Rappahannock Friends and Lovers of Our Watershed

Green light for Hazel River Tier III in Park and in Culpeper County

On June 1, the State Water Control Board voted unanimously to take the next step in designating portions of the Hazel River as Exceptional State Waters. The designated portions are within the Shenandoah National Park and in Culpeper County. The Hazel as it flows through Rappahannock County outside the Park is omitted, at the request of the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors.

Following is the email from DEQ announcing this decision.

Dear Mrs. Mello,

I’m happy to tell you that the State Water Control Board voted unanimously (and without discussion) to accept the staff recommendation to:

.......initiate a rulemaking to amend the Water Quality Standards regulation to designate as Exceptional State Waters:

  1. The portion of Hazel River within Rappahannock County from its headwaters downstream to the Shenandoah National Park boundary; and,
  2. The portion of the Hazel River starting at its first crossing of the Rappahannock County and Culpeper County boundary line downstream to its confluence with the Rappahannock River.

What this means: We will issue a Notice Of Intended Regulatory Action (NOIRA) and it will be published in a local and State (Richmond Times-Dispatch) newspaper and mailed to the local gov’t and interested parties. The NOIRA has a 60 day comment period. We have yet to determine when the NOIRA will be issued but I’m thinking late August or sometime in September. This issue will not make it to the Sept. Board meeting but more than likely go before the Board in December. At that time the SWCB will decide whether or not to accept the proposed amendment and carry it to its final stage. I spoke briefly with Alan Pollock (my boss) and he is thinking we may pursue the participatory approach where a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) composed of local government representatives and other interested parties meet and discuss the proposed language for the amendment. He already knows my opinion that we shouldn’t turn this into “Swiss cheese” any more than it already has but to embrace the proposed designation of the Hazel River in a holistic manner.

Your patience and perseverance in this matter have been astounding.....Virginia’s lengthy regulatory process will require more of the same. By copy on this email I’m letting others who’ve been following this issue know of the Board decision.

Take care and please contact me if you need additional information or have any questions.

FYI – at yesterday’s meeting the Board approved portions of 6 streams in Amherst Co. and 3 in Alleghany Co. for Exceptional State Waters designation though that decision must receive EPA approval before the amendment is effective. Don’t see a problem getting approval though.

David C. Whitehurst
Dept. Environmental Quality
PO Box 10009
Richmond, VA 23240
Phone - 804-698-4121
Fax - 804-698-4116
email - dcwhitehurst@deq.virginia.gov