuse, and retrofitting fixtures to conserve water.  Store rainwater for watering landscaping and gardens.  In some cases, construct ponds for outdoor water uses.  Reduce “stress” on groundwater uses from wells.

4.0    Tier 4 Requirements – Groundwater Management Plan & Aquifer Testing

 

The Tier 4 groundwater assessment involves a three-step process:

 

1.      The applicant submits a draft groundwater management plan and aquifer testing workplan with the preliminary plat or site plan.  The plan must demonstrate that the site’s groundwater conditions have been considered with the division’s layout and design.  The testing workplan must be approved by the County prior to the applicant proceeding with step 2.

2.      Aquifer testing as per the approved workplan (Section 5), and

3.      A final groundwater management plan that incorporates County staff comments from the preliminary stage as well as a Groundwater Assessment Report (Section 6) based on the testing results is submitted and must be approved prior to approval of the final plat or site plan.

 

Development of the Groundwater Management Plan

 

The Groundwater Management Plan shall conform to the standards listed in Section 3 for Tier 3 assessments, including the Graphic Section (section 3.1), Narrative Section (section 3.2), and Best Management Practices for Groundwater (section 3.3).

 

4.1. Tier 4 Well Drilling and Assessment

 

The draft Groundwater Management Plan shall be submitted with an aquifer testing work plan to County Engineering staff for review and approval prior to aquifer testing.  Based on identified contaminant source threats, specific water quality analyses may be required by County staff.  The work plan will be based on Section 5.0 Aquifer Testing Guidelines and will include the following information.

 

· Proposed location of test well/s and observation wells

· Proposed testing methodology

· Proposed monitoring program

 

The information in Sections 4.2 and 4.3 provide general guidelines for aquifer testing.  Actual testing procedures, as outlined in the aquifer testing workplan, should be customized to actual site conditions, based on the best judgment of a competent professional in consultation with County staff.  For example, the workplan can take advantage of existing wells (to be used for testing or monitoring) or existing field data already generated for the site.  County staff may request additional testing sites or allow deviation from the general testing criteria based on site conditions.

 

4.2.  Tier 4 Testing Criteria for Central Water Systems

 

a) For central water systems, the developer will complete wells and aquifer testing as outlined within the approved aquifer testing work plan.  Aquifer testing will be performed to evaluate; aquifer characteristics, sustainable yield, the potential for offsite hydrologic impacts (including baseflow to local streams), and potential contaminant impacts from onsite or offsite sources.  Groundwater quality testing will be performed as per Virginia Department of Health Standards for community water supplies.  For each test well, the test shall consist of a minimum 72-hour pumping test.   Each test shall include a minimum of two observation wells for each test well.  The frequency of water level measurements within the observation wells shall be in accordance with ASTM D 4050 guidelines.   A typical measurement frequency is shown in Table 3.

 

The monitoring program shall include a minimum of 72 hours of monitoring data from each observation well and test well prior to the test, and a minimum of 72 hours of monitoring data from each observation well and test well after pumping has stopped, or until 90% recovery is achieved, which ever is greater.

 

4.3.  Tier 4 Testing Criteria for Commercial or Industrial Wells

 

a) For commercial or industrial wells subject to Tier 4 requirements.. The developer will complete wells and aquifer testing as outlined within the approved aquifer testing work plan.  Aquifer testing will be performed to evaluate; aquifer characteristics, sustainable yield, the potential for offsite hydrologic impacts (including baseflow to local streams), and potential contaminant impacts from onsite or offsite sources.   Groundwater quality testing will be performed as per Virginia Department of Health Standards for any public water supplies.  For each test well, the test shall consist of a minimum 48-hour pumping test.   Each test shall include a minimum of two observation wells for each test well.  The frequency of water level measurements within the observation wells shall be in accordance with ASTM D 4050 guidelines.   A typical measurement frequency is shown in Table 3.

 

The monitoring program shall include a minimum of 48 hours of monitoring data from each observation well and test well prior to the test, and a minimum of 48 hours of monitoring data from each observation well and test well after the test, or until 90% recovery is achieved, whichever is greater.

 

 

5.0  Aquifer Testing Guidelines

 

5.1.  Test wells

 

For each test well, a minimum of two (2) observations wells will be required.  Existing wells may be monitored as observation wells if their construction is adequate and their location lies within a distance from the test well that is reasonable to expect the possibility of measurable impacts from the pumping test.  The location of the test wells and observation wells shall be proposed by the applicant and approved by County staff.

 

5.2.  Method and Rate

 

Each test shall employ the down-hole method of pumping and be at a continuous and constant rate.  A pumping rate will be used that reasonably stresses the aquifer but does not result in excessive drawdown.   The selected pumping rate shall not vary by more than 10% during the test.  Pump tests utilizing the constant drawdown method with continuous flow measurements may also be considered appropriate.  In all cases, discharge water shall be conveyed to a downgradient swale or drainage a sufficient distance (minimum 200 feet) from the pumping and observation wells to minimize the potential for recharge to the aquifer that could affect the test result. An attempt should be made to schedule aquifer testing to avoid recent or upcoming recharge events.

 

5.3.  Duration

 

Pumping shall be continuous for not less than either 48-hours or 72-hours, as stipulated within the specific Tier 4 assessment standard.  Immediately upon completion of pumping, the recovery phase of the test shall begin and continue for a period equal to the duration of the pumping, or until the water level in each well recovers to within 90% of the pre-pumping level, whichever is greater. 

 

5.4.  Monitoring

 

The rate of discharge from each pumping well will be measured at a frequency in accordance with ASTM D 4050 guidelines.  A typical measurement frequency is shown in Table 2.  Water levels in the pumping and observation wells shall be monitored during the pumping phase and recovery phase of the test.  The frequency of water level drawdown and recovery measurements shall be in accordance with ASTM D 4050 guidelines.  A typical measurement frequency is shown in Table 2.  Pre-test monitoring shall, at a minimum, begin for a period equal to the duration of the test prior to pumping.  

 

 

6.0  Groundwater Assessment Report

 

A Groundwater Assessment Report will be prepared for submittal to the County as part of the site’s Groundwater Management Plan for projects subject to Tier 4 requirements.  The report must be sealed by a Virginia Certified Professional Geologist or Professional Engineer and will include the following components:

 

a) Background Section

This section will include a brief summary of the proposed site use and include reference to the groundwater management plan as well as the aquifer testing work plan.

 

b) Geologic Log and Well Construction Diagram

For each well completed, a geologic log shall be completed and sealed by a Virginia Certified Professional Geologist.   The log should include a description of the nature, condition, and depth of distinct water bearing zones and measured contribution per zone.  The log will also provide lithologic description, and measurements of overburden thickness and final blown yield.  A well construction diagram that provides vertical scale showing well identification, date of construction, well location coordinates, total depth, well casing depth, and grout depth shall also be included.  A Virginia Water Well Completion Report (form GW-2) shall also be completed for each well.

 

c) Hydrogeologic Cross Section

The report shall contain one or more cross sections, at true horizontal scale and vertical scale exaggerated as appropriate. The location of each cross section shall be shown on a plan view map and the cross-section shall contain the following information.

1)      Geologic description including regolith, bedrock, and identified structural features, if present.

2)      Well site locations showing well casings and total depths

3)   Relative elevation of ground surface, rock formations, and static water level  surfaces.         

 

d) Groundwater Flow Direction Map

A groundwater flow direction map shall be prepared that includes the site boundary, control data points, and groundwater relative elevation contours with flow direction.  Determining the groundwater flow direction map will require a degree of estimation due to a lack of data control points.  The map shall reference well gauging calculations and indicate the date of well gauging.

 

e) Well Testing Summary

The well testing summary should reference a site map with test well and observation well locations, and shall include, at a minimum, the following:

 

1)      Date of aquifer test for each well

2)      Duration of pumping

3)      Pumping rate

4)      Maximum observed water level drawdown

 

f) Aquifer Test Analyses

The transmissivity and storativity of the bedrock aquifer shall be evaluated by aquifer tests interpreted using professionally accepted analytical methods.  Indicate the analytical method used, the appropriateness of the selected method relative to the hydrogeologic conditions, and include a summary of the calculations.  Drawdown and analysis plots shall also be provided, along with raw data.

 

g) Suitability and Sustainable Yield

This section shall include an assessment of the suitability of the proposed use based on existing conditions and results generated from aquifer testing.  The section shall include a discussion of:

·        Potential for impacts to the local hydrologic system, especially to high sensitivity resources, such as an existing community well system.   Potential impacts to the baseflow of local streams shall also be addressed.

·        Potential for impacts to water quality based on aquifer characteristics, especially to high sensitivity resources, such as a drinking water reservoir.

·        Potential for impacts to the site from identified contaminant threats, such as leaking underground storage tanks or existing clusters of septic drainfields.

·        A sustainable yield of at least one gallon per minute per connection shall be documented. 

·        Applicable calculations and references, as well as assumptions and limitations of the methods used. 

 

h) Contingency Plan

A contingency plan for actions to be employed if wells experience unanticipated interference or become contaminated shall be provided.   This plan may include a designated contingency well field area.

 

Table 3

 Typical Measurement Frequency*

Frequency, One Measurement Every:

Elapsed Time, For the First:

30 seconds

3 minutes

1 minutes

3 to 15 minutes

5 minutes

15 to 60 minutes

10 minutes

60 to 120 minutes

20 minutes

2 to 3 hours

1 hour

3 to 15 hours

5 hours

15 to 72 hours

*References Table 1 of ASTM D 4050 for Measurement Frequency

Standard Test Method (field procedure) for Withdrawal and Injection Well Tests for Determining Hydraulic Properties of Aquifer Systems

 

7.0  County-Operated Groundwater Monitoring Wells

 

As stated in subsection 3.2, certain development projects will dedicate a location and easements for the County to establish a long-term monitoring well.  Additional County planning will be needed to develop an overall monitoring strategy, and, initially, the emphasis will be on securing the necessary easements so that strategically located wells can be drilled by the County in the future.  The general goal is for monitoring wells to be sited in order to provide representation across the County’s hydrogeologic zones (or generalized groundwater availability zones) and areas of recognized groundwater sensitivity from County or other relevant studies and data bases.  Wells will be designed to collect both water quality and water quantity (water level) data.   

 

For specific site locations, the wells should be, to the extent practical, in locations that represent the surrounding land uses and hydrogeologic settings.  Each well and all associated easements shall be entered into a GIS and data base for the purposes of tracking and reporting.

 

Monitoring wells should be constructed as open borehole bedrock wells and should be cased into competent rock.  The preferred method of well completion will be open borehole.  However, if the open borehole is subject to cave in, the well will be completed as a screened and cased sand-packed well.  Typical construction details for an open borehole bedrock monitor well can be located in the U.S. EPA Monitor Well Installation SOP# 2048.  Where monitoring of the overburden aquifer is deemed necessary to evaluate potential impacts to surface water bodies or shallow bored wells, screened and cased sand-packed monitor wells will be constructed.  All monitor wells will be constructed in compliance with local Health Department requirements.

 

The construction and monitoring costs for the long-term monitoring program shall be funded through appropriate fees attached to building permits for new structures issued in the Rural Areas.

 

COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

 

AGENDA TITLE:

Work Session on the Groundwater Committee’s Recommendations and Resolution of Intent to Amend the Subdivision and Zoning Ordinances

 

 

SUBJECT/PROPOSAL/REQUEST:

Adopt of Resolution of Intent to go to a public hearing to amend the Subdivision and Zoning ordinances to incorporate groundwater assessments

 

 

STAFF CONTACT(S):

Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Graham, Hirschman

 

AGENDA DATE:                 ITEM NUMBER:

September 3, 2003

 

ACTION:   X                          INFORMATION:

 

 

CONSENT AGENDA:         

     ACTION:                           INFORMATION:

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:  

Groundwater Committee’s Proposed

Groundwater Assessment Standards, Resolution

of Intent for ZTA, Resolution of Intent for STA

 

REVIEWED BY:

 

 

BACKGROUND:

 

At their meeting on August 7, 2002, the Board directed Staff to proceed with an accelerated implementation schedule for the groundwater assessment program.  This program is based on recommendations in the groundwater committee report, Underground Albemarle, and also on Planning Commission work sessions held on December 18,  2001, January 22, 2002, and March 5, 2002.  The adoption of the program was contingent on completion of the following tasks:

 

1.       County-wide groundwater availability and sensitivity study by ENSAT Corporation.

2.       The Groundwater Committee’s recommended technical guidance for conducting site-level groundwater assessments (e.g., prior to building permit and subdivision plat approval).  This is intended to become a chapter in Design Standards Manual (DSM).

3.       Ordinance language to implement the program, as outlined in #2 above.

 

Tasks #1 and #2 are substantially complete, and the County Attorney’s Office is working on task #3.

 

 

DISCUSSION:

 

The proposed groundwater assessment standards are a product of the following activities:

·         Many hours of deliberation by the groundwater committee, including 10 meetings, a field trip to Loudoun County, and a pilot groundwater assessment supported by the Kessler Group.

·         Three Planning Commission work sessions and two Board information sessions based on the committee’s interim report, Underground Albemarle, released in October, 2001.

·         Phase 1 and 2 County groundwater studies conducted by ENSAT Corporation to produce County-wide information on groundwater availability and sensitivity.  This information is at a broad scale and not intended to draw site-specific conclusions.

·         Chapter Two of the Comprehensive Plan, adopted in 1999, established the framework and policy direction for the groundwater committee.

 

The proposed standards are a fusion of all of these past efforts.  The attached program context and timeline provides more detail on the evolution of the committee’s work.

 

The committee was established as a technical committee (see BOS, 5/3/2000), and has strived to create standards with a firm scientific foundation.  There are many technical complexities to understanding groundwater, and few off-the-shelf methodologies to accomplish the committee’s objectives.  Given this, the committee’s desire is for the standards to lead to better information to make decisions at all levels, from site design to County land use policy.  The committee also views the adoption of these standards as the beginning of a program that will evolve as groundwater data is collected and analyzed. 

 

This program will create a loop in the County’s development approval process to gather groundwater information so that development layout and management account for a site’s groundwater characteristics.  It should be understood that the program will also introduce procedural, timeline, and cost changes into the existing process for approving building permits and subdivision plats.

 

The building permit changes (wells must be drilled prior to issuance of a building permit) require amendment to the Zoning Ordinance.  The plat approval changes (a groundwater assessment is required prior to plat approval) require amendment of the Subdivision Ordinance.  If the Board adopts a resolution of intent to amend these ordinance, then staff will schedule a stakeholder review process (e.g., focus group) and a work session with the Planning Commission prior to coming back to the Board for a public hearing.

 

BUDGET IMPACTS:

 

Implementation of this program will require additional staffing.  As part of the FY '04 budget, the County Board funded the position of Groundwater Program Manager.  This position has an initial cost of $117,695 budgeted for FY'04 and anticipates an ongoing annual cost of $73,845, without an inflation adjustment.  When requesting this position, staff indicated that fees could be considered to offset this cost as part of the program implementation.   As part of bringing forward ordinance amendments for this program, staff will plan on including fees that would allow full recovery of the cost of this program.  This would allow the County Board the maximum flexibility in deciding what part of the program cost should be the responsibility of applicants.      

 

RECOMMENDATION:

 

Adopt a resolution of intent to amend the Zoning and Subdivision ordinances to implement a groundwater assessment program that includes fees that recover the cost of the program.  Direct staff to proceed with stakeholder review and a Planning Commission work session.

 

 

COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

AGENDA TITLE:

Groundwater Ordinance Work Session

 

 

SUBJECT/PROPOSAL/REQUEST:

Work session to consider the proposed groundwater ordinance and standards

 

 

STAFF CONTACT(S):

Tucker, Foley, Kamptner, Graham, Hirschman

 

 

LEGAL REVIEW:   Yes

 

AGENDA DATE:

July 7, 2004

 

ACTION:     X                        INFORMATION:   

 

CONSENT AGENDA:

  ACTION:                            INFORMATION:   

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:    Yes

 

 

REVIEWED BY:

 

 

 

BACKGROUND:

As the Board is aware, staff and the Planning Commission have been working with the Groundwater Committee over the past few years on the development of a groundwater ordinance and assessment standards.  The current proposal has a long history, including:

 

·         Chapter 2 of the Comprehensive Plan (1999) explicitly listed Groundwater testing standards and the formation of a groundwater committee as strategies.

 

·         The Groundwater committee was formed in the fall of 2000 based on authorizations from both the Board and Planning Commission.  The Committee produced its interim report, Underground Albemarle, on October 2001.

 

·         The Planning Commission held five work sessions throughout the process of developing the ordinance and standards.

 

·         The Board of Supervisors held three work sessions and adopted resolutions of intent to amend the appropriate ordinances to adopt the groundwater program on September 3, 2003.

 

·         A public Roundtable meeting was held on February 3, 2004 and a public comment period ensued.  The groundwater committee subsequently met to recommend changes to the ordinance and standards based on public comment, and these changes were incorporated into the current version of the program.

 

·         The groundwater program requires amendments to the Water Protection, Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances.  On June 1, 2004, the Planning Commission held a public hearing on the zoning text amendment and recommended its approval.  In conjunction with the public hearing, the Commission also reviewed the proposed groundwater assessment regulations that will be added to the Water Protection Ordinance and recommended approval of those regulations.  However, the Commission recommended that the County-operated monitoring well network, that is an integral part of the proposed groundwater program, be funded from the general fund rather than through application fees (see Discussion section below).   The Commission has not yet considered the subdivision text amendment. 

 

Attachments A and B are included for the Board’s information and review.  Attachment A is a one-page summary of the proposed four-tier groundwater assessment standards for building permits, subdivision plats, and site plans.  The attachment also outlines the proposed County-operated monitoring well network.  Attachment B is a comprehensive packet of information on the proposed program, including the ordinance amendments, standards, groundwater committee history, and information on the Roundtable process. 

 

 

STRATEGIC PLAN:

Goal 2.2.  Protect and/or preserve the County’s natural resources.

 

 

DISCUSSION:

At the Board’s July 7 work session, staff would like the Board to: (1) review and discuss the proposed amendments to Water Protection, Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances (Attachment B - Page 1-10) and (2) provide guidance to staff regarding the Planning Commission’s specific recommendation to fund the County-operated monitoring network with general fund revenues rather than application fees.

 

The County-operated  monitoring well network has always been an important part of the proposed groundwater program, as recommended by the groundwater committee.  At present, very little information is available on the County’s groundwater levels, and the monitoring well program will help bridge this gap over time.  The monitoring wells will also be tied to public outreach efforts (such as an alert system during droughts).  For more information on the monitoring well network, see Section 7.0 of the Groundwater Committee’s standards (page 21 of Attachment B).

 

As part of the Board’s September 3, 2003 resolutions, it was stated that the program brought before the Board would incorporate fees to recover 100% of program costs.  Staff expects that the proposed groundwater application fees (outlined in Attachment A) would recover 100% of the costs to fund the Groundwater Program Manager position, approved in the FY ’04 budget. . This position has an initial cost of $117,695 budgeted for FY'04 and anticipates an ongoing annual cost of $73,845, without an inflation adjustment.   

 

However, the Planning Commission recommends that the program costs for the monitoring well network portion of the program not be funded by fees, and instead be funded through general fund revenues since all citizens will benefit from the monitoring well network.  The Commission expressed that it would be more equitable to fund the monitoring well network through general revenues instead of allocating this cost to a narrow group of new permit applicants. 

 

Staff recommends that the County begin the monitoring well program by drilling two wells per year at an estimated cost of $8,000 per well, or approximately $16,000 per year. This cost includes drilling and monitoring equipment, but does not include site acquisition.  Staff anticipates and hopes that the necessary property interests and easements for the well sites and access thereto will be voluntarily dedicated or otherwise conveyed voluntarily at no cost to the County.

 

After this work session and if the Board so directs, the Planning Commission will hold public hearings on the zoning and subdivision text amendments.  The Commission must re-hear the zoning text amendment because it has been revised since the Commission’s June 1, 2004 hearing to add a fees provision.  After the Commission makes its recommendations on the zoning and subdivision text amendments, the Board may schedule a public hearing to amend the Water Protection Ordinance to add the proposed groundwater assessment regulations.

 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Staff recommends that (1) the Board consider the proposed ordinance amendments as recommended by the Planning Commission and advise staff of any changes the Board would like staff to include for consideration at the Planning Commission’s upcoming public hearing and (2) the Board approve the creation of a County-operated monitoring well network and consider the fee structure recommended by the Planning Commission, and advise staff as to whether the Board has a different preference regarding program cost recovery.

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:

ATTACHMENT A: Summary of Four-Tier Approach for Building Permits, Plats, and Plans

& Long-Term Monitoring Wells

 

 

ATTACHMENT B: Board of Supervisors Groundwater Information Packet

 

 

Groundwater Committee Context & Timeline

 

The work of the Groundwater Committee is one component of building an overall groundwater program.  This document summarizes the Comprehensive Plan’s policies related to the committee, the committee’s initial goals, a timeline of committee and groundwater efforts, and representation on the committee.

 

Comprehensive Plan: Chapter 2, Natural Resources & Cultural Assets

 

Strategy:  The Groundwater Subcommittee should investigate a requirement for hydrogeological testing to verify suitable groundwater quantity and quality in the Rural Area and develop a draft hydrogeological testing policy and ordinance language for consideration by the Board of Supervisors.

Strategy:  The Groundwater Subcommittee should investigate a requirement for a water quality testing requirement for private wells prior to issuance of a building permit and develop draft ordinance language for consideration by the Board of Supervisors.

 

Overall Committee Goal: Promote the sustained use of groundwater as a water supply for the Rural Areas.

 

·         Groundwater Data Base

·         Regional Studies

·         On-Site Testing/Reporting Standards for New Development

·         Comprehensive Plan

 

Committee’s Task Goal: Develop policies and standards for the verification of adequate groundwater quantity and quality for new development proposals in the Rural Areas.  The policies and standards shall strive for the following characteristics:

 

·         Cost Effective

·         Produces Useful Data

·         Useful for Long-Term Monitoring

·         Improves Subdivision Design

·         Can be Accomplished in Reasonable Amount of Time

·         Leverages Best Application of private individual systems versus centralized

·         Promotes water delivery systems that can be maintained through time

·         Integrates with Regional Studies

·         Promotes coordination between County and VDH (& other agencies)

 

Groundwater Committee Process/Timeline To Date

·         Chapter 2 of the Comprehensive Plan is adopted, 1999

·         Based on request from the Planning Commission, County water staff investigates and writes a report on what other Virginia localities are doing with regard to hydrogeologic testing.  Resulting report, Verifying Adequate Groundwater Supplies for Rural Subdivisions, is completed in March, 2000

·         Planning Commission (PC) recommends formation of groundwater committee (March 2000).  Board of Supervisors (BOS) authorizes committee and its representation (May 2000).

·         Committee meets 10/00, 11/00, 12/00, 2/01, 3/01, 6/01, 4/02.

·         BOS update on committee’s work, 12/6/00.

·         Committee releases its interim report, Underground Albemarle, 10/01.  Committee recommends that we “check in” with decision-makers about our direction.

·         PC Work Session, 12/18/01, 1/22/02 (ENSAT presentation), 3/5/02.  Guidance is that committee should continue with recommendations in Underground Albemarle.  Numbers 1 (regional studies), 2 (Good Development Practices), 3 (Streamline Rural Preservation Development), and 6 (Consider Groundwater in Comp Plan Update) are being implemented and tied to Comprehensive Plan update for Rural Areas.  Number 4 (Groundwater Assessment Standards) should be pursued by committee, with specifics brought back to the PC.  Number 5 (Reevaluate Central Systems) should be pursued in the context of gathering more information.

·         County’s groundwater consultant, ENSAT Corporation, completes phase 1 study for the Ivy/Mechums Basins, 4/02.

·         BOS Work Session, 3/6/02.  Directs staff to come back with an accelerated work program for the ordinance.

·         Drought, late summer, fall, 2002.

·         BOS Work Session, 8/7/02.  Directs staff to proceed with accelerated program.

·         ENSAT initiates phase 2 for entire County, plus groundwater assessment standards, 9/02.

·         Committee trip to Loudoun County, 1/03.

·         Joint BOS/PC Work Session on Rural Areas, 3/5/03 and 4/2/03.  One outcome is direction to staff to explore alternative technologies for water and wastewater in rural areas.  Report on this topic is completed in June, 2003 (Technology Choices for Water & Wastewater).

·         Kessler Group funds pilot study for Glen Oaks, 3/03.

·         ENSAT completes draft groundwater assessment standards, and True North Environmental completes draft Glen Oaks pilot study for Kessler Group, 5/03.

·         Groundwater Committee meets 5/22/03, 6/17/03, and 7/15/03 to review and comment on subsequent drafts of the standards.  Four rounds of comments are made by the committee through meetings and email, and comments are incorporated into the draft standards.

·         Board of Supervisors adopts resolutions of intent to amend Water Protection, Zoning, and Subdivision ordinances on 9/3/03 to begin the public review and implementation phases.

·         Roundtable/stakeholder meeting held on 2/3/04. The roundtable meeting was attended by 25-30 people, including representatives from the development community, well drillers, non-profit and community organizations, consultants, and private citizens.

·         Groundwater committee meets 3/8/04 to discuss roundtable and other public comments.  Committee agrees to make several changes to standards based on input.

·         PC work session held on 4/27/04.  PC decides to set public hearing and additional work session for 6/1/04.  At the 6/1 hearing, PC votes to approve the Zoning amendment and recommends approval of other program elements (Water Protection Ordinance amendment) to the Board.  PC also recommends that funding for monitoring wells come from general revenues rather than a surcharge on building permits.

·         BOS work session scheduled for 7/7/04.  Potential public hearing on 8/4/04.

 

Groundwater Committee Members

 

·         Carl Christiansen, Virginia Department of Health, Office of Water Programs

·         Don Franco, The Kessler Group

·         Ed Imhoff, retired geologist

·         Greg Kamptner, County Attorney’s Office

·         Jack McClelland, Virginia Department of Health, Thomas Jefferson Health District

·         Nick Evans, Virginia Groundwater, Thomas Jefferson Soil & Water Conservation District

·         Scott Clark, Department of Planning & Community Development

·         Jared Lowenstein, formerly on the Planning Commission (not active)

 

 

For More Information on the Committee or Proposed Groundwater Program: David Hirschman, Water Resources Manager, 296-5861, X3410, dhirsch@albemarle.org

 
 

Groundwater Assessment -- Revised Ordinance and Standards:

Summary of Roundtable Meeting, Issues & Costs

 

This document contains the following information:

 

·         Section 1 (page 27) provides an outline of the questions and issues raised during the February 3, 2004 Groundwater Roundtable meeting.  This meeting was an opportunity for the public to learn about the proposed program, offer comments, and identify issues.  Section 2 (page 29) summarizes other comments received during a public review period and from County staff.

·         The Groundwater Committee met on March 8, 2004 to discuss the comments received, and recommended particular modifications to the standards and ordinance.  These changes are addressed in Section 3 (page 30).

·         Section 4 (page 31) summarizes the expected costs of complying with the various tier levels of groundwater assessment.

·         Section 5 (page 32) reviews the expected number of submittals of each tier level of groundwater assessment based on available data.

 

1.  Summary of Roundtable Meeting, February 3, 2004

 

The purpose of the meeting was to introduce information on the proposed groundwater program and offer attendees a chance to ask questions, offer comments, and identify issues.  The meeting was not intended to address all of the issues, but to get them on the table so that County staff can outline a process for continued public review and work sessions by the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.

 

The roundtable meeting was attended by 25-30 people, including representatives from the development community, well drillers, non-profit and community organizations, consultants, and private citizens.  The meeting began with David Hirschman (Albemarle County Engineering) and Mike Maloy (ENSAT Corporation) giving a powerpoint presentation on the County’s groundwater study and proposed assessment standards.  This was followed by questions and comments from those in attendance. 

 

The following issues were raised at the meeting.  If there was some discussion on the point, this is paraphrased in italics after the comment:

 

·         Isn’t the creation of large lots a form of groundwater management that seems to work very well?  Perhaps this is the simplest form of groundwater management.

This may be so in terms of keeping groundwater users spread out, but other planning objectives (e.g., some of the recommendations in the Rural Area Plan for clustering) may be in conflict with this.

 

·         It seems that this is (or should be) a two-pronged program to address quality AND quantity issues.  Also, does the County have a program for groundwater remediation?

The State (DEQ) handles the leaking tank remediation program.  On occasion, the County gets involved with replacement water supply issues at DEQ’s behest.

 

·         There could be confusion with erosion control and getting well rigs into a site before a building permit is issued.  The County’s erosion control requirements may cause a conflict with the well provision.

 

·         Proportional to all the wells drilled, there are very few dry wells.  Also, there is a high cost to test wells (for aquifer testing).

 

·         There is concern for the impact on affordable housing.  Developers will pass along the cost of this program to the home buyer.

 

·         Are there environmental impacts to well drilling (dry streams)?  In California, they dried up streams with well pumping.

 

·         Who will benefit from this program?

This is an important question.  The County’s goal is to protect public health and safety and the public interest in terms of generating groundwater information prior to development.  An example may be watching out for existing users of groundwater (neighbors) when new development comes in, or trying to prevent water quality problems.  Other means may be in place, for instance through the lending institutions, to watch out for the interests of lenders or prospective buyers, but these should not be the basis for a County program.  The County’s interest is good stewardship of groundwater resources.

 

·         There are long-term costs to well problems (going dry, contamination).  Maybe up-front costs (of the groundwater assessments) are worthwhile if some long-term costs are avoided.

 

·         Does the program address non-household uses, such as an existing property drilling a well and putting in an irrigation system that uses lots of water?  This is happening in Albemarle County.

The program would not prevent an existing resident from drilling a new well and putting in an irrigation system.  The program does not propose to regulate groundwater withdrawal rates from individual users.  However, the program would address new non-residential uses, such as golf courses or industrial uses.

 

·         We should also promote techniques that reduce water consumption, such as rainwater harvesting.  What effect will this program have on the Health Department and County’s acceptance of these types of systems (such as using rainwater to flush toilets)?

Water use consumption is listed in the assessment standards as a groundwater management practice.  Perhaps the County could help promote these things through the regulatory process as part of the groundwater strategy.

 

·         Even if a study is done prior to development, there are no guarantees over the long-term as to groundwater availability or potability.  Things can still go wrong.

 

·         What is the value of a monitoring well?  Groundwater yields are so variable even on one property that it is uncertain what one monitoring well represents.

 

Some technical questions addressed at the meeting as listed below, with responses in italics:

 

·        What it the percentage of County land that is designated as groundwater “sensitive?”

16%

 

·        How many of the Leaking Underground Storage Tanks shown on the sensitivity map have been fully addressed (closed out) under DEQ’s program?

Certainly many have, but the exact number has not been researched by the consultant.  If they are closed out, in many cases there is still petroleum product left in the ground.

 

·        Does the County have the staff resources to implement the program?

A new staff position has been budgeted to answer this need.

 

·        Who owns the water under a property?

The use of water withdrawn from under one’s property is subject to a “reasonable use” standard based on common law precedents.  Our proposed program would not take away anyone’s right to use water, but it would put in place some performance standards to be met before development approval.

 

·        How many other Virginia Counties have groundwater ordinances of this nature?

This issue is addressed in the Verifying Adequate Groundwater Report (available on the web site).  Several counties in the northern Piedmont have a hydrogeologic testing ordinance (Loudoun, Faquier, Orange, Rappahanock).  In addition to these, Madison requires a well be drilled prior to getting a building permit.  Some other counties (Roanoke) have more of a certification type program that does not include testing.

 

·        Scientists now believe that groundwater in the Piedmont is younger (on the order of years to several decades) than once believe? Does this raise concerns?

Yes, it makes the potential for contamination more immediate. It means that the source of groundwater in the Piedmont is very local (probably no more than a few hundred acres for a well).

 

2.  Other Issues & Written Correspondence

 

The following additional issues were identified by County staff or in written correspondence.

 

·         Timing for Erosion Control Agreements: The majority of rural area residential construction projects are covered by Erosion Control Agreements to cover building of driveways and home sites.  The agreements are triggered by the building permit application.  If the well had to be drilled prior to getting a building permit, then applicants would need to build roads into their properties to allow access by drill rigs.  Much of this activity could “fall below the radar” for erosion control (Staff).

·         Will the Standards Be a Disincentive for Rural Preservation Developments? It may be the County policy encourages the RPD option.  However, the groundwater standards become increasingly stringent as lot sizes decrease.  Would we be created an unintended disincentive for RPDs? (Staff).

·         Public Perception: How will the public respond to having to drill a well prior to receiving a building permit?  Perhaps an option is to strongly encourage this practice, especially in areas of known groundwater problems.  (Ron White, email, 1/20/04).

·         Cost of Housing: Any costs, especially for Tiers 3 and 4 will add onto already high housing costs.  (Staff discussions).

·         Drilling Before Building Makes Sense: Madison County requires the well to be drilled before a building permit.  Some local drillers have expressed that this makes a lot of sense in terms of making sure a parcel has water first.  (Staff discussion with well driller).

·         Frequency of Problem Lots: We have heard that no one has ever been prevented from building due to absolute lack of groundwater (drilling a successful well).  Some builders have said they have never had a lot not get water over the course of many years, although some have had "scary” cases.  Anecdotally, others contend that the incidence of “problem lots” (have to drill multiple wells) is on the rise.  (Staff discussion with builders and VDH personnel).

·         Is Aquifer Testing Appropriate for Subdivisions that use Individual Water & Sewer?  Aquifer testing is involved and expensive.  It may be appropriate for commercial and industrial uses, but is questioned for residential divisions with individual utilities.  In other words, is it overkill for these types of uses?  (Ron White, email, 1/20/04).

·         Statistical Basis for Monitoring Wells: Wouldn’t there be a more scientific or statistical way to determine how many and where monitoring wells should go.  If so, then the County could determine where it wants monitoring wells and work through private/public partnerships to get them installed.  The cost should be equal for developments that need a well and those that don’t have the monitoring well requirement.  (Neil Williamson, email, 2/5/04).

·         Support from EARL Survey: The Earlysville Area Residents League (EARL) conducted a survey in the winter of 2002/2003, and there was a lot of support for water conservation and studying water capacity to support development.  (Ann Mallek, email, 3/5/04).

 

3.  Groundwater Committee Response to Comments – Revised Standards

 

The committee discussed comments received at a meeting on March 8, 2004.  The committee seriously considered the comments and recommended changes that have been incorporated into the revised standards (dated March 18, 2004).  The most substantial revisions are outlined below.

 

·        The committee decided that Tier 4 (aquifer testing) is not an appropriate test for residential subdivisions that use individual well and septic.  The groundwater management plan (Tier 3) will address best practices for groundwater and is suited to identifying water quality and quantity concerns without resorting to expensive aquifer testing.  Aquifer testing can help explain how the water bearing zones to a particular well behave, but this information may not be able to be generalized to other wells in the subdivision.  In making this decision, the committee focused on what the program is trying to accomplish.  Several important objectives are preventing the “mining” of groundwater and promoting educational messages and good development practices (e.g., limiting clearing of land) to protect groundwater.

·         Groundwater sensitivity zones were removed as a criteria for determining which Tier level a project must comply with, and were instead added to the list of items that must be addressed in a groundwater management plan.  The sensitivity zones identified in the County study are very useful at a County or planning scale.  At the site scale, they represent “red flags” for a site management plan to address.  This was seen as a more appropriate approach, and helped to simplify the regulatory program.

·         The committee discussed comments pertaining to the utility of long-term monitoring wells.  The committee consensus is that a monitoring well network would be valuable for the County and for promoting the cause of sustainable use.  Water levels could be tied to some type of alert system and outreach efforts.  Also, at present, there is hardly any data available to make judgements about the “mining” of groundwater in particular areas, and the monitoring wells will help to begin the process of building a useful data set.  It was also agreed to get monitoring wells installed according to an overall County plan, appropriate divisions can dedicate easements for these wells, and the program could be funded through an additional fee on building permits in the Rural Areas.  The group felt that it was more equitable to tie this fee to building permits rather than plats so that the cost is spread over more of the users and beneficiaries of the program.  A new Section 7.0 was added to the standards addressing monitoring wells.

 

The committee also discussed the issue of water rights. It was reported that some in the community are concerned about water rights and that the proposed program would impinge on the individual’s right to have reasonable use of the water.  The “takings” issue would come into play if the standards prevented building on a piece of property.

 

The committee discussed that the proposed program is a system of performance standards, and is not designed to prevent development on any given parcel (say, within an area of sensitivity).  If certain types of land uses are proposed, then they have to meet the performance standard for that type.  It doesn’t prevent the development from taking place.  The enabling authority to require “assurance of an adequate” water has been established by the Attorney General’s office in a letter to Larry Davis, County Attorney, dated October 23, 1997.

 

The committee’s recommended changes to the standards based on the public comment period are shown in the revised standards, dated March 18, 2004.

 

4.  Anticipated Costs

 

Anticipated costs to comply with the groundwater standards are listed below.  The County fees listed are based on the assumption that fees will cover 100% of the costs of the program (primarily one FTE to administer the program).  The intention is to allow the Board flexibility in deciding what percentage of program costs should be allocated to applicants, as stated in the Board executive summary for September 3, 2003.  In this regard, the fee structure is subject to modification by the Board.

 

·         Tier 1: Drill Well Prior to Building Permit – This requirement shifts the cost of drilling a well to earlier in the process.  Potentially, the up-front cost would be born by a different party (e.g., builder rather than lot buyer).  The County fee is based on some administrative expenses plus a surcharge to help cover the costs of a monitoring well network.  County Fee = $ 50 (administrative) + $45 (monitoring wells) = $95.

·         Tier 2: County Staff Review – There would be no additional costs aside from the review fee.  Review times may increase depending on staffing.  County Fee = $250 + $25/lot.

·         Tier 3: Level A Groundwater Management Plan: This level of plan involves some limited mapping, some of which is already required through the subdivision and site plan processes, some land use inventory information, and a report.  Approximate cost range is $1,000 to $3,000 depending on the size and location of the site.  County Fee = $400.

·         Tier 3: Level B Groundwater Management Plan: The cost for this type of plan is likely to range from $4,000 to $5,000 based on a very limited data set.  The Level B plan adds additional field work and design work to the Level A content.  County Fee = $400 + $25/lot.

·         Tier 4: Groundwater Management Plan & Aquifer Testing: A good way to gage costs for a full Tier 4 assessment is to refer to costs in Loudoun County, where these types of tests have been required for over a decade.  Tier 4 requirements are similar to, but do not exactly correspond to the tests required in Loudoun.  Based on data gathered for Verifying Adequate Groundwater for Rural Subdivisions (Albemarle County, 2000), the groundwater management plan (including field work) can be in the $6,500 to $8,500 range, while the aquifer testing can cost several thousand more, depending on the number of wells drilled and tested.  For Albemarle’s proposed program, Tier 4 testing would only apply to commercial and industrial uses that use substantial amounts of water and central water systems.  County Fee = $1,000.

5.  Expected Submittals for Revised Ordinance & Standards

 

Figure 1 shows the estimated number of submittals of each Tier level based on data available for the years 2000 through 2002 (assuming the groundwater standards had been in place during this time).  These data were derived from the Development Activity Reports completed by the Department of Planning & Community Development as well as specific queries of the Comprehensive Information System.

 

As can be seen in Figure 1, the gross majority of submittals are expected to be Tier 1 and Tier 2.  The reason for this is most divisions in the Rural Areas create only a small number of lots.  For instance, in 2002, 77 divisions created 169 lots (average lots/division = 2.2).  The other factor that limits projects from jumping to the Tier 3  requirement is that there have been a limited number of lots created in the 2 to 5 acre range.  In 2002, 22 lots created out of a total of 168 were in the 2 to 5 acre range.  The average lot size for development right lots (less than 21 acres) was 11.15 acres in the Rural Areas.  This pattern may change depending on Rural Area policies proposed for the Comprehensive Plan.  For instance, if maximum lot sizes for an RPD are set, one would expect more projects to fall in the Tier 3 category.

 

The vast majority of projects that would be subject to the groundwater standards are residential.  Non-residential projects in the Rural Areas that require a new structure or drilling of a new well are not widespread.  Examples over the past several years include: a County park, a small commercial project, rescue squad, and some institutional uses (library).  These types of uses would fall in the Tier 3 category, with Tier 4 being reserved for major water users (e.g., golf courses) and projects that intend to use a central water system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1: Estimated Submittals for Each Tier Level if the Groundwater Standards had been in place for 2000-2002.

 

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