Natural Resources 070213 Gloucester, Virginia
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Natural Resources 070213 Gloucester, Virginia Document Transcript

  • 1. Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 1 NATURAL RESOURCES Gloucester County’s environment includes many natural resources, including woodlands, rivers, creeks, and wetlands. These assets, along with abundant farm land, have provided a means of livelihood and a high quality of life for county residents for more than 350 years. Watermen benefit from the extensive shoreline and proximity to the Chesapeake Bay, farmers profit from plentiful good quality soils, and everyone reaps the rewards of living in a place of broad rivers, forests, rural landscapes and waterfront vistas. Maintaining the resources that support this traditional way of life is a priority for Gloucester County and serves as a guiding principle in its growth management philosophy. The effects of population growth and land development impact the natural environment in many ways. These include, but are not limited to: • loss of plant and wildlife habitat; • contamination of groundwater; • saltwater intrusion arising from increased groundwater withdrawals; • degradation of surface water quality; • decrease in groundwater recharge and availability; • disruption of natural drainage systems; • air pollution; • increased solid wastes; and, • loss of the County’s visual quality. The impact of growth and development on the quality of Gloucester’s environment is an issue of public concern, but environmental deterioration is not an inevitable consequence of population growth. Patterns of development that are detrimental to natural resources can be identified and mitigated by encouraging growth in appropriate areas and by ensuring that new development is designed and constructed in an environmentally sensitive manner. Areas of Gloucester County that are more susceptible to environmental degradation should be identified and development directed away from them and guided to areas of the County where environmental impacts will be less severe. The County’s “contained growth” philosophy, together with countywide land use and zoning ordinances, provide the framework to manage the location and character of anticipated future growth in an environmentally sensitive manner. Legal Framework Localities are required by state laws and regulations to address environmental issues through their comprehensive plans. The same enabling legislation that allows and requires localities to create comprehensive plans specifies what information those plans should contain. Specifically, localities should designate areas for various uses such as agriculture, mineral resources, and flood plains.1 In addition, localities should designate areas in order to implement ground water protection measures and provide maps showing agricultural and forest areas. To ensure that comprehensive plans are based on sound data, localities are required to study a variety of conditions, including the use of land, the preservation of agricultural and forestal land, natural resources, ground and surface waters, geologic and environmental factors, drainage, 1 Code of Virginia § 15.2-2223
  • 2. 2 Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 and flood control. Beginning in 2013, localities will also be required to include coastal resource management guidance currently being developed by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.2 The Commonwealth also requires localities to address environmental issues via the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act and its associated regulations.3 The Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act explicitly authorizes local governments to protect the quality of state waters through their police and zoning powers, and requires them to incorporate the protection of the quality of state waters into their comprehensive plans, zoning ordinance, and subdivision ordinances. The Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act is enforced by the Commonwealth through the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Designation and Management Regulations, which specify the steps local governments must take to be in compliance. Localities are required to develop a local program incorporating several elements, including: 1. a map delineating Chesapeake Bay Preservation Areas (CBPAs) 2. performance criteria applying to developments within those CBPAs 3. a comprehensive plan that incorporates the protection of CBPAs and of the quality of state waters 4. a zoning ordinance and a subdivision ordinance that incorporate measures to protect the quality of state waters in CBPAs and require compliance with state regulations 5. an erosion and sediment control ordinance or revision that requires compliance with state regulations, and 2 Code of Virginia § 15.2-2223.2 3 Code of Virginia § 10.1-21 6. a plan of development process that assures that development within CBPAs will protect the quality of state waters prior to the issuance of any building permits The regulations go into further detail for each program element. Comprehensive plans are required to incorporate data collection and analysis, policy discussions, maps, and measures to implement local and state water quality goals. Specific topics mentioned in the regulations for data collection and policy discussions are the location and extent of CBPAs, physical constraints to development, fisheries and other aquatic resources, shoreline and streambank erosion problems, land use, existing and potential water pollution sources, public and private waterfront access, the mitigation of development impacts on water quality, and the use of redevelopment to improve water quality. In response to concerns about water quality and the health of the Commonwealth’s coastal resources, the General Assembly passed legislation in 2011 that established “living shorelines” as the preferred alternative in Virginia for shoreline management in terms of erosion control and water quality protection. This legislation required the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) to develop and implement a general permit that “authorizes and encourages the use of living shorelines as the preferred alternative for stabilizing tidal shorelines in the Commonwealth” and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) to develop comprehensive coastal resource management guidance for local governments.4 Beginning in 2013, localities will be required to include this guidance in their comprehensive 4 Code of Virginia § 28.2-104.1
  • 3. Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 3 plans and plan updates.5 Although VIMS has not developed specific guidance for Gloucester County, general guidance, tools, and best management practices have been completed; this information is included in a later section of this chapter. Existing Conditions and Trends Location and Climate Gloucester County occupies the southernmost part of Virginia’s Middle Peninsula, bounded by King and Queen, Middlesex, and Mathews Counties, and by the York River, Piankatank River, and the Chesapeake Bay. Gloucester County encompasses a total land area of 225 square miles and is characterized primarily by flat terrain with a few areas of steep slopes (defined as over a 15 percent grade) in the northern and western areas of the County. Gloucester’s climate is influenced by its proximity to the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean, generally resulting in mild winters and warm, humid summers. National Weather Service (NWS) monitoring stations are located nearby in Mathews County and in the Town of West Point in King William County. Data from both stations indicates that the average annual temperature in the Gloucester area is 57°F to 59°F. January is normally the coldest month, while July is the hottest. The average annual rainfall is about 45 inches and is well distributed throughout the year. According to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), the most frequently reported weather events in the County are thunderstorms, severe lightning, high winds, and flash flooding. In 5 Code of Virginia § 15.2-2223.2 addition to summer thunderstorms, major producers of rainfall in Gloucester include northeasters and tropical storms. Hurricanes occasionally bring heavy rain, high winds, and tidal flooding. The most significant weather events in recent years include Hurricane Isabel, which struck on September 18, 2003 and an April 2011 tornado. Flooding from the storm surge of Hurricane Isabel caused extensive property damage in the region and many trees were uprooted. The April 2011 tornado destroyed homes, cost lives, and rendered Page Middle School unsuitable for use. Storms like the November Nor’easter of 2009 also caused flooding in the County. Increased flooding from “typical” weather events has been noted over the last decade, with less severe storms causing flooding in portions of the County. Soils A current survey of Gloucester soils is available from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.6 Map NE-1 shows soil types in the County, according to the NRCS. The soils of Gloucester County are formed from unconsolidated marine sediments and vary from east to west. Most of the area west of a line running from Hayes north to Dutton contains generally deep, well-drained permeable soils, although it also contains some sandy ravines. The majority of agricultural land and forests are located in this part of the County. To the east of this line, the County is characterized by lower elevation and a high percentage of soils with wetness problems. These soils also have a high clay content that 6 This data can be viewed online through the NRCS Web Soil Survey Tool at http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/app/HomePa ge.htm
  • 4. 4 Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 restricts the movement of water and limits its utility for a variety of land uses. Soils are classified using a taxonomy developed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which has six levels: orders, suborders, great groups, subgroups, families, and series. Gloucester County's numerous soil types fall under five different soil orders: histosols, ultisols, alfisols, inceptisols, and entisols. Histosols are composed mainly of decomposed organic matter, such as that found in wetlands or bogs. Ultisols are forest soils that have lost much of their minerals which can support agriculture. Alfisols are also forest soils, but have retained more of their mineral nutrients so are favorable for agriculture. Inceptisols are relatively undeveloped soils. Entisols are the most undeveloped, consisting of unconsolidated material.7 Specific soil types, as cataloged by the NRCS, are described in Table NENR-1 and shown on Map NENR-1. 7 http://soils.cals.uidaho.edu/soilorders/index.htm
  • 5. Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 5 Table NENR-1: Soil Types SOIL NAME ORDER DESCRIPTION Alaga Entisols The Alaga series consists of very deep, excessively drained, rapidly permeable soils on uplands and non-flooding stream and marine terraces of the Coastal Plain. These soils consist of loamy sand. They formed in sandy marine or fluvial sediments. Caroline Ultisols The Caroline series consists of very deep, well drained soils of moderately slow or slow permeability on marine terraces of the Coastal Plain. These soils consist of loam, clay, and sandy clay loam. They formed in clayey fluvial and marine sediments. Craven Ultisols The Craven series consists of very deep, moderately well drained soils of slow permeability found on marine terraces and uplands of the Coastal Plain. These soils consist of silt loam, clay, and sandy clay loam. They formed in marine deposits. Dogue Ultisols The Dogue series consists of very deep, moderately well drained soils of moderately slow permeability found on stream terraces of the Coastal Plain. These soils consist of fine sandy loam, clay loam, and sandy loam. They formed from marine deposits. Emporia Ultisols The Emporia series consists of very deep, well drained soils of moderately slow to slow permeability found on marine terraces and uplands of the Coastal Plain. These soils consist of sandy loam, clay loam, and sandy clay loam. They formed from marine deposits. Eunola Ultisols The Eunola series consists of very deep, moderately well drained, moderately permeable soils that formed in fluvial or marine sediments. These soils consist of fine sandy loam and sandy clay loam. They are on low stream or marine terraces of the Coastal Plain. Fluvaquents Entisols Fluvaquents are found on flood plains on the Coastal Plain. They are very deep, poorly drained, and moderately permeable. These soils consist of loam, sandy clay loam, and gravelly sand. They formed from alluvium. Fluvaquents, saline Entisols Fluvaquents are found on flood plains on the Coastal Plain. They are very deep, poorly drained, and moderately permeable. These soils consist of very fine and fine sandy loam. They formed from alluvium. Hapludults Ultisols Hapludults are found on marine terraces of the Coastal Plain. They are very deep, moderately well drained, and of moderately slow permeability. These soils consist of fine sandy loam and sandy loam. They formed from marine deposits. Haplaquepts Inceptisols Haplaquepts are found on flats of the Coastal Plain. They are very deep, somewhat poorly drained soils of moderately rapid permeability. These soils consist of loam, sandy loam, and loamy sand. They formed from marine deposits.
  • 6. 6 Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 SOIL NAME ORDER DESCRIPTION Johns Ultisols The Johns series consists of very deep, moderately well drained soils of moderate permeability. They are found on stream terraces of the Middle or Upper Coastal Plain or river valleys. These soils consist of sandy loam, sandy clay loam, and loamy sand. They formed from alluvium or fluviomarine deposits. Kalmia Ultisols The Kalmia series consists of very deep, well drained soils of moderate permeability. They are found on stream terraces on the Coastal Plain and river valleys. These soils consist of sandy loam, sandy clay loam, and loamy sand. They formed from marine deposits. Kempsville Ultisols Soils of the Kempsville series are very deep, well drained, and moderately permeable. These soils consist of fine sandy loam, sandy clay loam, and stratified sandy loam. They formed in loamy sediments on the upper Coastal Plain. Kenansville Ultisols The Kenansville series consists of very deep, well drained, soils of moderately rapid permeability found on Coastal Plain uplands and stream terraces. These soils consist of loamy fine sand, sandy loam, and loamy sand. They have formed in marine and fluvial sediments. Lumbee Ultisols The Lumbee series consists of very deep, poorly drained soils of moderate permeability found on stream terraces and flats on the Coastal Plain and river valleys. These soils consist of sandy loam, sandy clay loam, and sand. They formed from marine deposits. Meggett Alfisols The Meggett series consists of very deep, poorly drained soils of slow permeability found on marine terraces on the Coastal Plain. These soils consist of sandy loam, sandy clay, and very gravelly sandy loam. They formed from marine deposits. Ochlockonee Entisols The Ochlockonee series consists of very deep, well drained soils of moderately rapid permeability that formed from marine deposits. These soils consist of sandy loam, stratified loamy sand, and stratified sandy clay loam. Ochraquults Ultisols Ochraquults are found on flats of the Coastal Plain. They are very deep, poorly drained soils of moderate permeability. These soils consist of fine sandy loam and loam. They formed from marine deposits. Okeetee Alfisols The Okeetee series consists of very deep, somewhat poorly drained soils of very slow to slow permeability found on marine terraces and stream terraces on coastal plains and river valleys. These soils consist of sandy loam and sandy clay. They formed from marine deposits. Osier Entisols The Osier series consists of very deep, poorly drained, rapidly permeable soils found on flood plains or low stream terraces of coastal plains. These soils consist of loamy fine sand. They formed from marine deposits. Pactolus Entisols The Pactolus series consists of very deep, moderately well drained soils of rapid permeability found on marine terraces of coastal plains. These soils consist of loamy sand. They formed from marine deposits.
  • 7. Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 7 SOIL NAME ORDER DESCRIPTION Pamlico Histosols The Pamlico series consists of very deep, very poorly drained soils of moderate to moderately rapid permeability found on depressions on coastal plains. These soils consist of muck and sand. They formed from organic material. Portsmouth Ultisols The Portsmouth series consists of very deep, very poorly drained soils of moderate permeability found on depressions on coastal plains. These soils consist of loam, silt loam, and stratified loamy sand. They formed from marine deposits. Psamments Entisols Psamments are found on marine terraces on coastal plains. They are very deep, moderately well drained soils of rapid permeability. These soils consist of fine sand and sand. They formed from marine deposits. Rumford Ultisols The Rumford series consists of very deep, well drained soils of moderately rapid permeability found on marine terraces on coastal plains. These soils consist of loamy fine sand, fine sandy loam, and stratified fine sand. They formed from marine deposits. Suffolk Ultisols The Suffolk series consists of very deep, well drained soils of moderate permeability found on marine terraces on coastal plains. These soils consist of fine sandy loam, sandy clay loam, and loamy sand. They formed from marine deposits. Sulfaquents Entisols Sulfaquents are found on salt marshes on coastal plains. They are very deep, very poorly drained soils of very slow to slow permeability. These soils consist of mucky silty clay loam and mucky silty clay. Wrightsboro Ultisols The Wrightsboro series consists of very deep, moderately well drained soils of moderate permeability found on stream terraces on coastal plains. These soils consist of fine sandy loam and sandy clay loam. They formed from marine deposits. Source: Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S Department of Agriculture Soils are evaluated for their suitability for common uses, primarily agriculture and conventional septic systems. Typically, soils best suited for agriculture are also the soils best suited for conventional septic tank use. Farmland classification of soils is shown on Map NENR-2. Highly permeable soils are unsuitable for conventional septic drain fields and are shown on Map NENR-3. These classifications help identify which areas are more suitable for development. Map NENR-4 shows that the majority of the soils in the southeastern part of Gloucester are classified as hydric, meaning that inundation occurs for periods of time that are sufficient to create anaerobic conditions. Hydric soils are also found along streams and rivers throughout the County. Although not all areas with hydric soils are classified as wetlands, these areas generally have a high water table and are susceptible to poor drainage and flooding. They are unsuitable for development or for traditional septic systems.
  • 8. 8 Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 Prior to the implementation of environmental and land use regulations in the County, residential and commercial uses developed in the southeastern half of the County where the soils are poorly suited for residential development. Wastewater disposal and protecting groundwater quality are soil-related problems that could be aggravated by unguided future development. The previous Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan generally coordinated the proposed Bayside District and Resource Conservation District, which shows large areas of soils unsuitable for traditional septic system use or otherwise unsuitable for high density or commercial development due to physical constraints. The issues of water quality and groundwater protection are discussed in greater detail later in the chapter. Slopes Most of the County is relatively flat. Areas with slopes greater than 15% are generally not considered appropriate for building structures. However Gloucester County does not have any prohibition against building on steep slopes. In Gloucester County, most of the areas with high slopes are along streams and other water bodies. These are shown on Map NENR-5. Prime Farmland Agriculture is an important part of Gloucester County’s history and economy. Identifying areas that are well suited for farming is an important step in preserving those areas for agricultural uses. The NRCS identifies areas that are appropriate for farming through its soil surveys. Gloucester County possesses over 53,000 acres of prime farmland, over 22,000 acres of land that would be considered prime farmland if properly drained, and over 7,500 acres of farmland that is of statewide importance. The NRCS classifies farmland based on its potential agricultural productivity. Prime farmland is considered the best for agricultural use in terms of climate, location, physical and chemical properties, available water supply, permeability, and erosion potential. Farmland of statewide importance is land that is not quite as good as prime farmland for agricultural uses or that requires additional treatment to produce high agricultural yields. The precise definition of farmland of statewide importance varies by state, while prime farmland meets a national standard. The County’s prime farmland is shown on Map NENR-2. When considering areas of the County for future land use, it is important to identify the prime soils so that the areas identified on the future land use plan for agriculture and forestry coincide with these prime soils. Watersheds and Drainage A watershed is an area of land from which all water, sediments, nutrients, and other dissolved materials drain into a common outlet. When precipitation occurs, water runs to the lowest point, usually a stream, river, or lake and eventually the ocean. Gloucester County lies entirely within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, which includes parts of six states (Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia) and the District of Columbia. These watersheds, or drainage units, cover Gloucester County's entire land surface and eventually contribute to the major rivers. Everything that happens to a watershed can affect what ends up in the water.
  • 9. Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 9 Table NENR-2: Gloucester County Streams STREAM NAME DRAINAGE AREA (SQ. MILES) LENGTH (MILES) ELEVATION AT SOURCE (FEET) ELEVATION AT MOUTH (FEET) MOUTH IN COUNTY Sandy Creek 0.94 2.0 42 0 Gloucester Jones Creek 4.37 3.9 93 0 Gloucester Aberdeen Creek 3.26 3.4 84 0 Gloucester Carter Creek 8.51 6.4 90 0 Gloucester Cedarbush Creek 2.57 3.7 61 0 Gloucester Timberneck Creek 3.83 4.1 62 0 Gloucester Sarah Creek 5.22 0.3 0 0 Gloucester Northwest Branch 2.96 2.5 11 0 Gloucester Northeast Branch 2.16 2.3 7 0 Gloucester Poropotank River 39.19 15.6 123 0 King & Queen, Gloucester Unnamed Stream 2.44 3.3 135 0 King & Queen, Gloucester Woods Mill Swamp 4.92 4.6 131 0 King & Queen, Gloucester Poplar Spring Branch 6.26 4.6 107 0 King & Queen, Gloucester Adams Creek 2.87 4.5 100 0 Gloucester Purtan Creek 1.47 2.9 101 0 Gloucester Leigh Creek 1.40 2.2 100 0 Gloucester Bland Creek 5.74 4.7 102 0 Gloucester Fox Creek 2.92 1.7 52 0 Gloucester Source: Gloucester County Thus, effective flood control, conservation of fresh water, enhancement of water quality, and control of soil erosion and sedimentation make land use practices throughout the watershed almost as important as those located directly on the shorelines. The land area occupied by Gloucester County is drained by the York, Piankatank, North, Ware, and Severn rivers and their tributaries. Major stream segments in the County that drain watersheds to the County's creeks and rivers are identified in Table NENR-12. The County’s subwatersheds (Hydrologic Unit Code 12), as cataloged by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), are shown on Map NENR-6. Sources of Potable Water and Water Use Present water use is a product of local geography, water needs, transportation patterns and requirements, social and economic forces, and development patterns. Water
  • 10. 10 Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 resources are critical to the physical and economic health of the community as well as the natural environment. Many practices have the potential to severely degrade the water quality and quantity. Many of these practices and threats were cataloged through the Hampton Roads Source Water Assessment Program. This program resulted in a Regional Source Water Assessment for the region’s surface water sources, which documented land uses and threats within critical areas related to surface water supplies.8 Gloucester County began delivering water services from the Beaverdam Reservoir and associated water treatment plant in July 1990. The Beaverdam Reservoir is located north of the Gloucester Court House area and is surrounded primarily by low density zoning with two to five acre minimum lot sizes. The County owns an approximately 300-foot to 600-foot wide buffer surrounding the reservoir, which makes up Beaverdam Park. The Park is used for passive recreational activities such as fishing, boating, nature study, picnics, hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding. Water quality is monitored weekly through algae counts. A survey is conducted every three years to evaluate development around the reservoir. Other than the various County ordinances affecting land use and development, there are no special requirements or overlay district around the reservoir to prevent or manage pollution of the surface water. The existing buffer area and low density zoning have been sufficient thus far to protect water quality. The 8 CH2M Hill. Regional Source Water Assessment. Prepared for the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission Directors of Utilities Committee and Hampton Roads Source Water Assessment Program Subcommittee. July 2001 County should consider additional requirements if deemed necessary as a result of routine water quality monitoring. Increasing regulations with regard to surface water protection will require the County to adopt more protective measures should the development around the reservoir continue. The County also has two wells. More information regarding the county water supply is found in the Community Facilities section of this plan. Regional Water Supply Planning In 2007, sixteen cities and counties and eight towns signed a Memorandum of Agreement to develop a Regional Water Supply Plan for Hampton Roads. In July 2011, the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission accepted the plan and authorized its distribution to local governments for adoption. The regional plan enables the localities to meet the water supply planning requirements of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 9 VAC 25-780. The purposes of this regulation are to (1) ensure that adequate and safe drinking water is available to all citizens of the Commonwealth, (2) encourage, promote, and protect all other beneficial uses of the Commonwealth’s water resources, and (3) encourage, promote, and develop incentives for alternative water sources. The regional plan covers the existing water supply, future water needs and alternatives, and water demand management information and drought response plans. In accordance with the Code of Virginia as well as the State Water Control Board implementation regulations a regional water supply plan was prepared by staff of HRPDC. This Plan was prepared for the Cities of Chesapeake, Franklin, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk,
  • 11. Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 11 Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg and the Counties of Gloucester, Isle of Wight, James City, Southampton, Surry, and York as well as the Towns of Boykins, Branchville, Capron, Claremont, Courtland, Dendron, Ivor, Newsoms, Smithfield, Surry, and Windsor. The plan was adopted by the Gloucester County Board of Supervisors in August of 2011. As of November 2011, all of the localities had adopted the plan, which was then submitted to DEQ. The Plan includes elements describing existing water use, assessment of projected water demand, statement of need, alternatives analysis, descriptions of water management and drought response actions. In the Plan Gloucester is classified as part of the Peninsula sub-region. Groundwater Framework Gloucester County is located within the Virginia Coastal Plain Physiographic Province, which extends from the Fall Line in the west to the Atlantic Ocean in the east, and from the Maryland border in the north to the North Carolina border in the south. The surface of the Virginia Coastal Plain consists of a series of broad, gently sloping, highly dissected north- south trending terraces bounded by seaward facing, ocean cut escarpments. The subsurface is characterized by wedge-shaped unconsolidated sedimentary deposits that slope and thicken towards the east. The thickness of this wedge ranges from 0 feet at the western edge to over 6,000 feet along the Atlantic coast (McFarland and Bruce, 2006). These deposits consist of clay, silt, sand, and gravel, with variable amounts of shell material. These sediments overlay a bedrock basement of igneous and metamorphic rocks that also slopes gently to the east. Many different depositional environments existed during the formation of the Virginia Coastal Plain deposits. In general, the stratigraphic section (vertical profile) consists of a thick sequence of non-marine (riverine and alluvial) sedimentary deposits overlain by a thinner sequence of marine (near shore beach, estuarine, and delta) sedimentary deposits. Beneath Gloucester there are also breccia type sedimentary deposits associated with the Chesapeake Bay Impact Crater (see Map NR-7). The groundwater flow system in the Coastal Plain of Virginia is a multi-aquifer system. The most recent study of the hydrogeologic framework was completed by USGS in 2006 (McFarland and Bruce, 2006). Based on the framework, there are eight water bearing hydrogeologic units (aquifers) and eleven less permeable units that restrict groundwater flow (confining zones and confining units). The aquifers and confining units are stacked on top of each other and often alternate. Because of this configuration, flow in the aquifers primarily is lateral instead of vertical. The flow moves eastward and toward large withdrawal centers and major discharge areas near large rivers and the Atlantic coast. However, the flow pattern is disrupted by the Chesapeake Bay Impact Crater, which was formed over 35 million years ago when an asteroid or comet landed near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and created a crater over 50 miles in diameter. The impact of the asteroid or comet obliterated the deepest aquifers. A mixture of materials rushed into the crater and created a layer of sediments (breccia) unique from the non-marine sediments present before the impact. As illustrated in Figure NE-1, the groundwater system beneath Gloucester County is comprised of five aquifers and five confining units. The
  • 12. 12 Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 Columbia aquifer, also referred to as the surficial aquifer, is the water table aquifer throughout most of Gloucester. In some areas, the Columbia aquifer and confining unit below it have been incised by the bay so the Yorktown-Eastover aquifer is the water table aquifer. In other parts of the county, the Yorktown-Eastover aquifer is a confined aquifer, covered by the Yorktown-Eastover confining unit. The Piney Point aquifer, Aquia aquifer, and the Potomac aquifer are all deeper confined aquifers underlying Gloucester. The confined aquifers are separated from aquifers above and below by confining beds. The northwest portion of the Chesapeake Bay Impact Crater covers the southern third of Gloucester. The Aquia and Potomac aquifers existed before the crater impact so both aquifers were obliterated in the southern portion of Gloucester. They were replaced by the breccia formed by the impact. The breccia has a low conductivity and contains stagnant saltwater in its pore spaces. The regional groundwater flow appears to diverge and flow around the crater rim. The Piney Point aquifer was deposited after the crater impact and is present across the entire county. The following paragraphs provide a general description of the aquifers identified in Gloucester from youngest to oldest (top to bottom). Columbia Aquifer The Columbia aquifer is the uppermost aquifer and is unconfined throughout its extent. It consists of sand and gravel. The Columbia aquifer is used primarily for domestic water supplies (drinking water and irrigation). Because it is shallow and easily accessible, it has historically been an important water source. However, it is susceptible to drought and contamination and is less reliable than confined aquifers. In favorable conditions, wells may yield 10 gallons per minute or more (McFarland and Bruce, 2006). Yorktown-Eastover Aquifer The Yorktown-Eastover aquifer is composed of sand with some interbedded silt. The Yorktown- Eastover aquifer is separated from the Columbia aquifer by the Yorktown confining zone. The confining zone leaks more than a confining unit and in some areas the Yorktown confining zone may function as an aquifer. In cross section, the Yorktown-Eastover aquifer is wedge-shaped, sloping, and thickening to the east. In Gloucester, the top of the aquifer is roughly 50 to 75ft below ground surface. Numerous wells withdraw water from the Yorktown-Eastover aquifer and it typically yields high-quality water. Wells commonly produce 10 to 30 gallons per minute. Piney Point Aquifer The Piney Point aquifer is a homogenous, sandy aquifer. It extends over the entire county including the impact crater. In Gloucester, the top of the Piney Point aquifer is approximately 250 to 400ft below ground surface and wells commonly yield 10 to 50 gallons per minute (McFarland and Bruce, 2006). The Piney Point aquifer includes two formations. The upper formation is rarely used for water supplies because of low yields and the prevalence of hydrogen sulfide. The lower formation is a more effective water producing zone. However, the Piney Point aquifer as a whole is not used across the crater where sediments contain brackish water.
  • 13. Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 Figure NE-1: Hydrogeology of the Coastal Plain of Virginia Source: The Virginia Coastal Plain Hydrologic Framework Aquia Aquifer The Aquia aquifer only exists in the northwest portion of Gloucester. It is composed of medium to coarse sands. It is less than 50ft thick and is approximately 400ft below ground surface. Wells in the Aquia aquifer may yield as little as 5 gallons per minute or as much as 50 gallons per minute. Typically, the glauconitic sands found in the Aquia aquifer eventually weather and clog well screens and produce poor water quality. Also, it is very likely that in Gloucester the Aquia aquifer contains brackish water (McFarland and Bruce, 2006). Potomac Aquifer The Potomac aquifer is the deepest and thickest aquifer in Virginia’s Coastal Plain. The aquifer is composed of sand and gravel with many large clay interbeds. In previous studies, the Potomac aquifer was defined as three aquifers. the most recent hydrogeologic stud that it is hydraulically continuous on a regional scale and the clay interbeds affect flow on a 1: Hydrogeology of the Coastal Plain of Virginia Source: The Virginia Coastal Plain Hydrologic Framework The Aquia aquifer only exists in the northwest It is composed of It is less than 50ft thick and is approximately 400ft below ground Wells in the Aquia aquifer may yield as little as 5 gallons per minute or as much as 50 Typically, the glauconitic sands found in the Aquia aquifer eventually weather and clog well screens and produce Also, it is very likely that in Gloucester the Aquia aquifer contains brackish water (McFarland and Bruce, 2006). is the deepest and thickest aquifer in Virginia’s Coastal Plain. The aquifer is composed of sand and gravel with many large In previous studies, the Potomac aquifer was defined as three aquifers. However, the most recent hydrogeologic study indicated that it is hydraulically continuous on a regional scale and the clay interbeds affect flow on a localized scale. In Gloucester, the top of the aquifer is roughly 500ft below ground surface in the western part of the county and dips to over 1000ft below ground surface in the eastern part of the county. The Potomac aquifer is the most heavily used groundwater resource in the Virginia Coastal Plain. In 2005, about 90 percent of the reported annual withdrawals were from the Potomac aquifer. Major wa completed in the central and southeastern parts of the Coastal Plain have yielded 100 to 500 gallons per minute (McFarland and Bruce, 2006). However, the water is generally brackish and desalination is required to make it suitable for domestic or industrial use. Groundwater Recharge and Discharge Areas Groundwater flow in unconfined aquifers tends to reflect surface water flow. Groundwater flows from areas of relatively high elevation to adjacent areas of relatively low elevation. 13 In Gloucester, the top of the aquifer is roughly 500ft below ground surface in the western part of the county and dips to over ft below ground surface in the eastern part The Potomac aquifer is the most heavily used groundwater resource in the In 2005, about 90 percent of the reported annual withdrawals were from Major water supply wells completed in the central and southeastern parts of the Coastal Plain have yielded 100 to 500 gallons per minute (McFarland and Bruce, However, the water is generally brackish and desalination is required to make it suitable stic or industrial use. Groundwater Recharge and Groundwater flow in unconfined aquifers tends to reflect surface water flow. Groundwater flows from areas of relatively high elevation to adjacent areas of relatively low elevation.
  • 14. 14 Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 Groundwater recharge can occur across almost any upland surface. Land surfaces with steep slopes are less effective groundwater recharge areas than broad and relatively flat grassy uplands. Groundwater recharge occurs when rainwater that percolates into the ground enters the unconfined (water table) aquifer. Research also suggests that in some areas of the Coastal Plain groundwater recharge occurs between aquifers (Meng, A.A. III, and Harsh, J.F., 1988). This occurs when the hydraulic pressure of groundwater in one aquifer forces water through a leaky confining unit into an adjacent aquifer. This movement can be either up or down based on the hydraulic properties of the aquifers. The location and magnitude of recharge between the aquifers, however, has not been well documented. Groundwater discharge areas are located in low-lying areas and are characterized by rivers, springs, and wetlands. Discharge areas for the confined aquifers may occur off the coast beneath the Atlantic Ocean or beneath the Chesapeake Bay. Air Quality As a requirement of the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for certain criteria pollutants including ozone, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter (40 CFR 50). These standards are implemented in Virginia by the state Department of Environmental Quality and are designed to protect the public health and to prevent harm to the environment. When a geographic area meets these standards, the area is known as an attainment area, however if an area fails to meet these standards, then the EPA designates the area as nonattainment. A designated nonattainment area must develop a plan to bring the region into compliance with the NAAQS which it is failing to meet. In addition to developing this plan, known as a State Implementation Plan (SIP), the area must also implement transportation conformity requirements. Transportation conformity requires all regional transportation plans, programs, and projects to be analyzed to ensure conformity with the EPA’s Transportation Conformity Rule (40 CFR 93). The EPA must review and concur with this analysis before the Federal Highway Administration can approve it. Any changes to the regional Air Quality transportation plans, programs, and projects after a conformity approval is received, must be re-analyzed and approved before the change can occur. Transportation conformity is required for 20 years after an area is able to demonstrate compliance with the NAAQS. During this 20- year maintenance period, the maintenance area, as classified by the EPA, must maintain a SIP to ensure continued compliance with the NAAQS. Hampton Roads is currently classified as an 8- hour ozone maintenance area. The Hampton Roads ozone maintenance area includes the counties of Gloucester, Isle of Wight, James City, and York, along with the cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg. EPA is expected to revise the ozone standard sometime in the next few years. This is likely to result in the reclassification of Hampton Roads as a nonattainment area for ozone. The main contributors to air quality deficiencies are heavy industry and automobile traffic. Although Gloucester lacks heavy industry that contributes to air pollution,
  • 15. Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 15 surrounding areas do contain industries and high levels of traffic that impact local air quality. Current limits on open burning and potential alternative transportation plans that reduce traffic congestion will produce positive effects on local air quality, although these measures will not prevent regional nonattainment designation. Plants and Animals The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage (DCR- DNH), and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' Fish and Wildlife Information System maintain inventories of wildlife resources and habitats for Gloucester County. The Virginia Fish and Wildlife Information Service Website currently lists 446 different species found in Gloucester County. These include quail, dove, rabbit, wild turkey, hawks and owls, songbirds, turtles and amphibians, raccoon, beaver, opossum, muskrat, skunk, squirrel, woodchuck and white-tailed deer. Bald Eagles have nest sites established in the County. Tidal marshlands attract Sora Rail and Clapper Rail, and numerous varieties of wild ducks and other waterfowl. Freshwater fish include large and small-mouth bass and bream. Saltwater fish include shad, croaker, spot, bluefish, channel and black sea bass, menhaden, mackerel, eel, white and silver perch, and a variety of other saltwater species. Natural Heritage Resources The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Division of Natural Heritage defines natural heritage resources as the habitat of rare, threatened, or endangered plant and animal species, unique or exemplary natural communities, and significant geologic formations such as caves and karst features. Twenty-eight species and communities in Gloucester County have been designated by DCR as natural heritage resources (Table NENR- X3). DCR identifies and protects natural heritage resources statewide and maintains a comprehensive database of all documented occurrences of natural heritage resources in Virginia. DCR has developed conservation sites that contain known populations of natural heritage resources and include adjacent or surrounding habitat vital for their protection. Conservation sites do not represent protected lands; rather, they are recommended for protection and stewardship because of the natural heritage resources and habitat they support, but are not currently under any official protection designation. Conservation sites are areas that contain one or more rare plant, animal, or natural community and are designed to include the element, its associated habitat (where possible), and a buffer or other adjacent land thought necessary for the element’s conservation. Conservation sites can be used to screen development projects for potential impacts to natural heritage resources, aid local and regional planning, identify targets for acquisitions and easements and guide priorities for restoration activities. A prominent example of a conservation site in Gloucester County is the Dragon Run Conservation Site, which contains multiple rare species and habitat types. The Dragon Run supports an abundance of fish, wildlife, and plants, including ancient cypress trees. There are six natural heritage resources associated with the Dragon Run Conservation Site: the Bald Eagles, the Red Turtlehead, Bald Cypress Mixed Tupelo Intermediate Swamp, Northern Coastal Plain Tidal Bald Cypress Woodland, Tidal
  • 16. 16 Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 Oligohaline Marsh (Narrow-leaved Cattail – Eastern Rose – Mallow Type), and Tidal Freshwater Marsh (Wild Rice – Mixed Forbs type). The Dragon Run’s natural ecosystem has survived primarily because the area is largely undeveloped – about 80 percent of the area is forested and the rest is primarily agricultural. Conservation sites are given a biodiversity significance ranking based on rarity, quality, and the number of element occurrences they contain; rankings are based on a scale of one to five, with one being the most significant. The Dragon Run Conservation Site has been given a biodiversity ranking of B2, which represents a site of very high significance. In addition to the Dragon Run Conservation Site, there are twenty-four (24) other conservation sites in Gloucester County (Table NENR-X 4 and Map NENR-X8). The Dragon Run watershed is one of the most important, largely undisturbed natural areas remaining in Gloucester County. Located along Gloucester’s northern boundary, this still pristine spring-fed waterway has been the subject of intensive study by local, regional, and state agencies. The Dragon Run Special Area Management Plan, produced by a partnership between the Dragon Run Steering Committee, the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission, and the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, part of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), was completed in November 2003. The plan represents a common vision developed by multiple stakeholders and contains an action plan and benchmarks to measure progress in the effort to conserve the resources of the Dragon Run watershed. Gloucester County adopted the Dragon Run Watershed Management Plan as an addendum to the Comprehensive Plan in November 2004. The Dragon Run and its surrounding landscape owe their extraordinary state of preservation to the landowners in the area that have pursued compatible land uses such as farming and forestry. Recent scientific studies have also highlighted the watershed’s critical ecological importance to the region and its ecological value, including the purity of its water, the wealth of rare and unusual natural species it harbors, and the rural character of this pristine watershed. The rural way of life and traditional landscape in the Dragon Run Watershed are both valued by the residents of the area and considered worthy of conservation. One of the objectives of the Watershed Management Plan is to “Achieve consistency across county boundaries among land use plans and regulations in order to maintain farming and forestry and to preserve natural heritage areas by protecting plants, animals, natural communities, and aquatic systems.” As a result, the future land use plan identifies the watershed as the Dragon Run Conservation District and provides recommendations for this area to continue to remain largely rural, with low intensity uses, so as to sustain its key natural areas, water quality and rural character.
  • 17. Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 17 Table NENR-X3: Natural Heritage Resources GROUP NAME SCIENTIFIC NAME COMMON NAME LAST YEAR OBSERVED GLOBAL RANK FWS SPECIES OF CONCERN STATE RANK FEDERAL STATUS STATE STATUS Terrestrial Natural Community Acer rubrum - Fraxinus pennsylvanica / Packera aurea - Carex bromoides - Pilea fontana - Bidens laevis Forest Coastal Plain Calcareous Seepage Swamp 2010 G2 SOC S2 Vertebrate Animal Ambystoma mabeei Mabee's Salamander 2010 G4 S1S2 LT Vertebrate Animal Ammodramus caudacutus Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow 1992 G4 S2B, S3N Vascular Plant Cardamine pratensis Cuckooflower 2010 G5 S1 Vascular Plant Carex reniformis Reniform Sedge 1964 G4? SH Vascular Plant Chelone obliqua Red Turtlehead 1999 G4 S1 Vertebrate Animal Circus cyaneus Northern Harrier 1992 G5 S1S2B, S3N Vascular Plant Cuscuta cephalanthi Button-bush Dodder 1970 G5 S1? Vascular Plant Cuscuta indecora Pretty Dodder 1997 G5 S2? Vascular Plant Eleocharis tricostata Three-angle Spikerush 1938 G4 S1 Vascular Plant Eriocaulon parkeri Parker's Pipewort 1986 G3 S2
  • 18. 18 Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 GROUP NAME SCIENTIFIC NAME COMMON NAME LAST YEAR OBSERVED GLOBAL RANK FWS SPECIES OF CONCERN STATE RANK FEDERAL STATUS STATE STATUS Terrestrial Natural Community Fagus grandifolia - Acer barbatum - Quercus muhlenbergii / Sanguinaria canadensis Forest Coastal Plain Calcareous Ravine Forest 2005 G2? SOC S2 Terrestrial Natural Community Fagus grandifolia - Quercus (alba, rubra) - Liriodendron tulipifera / (Ilex opaca var. opaca) / Polystichum acrostichoides Forest Northern Coastal Plain / Piedmont Mesic Mixed Hardwood Forest 2010 G5 S5 Terrestrial Natural Community Fagus grandifolia - Quercus (alba, velutina, montana) / Kalmia latifolia Forest Northern Coastal Plain / Piedmont Oak - Beech / Heath Forest 2010 G4 S3 Vertebrate Animal Falco peregrinus Peregrine Falcon 1994 G4 S1B, S2N LT Vertebrate Animal Haliaeetus leucocephalus Bald Eagle 2002 G5 S2S3B, S3N LT Vascular Plant Isotria medeoloides Small Whorled Pogonia 1997 G2 S2 LT LE Aquatic Natural Community NC-Great Wicomico- Piankatank First Order Stream NC-Great Wicomico- Piankatank First Order Stream 2011 G3 S3 Aquatic Natural Community NC-Great Wicomico- Piankatank Fourth Order Stream NC-Great Wicomico- Piankatank Fourth Order Stream 2011 G1G2 SOC S1S2 Aquatic Natural Community NC-Great Wicomico- Piankatank Second Order Stream NC-Great Wicomico- Piankatank Second Order Stream 2011 G3 S3
  • 19. Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 19 GROUP NAME SCIENTIFIC NAME COMMON NAME LAST YEAR OBSERVED GLOBAL RANK FWS SPECIES OF CONCERN STATE RANK FEDERAL STATUS STATE STATUS Vertebrate Animal Nyctanassa violacea Yellow-crowned Night- heron 1976 G5 S2S3B, S3N Vascular Plant Sabatia campanulata Slender Marsh Pink 1965 G5 S2 Vascular Plant Schoenoplectus fluviatilis River Bulrush 1995 G5 S2 Terrestrial Natural Community Taxodium distichum - Nyssa (biflora, aquatica) / Itea virginica / Saururus cernuus Forest Bald Cypress - Mixed Tupelo Intermediate Swamp 2000 G3G4 S3S4 Terrestrial Natural Community Taxodium distichum - Nyssa biflora - Fraxinus profunda / Peltandra virginica - (Bignonia capreolata) Tidal Forest Northern Coastal Plain Tidal Bald Cypress Woodland 2000 G3 S2 Vascular Plant Trillium pusillum var. virginianum Virginia Least Trillium 1984 G3T2 SOC S2 Terrestrial Natural Community Typha angustifolia - Hibiscus moscheutos Tidal Herbaceous Vegetation Tidal Oligohaline Marsh (Narrow-Leaved Cattail - Eastern Rose-Mallow Type) 1999 G4G5 S3? Terrestrial Natural Community Zizania aquatica - Pontederia cordata - Peltandra virginica - Polygonum punctatum Tidal Herbaceous Vegetation Tidal Freshwater Marsh (Wild Rice - Mixed Forbs Type) 2000 G4? S4?
  • 20. 20 Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 TERM DEFINITION S1 Critically imperiled in the state because of extreme rarity or because of some factor(s) making it especially vulnerable to extirpation from the state. Typically 5 or fewer populations or occurrences, or very few remaining individuals (<1000). S2 Imperiled in the state because of rarity or because of some factor(s) making it very vulnerable to extirpation from the state. Typically 6 to 20 populations or occurrences or few remaining individuals (1,000 to 3,000). S3 Vulnerable in the state either because rare and uncommon, or found only in a restricted range (even if abundant at some locations), or because of other factors making it vulnerable to extirpation. Typically having 21 to 100 populations or occurrences (1,000 to 3,000 individuals). S4 Apparently secure; Uncommon but not rare, and usually widespread in the state. Possible cause of long-term concern. Usually having >100 populations or occurrences and more than 10,000 individuals. S5 Secure; Common, widespread and abundant in the state. Essentially ineradicable under present conditions, typically having considerably more than 100 populations or occurrences and more than 10,000 individuals. S#B Breeding status of an animal within the state. S#N Non-breeding status of animal within the state. Usually applied to winter resident species. S#? Inexact or uncertain numeric rank. SH Possibly extirpated (Historical). Historically known from the state, but not verified for an extended period, usually > 15 years; this rank is used primarily when inventory has been attempted recently. S#S# Range rank; A numeric range rank, (e.g. S2S3) is used to indicate the range of uncertainty about the exact status of the element. Ranges cannot skip more than one rank. LE Listed Endangered LT Listed Threatened SOC Species of Concern species that merit special concern (not a regulatory category) Federal designations are developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. State designations are developed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage.
  • 21. Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 21 Table NENR-X4: Natural Heritage Conservation Sites SITE NAME BIODIVERSITY RANK LEGAL STATUS Bar Neck B5 SL Beaverdam Creek Slopes B2 NL Beech Swamp Uplands B5 SL Bena Woodlands B5 SL Carvers Creek at Route 198 (SCU) B4 NL Carvers Creek B5 SL Catlett Islands B5 SL Church Hill Pond B4 SL Coleman Bridge B5 SL Dragon Run B2 SL Dragon Run (SCU) B2 NL Ferry Creek Ravine B2 NL Ferry Creek Upstream Route 198 (SCU) B4 NL Four Point Marsh B5 NL Harper Creek B5 SL Heywood Creek B5 SL Leigh Creek B5 SL Maryus – Guinea Marshes B5 SL Piankatank B5 SL Robins Pond Headwaters B3 FL Rosewell B2 SL Shepherdsville Church B5 SL Signpine B5 SL White Marsh Pond B5 SL Woods Mill Swamp B5 SL Source: Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage TERM DEFINITION SCU Stream Conservation Unit B1 Outstanding Significance B2 Very High Significance B3 High Significance B4 Moderate Significance B5 General Interest FL Federally listed species present SL State listed species present NL No listed species present
  • 22. 22 Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 Important Bird Areas The Important Bird Areas (IBA) program is a global conservation effort coordinated by the National Audubon Society. IBAs are sites that provide essential habitat for one or more species of birds. IBAs may be a few acres or thousands of acres, but they are usually discrete sites that stand out from the surrounding landscape. IBAs may include public or private lands, or both, and they may be protected or unprotected. The Virginia IBA Program is a grassroots effort representing all regions of the state. The program identifies areas that are most important for nesting, mating, feeding, and wintering birds and, once identified, works to protect these areas through partnerships with local and state agencies and other groups. IBAs in Gloucester County are shown on Map NENR-79. These areas can be considered for protection or conservation status as part of the County’s future land use plan. Forest and Farmland Vegetation serves important functions in maintaining the land and supporting development by stabilizing the soil, preventing erosion, increasing soil permeability, and decreasing stormwater runoff. Vegetation also serves as a buffer for adjacent land uses, lessens the impact of noise, wind and heat, improves air quality, and provides habitat for wildlife. Although much of the land in the southeast portion of Gloucester County (which is the most suitable for growing loblolly and Virginia pine) has been lost to residential development, there are still large undeveloped portions of the County devoted to forestry uses. Good to fair soils occur throughout most of the northern and western portions of the County where the majority of forested acres include loblolly and Virginia pine. Other species grown and harvested as sawtimber commonly include yellow poplar, red oak, white oak, sweet and black gum, sycamore, ash, and some red maple. About 800 to 1,000 acres are planted by the Virginia Department of Forestry each year in Gloucester County. Almost all reforestation involves loblolly pine seedlings planted at 450 to 500 trees per acre. Even with reforestation at this level, it is doubtful that the present production of forest products in Gloucester can be maintained in the future due to the large scale conversion of forest land to other uses. The latest available forest surveys indicated that total forested acres in the County included approximately 89,000 acres of privately owned forest land and 500 acres of public land (U.S. Forest Service, 2007). The 2007 Census of Agriculture, published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, indicated that there were 159 active farms in Gloucester. Land in farms totaled 22,957 acres with an average farm size of 144 acres. Most of the farms, approximately 70%, were devoted to cropland. Soybeans, corn, and wheat were commonly produced crops. The 2007 Census also reported that Gloucester County had 3,738 acres of farmland being used as woodland, down 741 acres from 2002. Many more acres are currently being utilized by the forest industry or fall under private ownership. Figures are continually changing due to trends in absentee ownership and corporate land holdings. One of the County’s future land use goals is to preserve the rural character of the community. This can be achieved in a variety of ways; however the preservation of an active agricultural economy contributes to rural character while also providing economic benefits. In order to preserve viable agriculture and forestry in the midst of a growing
  • 23. Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 23 residential population, more active support of agriculture and forestry may be needed. This can be done through practical land use policies and local regulations that support profitability of these industries while also recognizing and accommodating for the changing nature of agriculture. Critical Areas The regulations of the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act (CBPA) require that local comprehensive plans address existing natural limitations of the land that can act as physical constraints to development. These may include: flood prone areas, highly erodible soils, highly permeable soils, wetlands, steep slopes, hydric soils, seasonally high water tables, groundwater recharge areas, significant wildlife habitat areas, prime agricultural lands, and protected lands. An assessment of soils for septic tank suitability is also required, although engineered septic systems now allow for development where soils are unsuitable for traditional septic systems. Gloucester County adopted a CBPA ordinance as the cornerstone of its response to state and interstate efforts to help protect and restore the Bay. As part of the ordinance, Gloucester designated CBPA areas that apply to all property in the County. Sensitive areas such as tidal shores, wetlands, and highly erodible soils are designated as Resource Protection Areas (RPAs) and include minimum 100-foot wide riparian buffers landward of these environmentally sensitive areas. All other lands in the County are classified as Resource Management Areas (RMAs), and are intended to protect the integrity of the RPAs. As a result, the County’s CBPA Ordinance acts as an overlay district for the entire County regardless of the zoning district. Gloucester County’s Site Plan Handbook summarizes the County’s Chesapeake Bay regulations in checklist form and includes stormwater calculation worksheets that can be used by developers to achieve compliance with pollutant removal requirements. Shorelines Shoreline conditions are described along primary and secondary shorelines, and characteristics are described for all contiguous navigable tidal waterways. The report covers 492.46 miles of the total 506.6 miles of shoreline, with approximately 98 miles coded remotely.9 The shoreline of Gloucester County is made up primarily of various types of marsh. The only segments of the Gloucester shore not considered low shore are along the York River from the Poropotank River to Sarah Creek. In this area, much of the land is classified as moderately low shore with bluffs ranging in height from 20 to 40 feet. The rest of the shore zone is composed of beaches. According to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), three beaches – near Fox Creek, around Gloucester Point, and on lower Jenkins Neck around Sandy Point – have the potential for medium- to high-intensity recreational uses (2008). Natural and Altered Shoreline Features The Gloucester County, Virginia Shoreline Inventory Report produced by VIMS indicates 9 The Gloucester County Shoreline Inventory Report includes thirty-four map plates and a summary table describing shoreline conditions. They are available online through the VIMS Center for Coastal Resources Management website at http://ccrm.vims.edu/gis_data_maps/shoreline_i nventories/index.html.
  • 24. 24 Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 that the natural shoreline consists primarily of marsh, accounting for approximately 90% of the total shoreline. There are also areas of beach, the most significant of which are located near Fox Creek, around Gloucester Point, and on lower Jenkins Neck around Sandy Point. Areas of forested shoreline are also noted throughout the County. Map NENR-8 10 shows manmade shoreline protection features identified as part of the shoreline inventory. Bulkheads and riprap revetments protect about 28 miles of shoreline in the County. Map NR-11 shows shoreline recreational structures, such as marinas, boathouses, docks, and boat ramps. The highest concentrations of altered shoreline features are found around Gloucester Point and Sarah Creek. Adjacent Land Uses Gloucester’s Shoreline Inventory Report shows that the majority of the shoreline in the County is either forested (44%) or scrub-shrub (29%). Residential land uses account for the largest remaining portion of shoreline (20%), with the rest divided among grass, agriculture, commercial uses, paved, and timbered areas (VIMS, 2008). Impacts of Land Development Land uses adjacent to the shoreline, both existing and proposed, are required by the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act to be considered in comprehensive planning studies. This allows for the identification and analysis of land and water use conflicts and water quality issues. Activities on land and water regularly impact the utilization and quality of water resources. Potential impacts include increased nutrients, sediment, and pesticides carried in runoff and increased flows, which can cause stream bank erosion. In developing areas such as Gloucester County, local governments have the opportunity to direct conflicting land and water uses away from sensitive natural resources through the comprehensive planning process. Redevelopment efforts in waterfront areas within Gloucester County may also utilize higher densities and other techniques in conjunction with preservation of open space to help reduce impacts to the Chesapeake Bay. Redevelopment Runoff from developed areas carried from impervious surfaces can potentially degrade local water quality. Paved areas cannot absorb rainwater and the resultant runoff can transport nutrients, pollutants, and toxic substances into local waterways. Some of the older areas of the County were developed prior to the enactment of environmental regulations that require water quality protection measures in their design. In this situation, redevelopment provides the primary means of making significant water quality improvements. During redevelopment of these older areas, water quality improvement measures such as stormwater best management practices (BMPs) and shoreline restoration activities can be incorporated. Redevelopment activities must also comply with impervious area limitations, preserve existing vegetation, and may require connection to existing sewer service. Several of these existing developed sites are working waterfronts and considered to be cultural resources in Gloucester. Redevelopment of these sites should be consistent with their current use. Potential Shoreline Development Sites In Gloucester, most of the seafood processing plants and marinas where boats are moored have existed for decades and may be
  • 25. Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 25 candidates for redevelopment. Redevelopment of older sites will also provide the opportunity for implementation of greater water quality protection measures. Some of the areas between Gloucester Point and Achilles, such as along Guinea Road (Route 216), Terrapin Cove Road, Tidemill Road, and Yacht Club Road are served by a Hampton Roads Sanitation District sewer force main, and the opportunity exists for marinas to connect for disposal of sanitary sewer wastes. Flood Prone Areas Flood prone areas are those sites in the County that are predictably subject to overflows from nearby water bodies. Development in flood prone areas is potentially both costly and hazardous. Several factors can determine the amount of damage caused by flooding, such as rate of water rise, depth and duration of flooding, geographic orientation of the shoreline, topography of the land, and the amount of threatened development. Development in flood prone areas can worsen flooding by increasing the amount of impervious cover, which prevents the natural infiltration and absorption of water into the soil. Preserving floodplains can have many benefits, including enhancing water quality, allowing recharge of groundwater aquifers, reducing flooding, providing fisheries and wildlife habitat, providing recreational opportunities, and protecting historic lands.10 Many flood prone areas in the County were developed before they were identified as part of a Special Flood Hazard Area and before the creation of federal and state floodplain protection programs. This historical development limits the opportunity to realize 10 DCR-CBLA, 1989 the full benefits of floodplain preservation. The County’s floodplain management efforts will continue to focus on the identification, reduction, and mitigation of flood hazards within developed areas. There may also be some opportunities for targeted restoration of floodplains through buy-out and relocation programs. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) identifies flood prone areas in Gloucester County on a series of Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), which were most recently revised by FEMA in September 2010. As part of the revision FEMA also provided the County the FIRM in digital format, which has been incorporated into the County’s online Geographic Information System (GIS). Elevations range from 0-160 feet above mean sea level, and approximately 27,000 acres of the County are within the 100-year flood plain. All new structures within these areas are required to be built with their finished floors above the 100-year flood levels indicated on the maps. Map NENR-9 12 illustrates the flood prone areas as indicated on the FIRMs. According to FEMA, Zone AE is the flood insurance rate zone that corresponds to the 1-percent annual chance floodplains. In most instances, Base Flood Elevations are determined within this zone and mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply. Zone VE is the flood insurance rate zone that corresponds to areas within the 1-percent annual chance coastal floodplain that have additional hazards associated with storm waves. Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements also apply here. Zone A indicates areas with a 1% annual chance of flooding and a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage. Because detailed analyses are not performed
  • 26. 26 Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 for such areas; no depths or base flood elevations are shown within these zones (Source: FEMA). Areas shown as X-500 have a moderate flood hazard, usually between the limits of the 100-year and 500-year floods. All other areas have a minimal flood risk. Gloucester County is a FEMA Community Rating System (CRS) member. Being a CRS member means that the County is audited annually by the Insurance Services Office (ISO) on how well the floodplain regulations in the community are administered and enforced. The CRS program is designed to recognize and encourage community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) standards. In 2010, Gloucester County earned “Class 7” status in the CRS program. As a result, Gloucester landowners who have flood insurance receive a fifteen (15) percent discount on their annual premiums. Gloucester County has addressed the potential hazards of development in flood prone areas through the adoption and revision of a Floodplain Management Ordinance, through inclusion of floodplain protections in its Subdivision Ordinance, and through development of a Floodplain Management Plan (FMP). The Floodplain Ordinance establishes performance requirements for development and redevelopment in floodplains. The ordinance was revised on August 3, 2010 to provide for increased flood protection standards of structures in the Flood Prone areas of the County. The Subdivision Ordinance directs that land subject to flooding be set aside for uses that would not be endangered by a periodic or occasional inundation. Lastly, County staff finalized a standalone floodplain management plan for the County that analyzes the causes of coastal flooding and identifies vulnerabilities, evaluates existing coastal flood management practices, and provides feasible solutions to strengthen the County’s overall coastal flood management system. Hazard mitigation strategies for Gloucester County are also addressed, and recommendations for improving existing strategies are provided. The plan incorporated input gained from citizens during three public meetings and communications with local, regional, state, and federal agencies and organizations. A sixteen (16) member planning committee made up of County staff and citizens from flood prone areas in Gloucester is charged with monitoring implementation, reviewing progress, and recommending revision to the plan in an annual report. The plan must be updated at least once every five years per the requirements of the CRS program. Dam Break Inundation Zones Localities are required to study dam break inundation zones and the potential impacts to downstream properties and incorporate that information into comprehensive plans. In general, dams are regulated if they exceed a certain height and capacity; exemptions are also made for specific uses. The hazard potential of a dam (low, significant, or high) is calculated based on its structural integrity and the various land uses that lie within its dam break inundation zone. The Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission covered dams and the potential for dam failures as part of its Middle Peninsula Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan, completed in 2010. According to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, there is one high hazard dam (Beaver Dam, with a maximum storage capacity of 20,523 acre-feet) in Gloucester County and one significant hazard
  • 27. Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 27 dam (Cow Creek Dam, with a maximum storage capacity of 931 acre-feet). There are nine additional dams that are not rated for their hazard potential by DCR. Dam break inundation zones for the two regulated dams in Gloucester County are shown on Map NENR-1013. Tidal and Non-Tidal Wetlands Wetlands are defined in Chapter 13 of Title 28.2 of the Code of Virginia and are classified as non- vegetated or vegetated wetlands. Non- vegetated wetlands means non-vegetated lands lying contiguous to mean low water and between mean low water and mean high water, including non-vegetated areas subject to flooding by normal and wind tides, but not hurricane or tropical storm tides. Vegetated wetlands are defined as lands lying between and contiguous to mean low water and an elevation above mean low water equal to the factor one and one-half times the mean tide range with certain types of vegetation present. They consist of mostly visible marshes and swamps. The type and extent of wetlands in Gloucester County are shown on Map NENR- 1014. Estuarine wetlands are tidal wetlands. Lacustrine wetlands are wetlands formed around interior bodies of water or dammed rivers. Palustrine wetlands are non-tidal wetlands. Riverine wetlands are those wetlands found along rivers before they reach lakes or salinity levels rise near oceans. According to the Virginia Wetlands Management Handbook (1996), there are five major benefits of wetlands. First, wetlands are important sites of food and energy production for the marine ecosystem. Second, they provide important waterfowl and fish and wildlife habitat. Third, wetlands provide natural protection from shoreline erosion. Fourth, wetlands help to filter pollutants, such as sediment and nutrients, from urban runoff, minimizing impacts to local water quality. Finally, wetlands help to reduce flooding through their capacity to absorb large amounts of water. In 2008, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) published a shoreline situation report for Gloucester County that describes its tidal wetlands. Of the more than 492 miles of shoreline studied, 90% percent is comprised of wetlands, including fringe, embayed, and extensive marshes. The total marsh and wetland acreage of Gloucester County ranks fifth among political jurisdictions in the Commonwealth, behind only the counties of Accomack and Northampton and the cities of Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. Gloucester County's more than 12,000 acres of wetlands are comprised of high and low marshes, creeks, ponds, wooded areas, and tidal flats. At least 5,000 of these acres are marsh, 3,500 acres are in creeks, 1,800 acres are comprised of tidal flats, and nearly 600 acres are swamp land less than five feet above sea level. Hammocks are areas elevated above the surrounding marsh and usually dominated by pines, cedars, and wax myrtle. They comprise about 1,000 acres of the County's wetlands and account for about 40 percent of the state's total hammock-type physiography, more than in any other County. Existing Wetlands Protection Policies Gloucester County currently protects wetlands through its Wetlands Zoning Ordinance. Under the Ordinance, any proposal to develop any vegetated or non-vegetated tidal wetland must first apply for a permit from the local wetlands board or the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC). The Board works in conjunction with VMRC and the U.S. Army
  • 28. 28 Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 Corps of Engineers’ Section 404 permit program in reviewing applications. In addition, tidal wetlands are protected as Resource Protection Area (RPA) features by the County’s Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance. This ordinance provides protection by requiring a buffer between development and the RPA feature. Non-tidal wetlands and other areas not included in the RPA are protected by designating them as Resource Management Areas. Some shoreline projects may include impacts under both the Wetlands Ordinance and the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance and may require coordinated reviews to address the requirements of both programs. Map NENR-11 15 depicts the approximate location of CBPA Resource Protection Areas in Gloucester County. In Virginia, tidal wetlands are also protected by the 1972 Wetlands Protection Act, as amended. The Act enabled the County to adopt its Wetlands Ordinance. This law established the joint permit process for construction, dredging, or filling in a tidal wetland and serves as the source of authority for actions taken on permits by the Gloucester County Wetlands Board. VMRC coordinates the joint permit with all appropriate agencies for review. VMRC also administers the Wetlands Protection Act and reviews all decisions handed down by the County board. Non-tidal wetlands are currently regulated at the federal level by Section 404 of the 1977 Clean Water Act, as amended, which prohibits disposal of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States and adjacent wetlands. A permit from the Army Corps of Engineers is required for non-tidal wetlands impacts. In addition, the Virginia Nontidal Wetlands Act of 2000 governs activities affecting non-tidal wetlands within the state and includes the following provisions. The law: • Requires permittees first to avoid, then minimize and, if wetlands must be destroyed, to replace their acreage and function. • Adopts the scientifically accepted definition of wetlands currently used by the federal government and the State Water Control Board. • Requires permits and mitigation from those proposing to drain, dredge, excavate, ditch, flood or impound, fill or discharge into non- tidal wetlands. • Requires the state to seek a Corps of Engineers' State Programmatic General Permit (SPGP) for most activities, thereby streamlining the permitting process. This SPGP has been issued. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issues state permits based on this general permit. • Exempts normal agricultural and silvicultural activities and homeowner landscaping and maintenance. • Requires general permits for a variety of activities, including sand, coal and gas mining activities, linear easements for public utilities and transportation projects, and activities affecting less than one-half acre. These general permits are issued by DEQ. Green Infrastructure As new residential and commercial development take place in Gloucester County it will be important to plan carefully for the protection of rural character and environmental resources that support a high quality of life for the County’s citizens. Green infrastructure is a systematic approach to conservation planning that can address a broad range of community needs. A green infrastructure approach can be used to identify a network of lands that is
  • 29. Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 29 valuable for a variety of reasons including natural resource protection, water quality protection, recreation, and protection of working lands and cultural resources. Green infrastructure planning is also useful in differentiating between areas that are suitable for future development and those that are not. The Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC) has completed a series of reports identifying important environmental areas in the region for inclusion in a regional green infrastructure network. This network extends from Gloucester County through the Peninsula to the Southside and Western Tidewater, and includes areas that provide water quality and wildlife habitat benefits. The most recent version of the Gloucester portion of the regional green infrastructure network is shown on Map NENR-1216. This network is documented in a series of reports11 that describe the methodologies used to identify the network. It also contains an inventory of resources such as parks and recreational areas. The regional network will be a starting point for the development of a more detailed network for the County. This county network can be used to connect the County’s rich natural resources with additional cultural and historic resources. It can also be used as a tool to plan for connections between important County assets. Even as the County grows and develops, existing rural and cultural landscapes and scenic views can be protected for residents and tourists visiting recreational and historic sites throughout the County. 11 HRPDC Green Infrastructure reports include A Green Infrastructure Plan for Hampton Roads (2010), Green Infrastructure in Hampton Roads (2007), and The Hampton Roads Conservation Corridor Study(2006). The HRPDC regional green infrastructure network identifies areas that are high value for water quality, habitat protection, and both. In Gloucester County, the 2010 green infrastructure plan identified approximately 900 acres that were high value for water quality, over 16,000 acres that were high value for habitat protection, and nearly 26,000 acres that were high value for both. This analysis can be used to prioritize areas for conservation, preservation, or outdoor recreational use. It can also be used to design a network of active and passive recreational areas that connect to environmental resources, as well as cultural and historic resources. Major Issues Soil Suitability for Septic Systems As discussed earlier, the majority of the soils in the southeastern part of Gloucester are classified as at least partially hydric, meaning that inundation occurs for periods of time that are sufficient to create anaerobic conditions. Hydric soils are also found along streams and rivers throughout the County. Although not all areas with hydric soils are classified as wetlands, these areas generally have a high water table and are susceptible to poor drainage and flooding. They are unsuitable for development or for conventional septic systems. Prior to environmental and land use regulation, residential and commercial development occurred in the southeastern half of the County where the soils are poorly suited for residential development. Wastewater disposal and protecting groundwater quality are soil-related problems that could be aggravated by unguided
  • 30. 30 Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 future development. The Future Land Use Plan identifies those areas of the county that are unsuitable for septic system use or are otherwise unfit for intensive residential, commercial, or industrial development due to physical constraints. Shoreline Erosion and Erosion Rates Severely eroding shorelines are defined by the Virginia Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Manual as eroding at a rate greater than 3 feet per year. Although generally small in size, there are several areas of high bank erosion noted in Gloucester County. These include the Carmine and Mumfort Islands in the York River, isolated areas around Timberneck Creek, and much of Mill Creek. Areas with high marsh erosion rates are reported near Morris Bay, Monday Creek, and along the Ware River in the vicinity of Page Creek, Goat Point Creek, Four Point Marsh, and Mud Point. However, areas of high erosion account for only about 4% of the marshy shoreline in the County and the remainder appears to be generally stable. A recommended hierarchy of possible shoreline stabilization measures for low, moderate, and severely eroding shorelines is provided below. The following ranking, summarized in Table NR- 5, is consistent with the goals of the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act and may help to guide recommendations on applications for installing new stabilization structures or replacing existing structures. It is important to note that although erosion control options are ranked individually, often a combination of erosion control methods is necessary. The measures are listed by ranking, with #1 being the most preferable option. In 2011, the General Assembly adopted living shorelines as the preferred shoreline stabilization measure as opposed to shoreline hardening measures such as bulkheads. Where shoreline stabilization is necessary, a unified area approach, rather than an individual site-by-site approach, is recommended. When such an approach is taken, individual costs can be lessened and worsening erosion problems for neighboring properties can be avoided. For more information on erosion control options, refer to Section V - Shoreline Erosion Control and Access Policy Options of the HRPDC Regional Shoreline Element of Comprehensive Plans, Part I: Guidance Manual. An additional source of information on shoreline erosion control options that is useful for homeowners is Shoreline Management in Chesapeake Bay (Hardaway and Byrne, 1999). A series of in- house studies titled Shoreline Erosion Control Guidelines, by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (1993), states that maintenance and establishment of marsh grasses should be considered as the first choice for shoreline erosion control in low energy areas with adequate site conditions.
  • 31. Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 31 Table NENR-X5: Hierarchy of Possible Shoreline Stabilization Measures Ranking Stabilization Measure Areas with a Low Erosion Rate (<1 foot/year) 1 Vegetative stabilization with/without bank regrading (if applicable) 2 Revetments 3 Bulkheads Areas with a Moderate Erosion Rate (1-3 feet/year) 1 Vegetative stabilization (depending on site-specific conditions) 2 Beach nourishment 3 Revetments 4 Breakwaters 5 Groins 6 Bulkheads (depending on site-specific conditions) Areas with a Severe Erosion Rate (>3 feet/year) 1 Relocation 2 Beach nourishment 3 Revetments 4 Breakwaters 5 Groins 6 Seawall Generally speaking, for enhancing water quality and aquatic habitat, the Living Shorelines approach using vegetative and non-structural forms of erosion control is preferred over other forms of shoreline stabilization. However, non- structural forms of erosion control are not always effective at shoreline stabilization as wave energy increases and erosion becomes more severe. Along shorelines with less than 0.5 nautical miles of fetch, marsh planting may be a viable form of shoreline erosion control. Along interior creeks where erosion is more severe, marsh plantings may be protected by a breakwater type of structure, such as a submerged sill, to protect the marsh toe. This approach has been shown to be successful throughout the Chesapeake Bay. Gloucester County Code, §7.5-10, allows the County to designate erosion impact areas under the Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance. Additionally, approval of a conservation plan for any erosion impact area can be required and made subject to all review, bonding, inspection, and enforcement provisions that apply to approved land-disturbing permits. The plan must be submitted by the property owner. Currently, the County has not determined a need to designate any areas as erosion impact areas. It appears that most of the areas with erosion problems are areas that have already been developed. Where new development is considered, the County’s existing regulations
  • 32. 32 Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 provide for protection of shorelines through avoidance (buffers) and mitigation. In areas where erosion affects already developed land, erosion control is the responsibility of the property owner. Stormwater Management Managing stormwater is an important local government function in Virginia. Gloucester County does not have a municipal stormwater system along the lines of those in cities such as Norfolk or Virginia Beach. Instead, it manages stormwater primarily through regulations such as the County’s Chesapeake Bay ordinance and its Erosion and Sediment Control ordinance, both of which are part of the County Code. This type of stormwater management program works best in mostly rural counties like Gloucester. However, parts of Gloucester such as Gloucester Point are growing. This may result in Gloucester being required to manage its stormwater through a dedicated treatment program. The United States Environmental Protection Agency is studying potential changes to federal stormwater regulations for coastal communities. This, along with the results of the 2010 U.S. Census, has the potential to redefine Gloucester as a more urban or highly populated locality, which would require additional investment in stormwater infrastructure. The Chesapeake Bay TMDL and recently-adopted Virginia state stormwater regulations could also result in changes to how the County will have to manage its stormwater system. Coastal Resources Management Coastal ecosystems reside at the interface between the land and water and are naturally very complex. They perform a vast array of functions, including shoreline stabilization, water quality protection, flood protection, and fish, wildlife, and plant habitat, all of which provide direct and indirect benefits to coastal communities like Gloucester County. Research on coastal ecosystem resource management has revealed that traditional resource management practices limit the ability of the coastal ecosystem to perform many of these essential functions. The loss of these services has already been noted throughout coastal communities in Virginia as a result of development in coastal areas coupled with common erosion control practices. For example, beaches and dunes are diminishing due to a reduction in a natural sediment supply. Also, wetlands are drowning in place due to the combination of sea level rise and barriers to inland migration resulting from the construction of bulkheads and revetments. Continued armoring of shorelines and development in coastal areas threatens the long-term sustainability of coastal ecosystems adapting to sea level rise. In response, the General Assembly has designated “living shorelines” as the preferred alternative for shoreline stabilization in Virginia’s coastal areas. The term living shoreline encompasses a full spectrum of design options appropriate for various wave energy settings and erosion problems; they range from marsh plantings to the use of rock sills in combination with beach nourishment. These approaches combat shoreline erosion, minimize impacts to the natural coastal ecosystem, and reinforce the principal that an integrated approach for managing tidal shorelines enhances the probability that the resources will be sustained. Therefore, local governments should adopt the guidance and practices recommended by VIMS to ensure that functions performed by coastal ecosystems will
  • 33. Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 33 be preserved and the benefits derived by humans from coastal ecosystems will be maintained into the future. The guidance developed by VIMS recommends: - utilizing VIMS Decision Trees to review and select appropriate erosion control and shoreline management practices12 - adopting these shoreline best management practices as the recommended approach and requiring justification by applicants seeking to use another approach - training local staff on these decision-making tools - making local policies consistent with the general permit being developed by VMRC - educating citizens and stakeholders on the benefits of living shorelines - evaluating and considering a locality-wide permit to promote living shorelines - considering preserving available open spaces adjacent to marshlands to allow for inland retreat in response to sea level rise - evaluating and considering cost share opportunities for construction of living shorelines Sea Level Rise The Hampton Roads region is highly vulnerable to damages from storm surge and potential sea level rise. Much of the region is relatively flat and low-lying, which allows storms to push ashore and flood large areas. While related, vulnerability to these two hazards creates different sets of risk for Gloucester County. Storm surge vulnerability impacts the County now. A significant part of the County lying east of Route 17 lies in a Category 1, 2, 3, or 4 Storm Surge Area, as shown in Table NENR-36. The most vulnerable areas of the County are found 12 More information on the VIMS Decision Trees is available on the website for the Center for Coastal Resources Management at http://ccrm.vims.edu/decisiontree/index.html along Mobjack Bay and include Jenkins Neck, Maryus, Severn, Achilles, Bena, Perrin, Robins Neck, Glass, Dutton, Ware Neck, White Marsh and portions of Gloucester Point. This is illustrated on Map NR-1317. Table NENR-36: Area Vulnerable to Storm Surge in Gloucester County (Areas are cumulative) STORM SURGE CATEGORY AREA (ACRES) 1 21,476 2 35,518 3 40,254 4 43,904 Source: Hampton Roads Planning District Commission Hurricanes and other storms can cause significant damage to buildings. Tidal and surge flooding is limited to coastal areas. In addition to impacts on structures, these storms can have significant impacts on the natural environment. Storms can erode beaches and blow down trees and other vegetation. Many of the most critical environmental areas in Hampton Roads are located in areas that could be affected by storm surge. For example, an analysis by the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission calculated the amount of green infrastructure in the region that is vulnerable to a Category 1 storm surge at approximately 84,000 acres, or 16.5% of the region’s entire green infrastructure network. Sea level rise could potentially result in the inundation or severe erosion of a significant part of eastern Gloucester County, as shown on Map NR-1417. Global sea level rise is the result of melting ice, which adds to the amount of water in the oceans, as well as the warming of the oceans, which results in their thermal expansion. At the local scale, sea level rise is a combination of global sea level rise, local and regional currents, and the vertical movement of
  • 34. 34 Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 land. Gloucester, like much of Hampton Roads and eastern Virginia, is sinking, or subsiding, due to several geological processes. The end result is that the entire region is experiencing significant local sea level rise. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the long-term trend of sea level rise at the Gloucester Point/Yorktown Tide Station is about 0.15 mminches/year, or approximately 1.25 feet every 100 years. However, climate change is projected to increase the rate of global sea level rise, which could result in much higher rates of sea level rise experienced in Gloucester and across Hampton Roads. Current projections of global sea level rise by the end of the 21st century range from about half a meter to two meters, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.13 Surface Water Quality Point Source Pollution Point source pollution is a major source of surface water quality issues. Point sources of pollution include municipal and industrial dischargers and individual waste treatment systems. The Clean Water Act requires wastewater dischargers to have a permit establishing pollution limits and specifying monitoring and reporting requirements. National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits regulate household and industrial wastes that are collected in sewers and treated at municipal wastewater treatment plants. Permits also regulate industrial point sources and concentrated animal feeding operations that discharge into other wastewater collection systems or that discharge directly into receiving waters. The types of 13 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineering Circular 1165-2-212, “Sea-Level Change Considerations for Civil Works Programs” pollutants regulated include conventional pollutants (human wastes, food from sink disposals, laundry and bath waters), toxic pollutants (organics and metals), and nonconventional pollutants, (such as nitrogen and phosphorus), that may require regulation. In Virginia, NPDES permits are administered by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and are identified as Virginia Pollution Discharge Elimination System (VPDES) Permits. According to data from DEQ, there are four current holders of VPDES permits in Gloucester County. Thirteen Hampton Roads localities, including Gloucester County, are currently under a Special Order by Consent with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) concerning sanitary sewer overflows. The Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD) has separately entered into a Consent Decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This consent order is the result of the U. S. EPA’s expanded enforcement priorities, which target sanitary sewer systems serving populations over 1 million. This Consent Order requires local and regional wastewater utilities to assess and test their conveyance systems for failures and capacity related issues, making necessary replacements and system enhancements. The affected Hampton Roads localities and HRSD are working together in this compliance effort, which will result in a Regional Wet Weather Management Plan that will guide prioritization and investment in larger scale projects. The Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) contains information about more than 650 toxic chemicals that are being used, manufactured, treated, transported or released into the environment. Hazardous waste information is
  • 35. Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 35 contained in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Information System (RCRIS), a national program management and inventory system about hazardous waste handlers. In general, all entities that generate, transport, treat, store, and dispose of hazardous wastes are required to provide information about their activities to state environmental agencies. According to the EPA, there were no TRI permit holders in Gloucester in 20102011, the latest year for which data is available. EPA’s Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Information (RCRAInfo) database lists 46 48 RCRIS permit holders in Gloucester as of October 2011June 2013. Both RCRAInfo and VPDES permit holders are listed in Table NENR-67. The release of hazardous materials at designated hazardous material facilities on major transportation routes within the County poses potential threat to both surface water and groundwater resources. Gloucester County has established a Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) to address this threat. In addition to the benefits to public safety, the LEPC works to reduce the threat of surface water and groundwater contamination through quick response to transportation accidents and release of hazardous materials. Non-Point Source Pollution Non-point sources, which have the most significant impact on surface water quality in Gloucester County, encompass all those inputs to surface water that cannot be identified as having originated from a distinct discharge point. These include stormwater runoff from agriculture, urban or forested land surfaces; atmospheric inputs; solid waste disposal; land application of sludge and wastewater; septic tanks; dredging; development/construction material spills and leaks; marinas, and shipyards, as well as impacts from the natural environment such as weathering of soils which provides metals, acids, etc. These types of pollution are not readily quantified, although a relationship does exist with the amount of precipitation. More precipitation produces more runoff and thus a greater non-point source impact. In Gloucester County, agricultural runoff, residential septic system discharges, stormwater runoff, or marina discharges are generally linked to the condemnation of shellfish grounds due to non- point source pollution. Many of the same sources affecting surface water quality impacts also have the potential to impact groundwater resources.
  • 36. 36 Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 Table NENR-67: Gloucester County Potential Sources of Pollution PERMIT TYPE FACILITY LOCATION RCRA 7-11 #10848 - Rt 17 & 641 Gloucester Point RCRA 7-11 #19634 – Route 17 North Gloucester RCRA 7-11 #20570 Glenns RCRA Advanced Finishing, Inc. Hayes RCRA Borden Chemical Gloucester RCRA Cleo Huskeys Body Shop Hayes RCRA Colony Metalsmiths, Inc. Hayes RCRA Control Products USA Hayes RCRA East Coast Oil #54 Gloucester Point RCRA East Coast Oil #74 Gloucester RCRA Farm Fresh #6290 Hayes RCRA Fast Fare Inc. Hayes RCRA Ferguson Enterprises, Inc. Ordinary RCRA Glass Marine, Inc. Hayes RCRA Gloucester Auto Body Repair Hayes RCRA Gloucester Convenient Care Hayes RCRA Gloucester County Public Schools Gloucester RCRA Gloucester Laundry And Cleaners Gloucester RCRA Gloucester Lumber Products, Inc. Gloucester RCRA Green Gates Gifts Gloucester Point RCRA Gunns Body Shop, Inc. Gloucester RCRA Home Depot #4650 Gloucester RCRA Hudgins Bill Olds Pontiac GMC Gloucester RCRA Industrial Resource Tech, Inc. Gloucester RCRA Industrial Resource Tech, Inc. Gloucester RCRA Jordan Marine Service, Inc. Gloucester Point RCRA Ken Houtz Chevrolet Buick Gloucester RCRA Mega Contractors, Inc. Glenns RCRA Merchant’s LLC #420 Gloucester RCRA Merlin Auto Machine Hayes RCRA Mid-County Center Gloucester RCRA Middle Peninsula Landfill Glenns RCRA Middle Peninsula Landfill Hayes RCRA Quinn Motors Gloucester RCRA Rappahannock Community College Glenns RCRA Riverside Walter Reed Hospital Gloucester RCRA Southern States Gloucester RCRA Southern States Gloucester RCRA Star Metal Finishing, Inc. Hayes RCRA Star Metal Finishing, Inc. Hayes
  • 37. Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 37 PERMIT TYPE FACILITY LOCATION RCRA Tidewater Newspaper, Inc. Gloucester RCRA VIMSVirginia Institute of Marine Science Gloucester Point RCRA VEPCO Gloucester RCRA Wal-Mart #1759 Gloucester RCRA Wal-Mart Supercenter #1759 Gloucester RCRA Waste Management Gloucester High Gloucester RCRA Wawa Food Market #652 Hayes RCRA York River Yatch Haven Gloucester Point VPDES Gloucester County Wastewater Water Treatment Plant Gloucester VPDES Gloucester Lumber Products Inc. - Dutton Gloucester VPDES Rappahannock Community College – Glenns Campus Glenns VPDES VIMS Toxicology LaboratoriesGloucester Point Gloucester Point Source: DEQ; EPA Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Info Impaired Waters The most recent Virginia Water Quality Assessment, published in 2010, identifies several types of water quality problems in Gloucester County’s waterways, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and mercury in fish tissue, dissolved oxygen, E. coli, and fecal coliform contamination. DEQ’s 2010 305(b)/303(d) Water Quality Assessment Integrated Report for Virginia shows impairments for shellfishing, fish consumption, aquatic life, and recreation (Table NENR-78). Of particular concern in Gloucester is the number of shellfish condemnations due to the presence of fecal coliform bacteria. These closures affect numerous creeks throughout the County. In addition, due to PCBs found in fish tissue, a fish consumption advisory has been issued for the main stems of both the Chesapeake Bay and the York River. The most recent draft of the 2012 report is available by accessing the Department of Environmental Quality’s website.Department of Environmental Quality’s website.14 14 http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/Wat Total Maximum Daily Loads The Commonwealth of Virginia has set a goal for all streams to support beneficial uses, which include primary contact/swimming, fishing, shellfishing, drinking water, and aquatic life. In order to achieve this goal, the state is responding to mandates from the Environmental Protection Agency by developing Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), or “pollution diets”, for impaired waterways. TMDLs specify a given amount of a pollutant that can be put into a water body on an annual basis. A TMDL Study identifies sources of pollution and reductions needed from the identified pollutants to attain water quality standards. Pollution from both point sources such as residential, municipal, or industrial discharges and non-point sources such as residential, urban, or agricultural runoff are included in the TMDL study (DEQ, 2010). erQualityInformationTMDLs/WaterQualityAssess ments.aspx
  • 38. 38 Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has completed seven TMDLs for Gloucester County as of March 2010. These address water quality impairments in the following waterways: • Browns Bay and Monday Creek • North River • Severn River Watershed • Ware River Watershed • Poropotank River and Adams Creek • Sarah Creek and Upper Perrin River • York River shellfish waters (growing area 47) Implementation plans need to be developed for each of these TMDLs to produce improved water quality, and additional TMDLs are planned to address other impaired waterways in the County. Gloucester County will continue to support this process and assist in effectively implementing these plans to improve water quality. Chesapeake Bay-Wide TMDLs Because the water quality goals set forth in the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement were not met by 2010, and because impaired segments of the Chesapeake Bay remain on the states' Clean Water Act section 303(d) lists, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency established a Total Maximum Daily Load for nutrients and sediment for the entire Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries. The final version of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL was released in December 2010, and Virginia submitted its completed Phase II Watershed Implementation Plan to EPA in March 2012. (http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/vabaytmdl) The TMDL assigns nutrient allocations for nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediments by major river basin; because these allocations are currently exceeded, reductions will be required. Gloucester is located in the York River and Chesapeake Bay Coastal basins. Virginia, based on the Chesapeake Bay TMDL allocations, has assigned allocations and prescribes reductions in its Phase I Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) by sector: agriculture, atmospheric deposition, forest, septic systems, urban areas, and wastewater. The state also assigns theses allocations by segment sheds, or sub-basins. Virginia will issue its Phase II WIP in March 2012 that will include allocations by locality and propose strategies to meet those allocations. Implementing the Chesapeake Bay TMDL has the potential to impose significant costs on the County. Most of the reductions (60%) will have to be met by 2017, with the rest by 2025. Significant requirements will be placed on new development and redevelopment, in the form of reductions in nutrient loads or required steps to eliminate load increases beyond the designated undeveloped standard. Agricultural lands will have to reduce their loads through increased use of agricultural best management practices (BMPs). Developing management plans for reducing its nutrient loads across all sectors will be a major responsibility for Gloucester County over the life of the TMDL.
  • 39. Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 39 TABLE NENR-78: Water Body Segments Not Meeting Quality Standards WATERBODY USE NOT BEING MET IMPAIRMENT Lower York River Aquatic Life Aquatic Plants (Macrophytes) Mobjack Bay Aquatic Life Aquatic Plants (Macrophytes) Piankatank Mesohaline Estuary Aquatic Life Aquatic Plants (Macrophytes) York Mesohaline Aquatic Life Aquatic Plants (Macrophytes) Unnamed Tributary to Bland Creek Aquatic Life Benthic-Macroinvertebrates Crany Creek Aquatic Life Dissolved Oxygen Dragon Swamp Aquatic Life Dissolved Oxygen Fox Mill Run Aquatic Life Dissolved Oxygen Fox Mill Run, UT Aquatic Life Dissolved Oxygen Lower York River Aquatic Life Dissolved Oxygen Mobjack Bay Aquatic Life Dissolved Oxygen Northwest Branch Severn River Aquatic Life Dissolved Oxygen Piankatank Mesohaline Estuary Aquatic Life Dissolved Oxygen York Mesohaline Aquatic Life Dissolved Oxygen Lower York River Aquatic Life Estuarine Bioassessments Dragon Swamp/Piankatank River Fish Consumption Mercury in Fish Tissue Chesapeake Bay Mainstem & Tidal Tributaries Fish Consumption PCB in Fish Tissue York River Mainstem Fish Consumption PCB in Fish Tissue Burke Mill Stream Recreation E. coli Crany Creek Recreation E. coli Fox Mill Run Recreation E. coli Northwest Branch Severn River, UT Recreation E. coli Ferry Creek Recreation Enterococcus Harpers Creek Recreation Enterococcus Northwest Branch Severn River Recreation Enterococcus, E. coli Aberdeen Creek - Upper Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Adams Creek Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Back Creek Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Belleville Creek Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Carter Creek - Middle Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Carter Creek - Upper Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Cedarbush Creek - Mouth Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Cedarbush Creek - Upper Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Dancing Creek Shellfishing Fecal Coliform
  • 40. 40 Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 WATERBODY USE NOT BEING MET IMPAIRMENT Davis Creek Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Elmington Creek Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Elmington Creek Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Ferry Creek Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Free School Creek Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Frenchs Creek Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Heywood Creek Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Jones Creek Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Morris Bay Shellfishing Fecal Coliform North River Shellfishing Fecal Coliform North River Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Northwest Branch Severn River Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Northwest Branch Severn River/Vaughns Creek Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Perrin River Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Piankatank River, UT Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Piankatank River/Harpers Creek Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Piankatank River/Harpers Creek Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Poropotank River Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Purtan and Leigh Creeks Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Sarah Creek - Western Branch, Upper Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Sarah Creek, Western Branch and Eastern Branch, Upper Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Thorntons Creek Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Timberneck Creek - Upper Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Ware River Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Ware River/Fox Mill Run Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Wilson Creek Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Wilson Creek Shellfishing Fecal Coliform Source: DEQ, 305(b)/303(d) Water Quality Assessment Integrated Report for Virginia, 2010
  • 41. Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 41 Groundwater Protection In Gloucester County, the unconfined aquifer is the Columbia Aquifer. In the context of potable drinking water supplies, the Columbia Aquifer is not the aquifer of choice due to relatively low yields, poor water quality, and the propensity for groundwater contamination. Some older homes, however, may still rely on the Columbia aquifer for consumptive use. Groundwater contained in the upper confined aquifers is a much better choice for drinking water than the Columbia Aquifer. The Aquia and Potomac aquifers in Gloucester are likely to contain brackish water that requires desalination to make it potable. The Yorktown-Eastover and Piney Point aquifers are the best groundwater resources available in the county. The USGS study of domestic water use estimated that 94% of wells serving individual homes or businesses in Gloucester are in the Yorktown-Eastover aquifer or confining zone and 6% are in the Piney Point aquifer. The total domestic use is approximately 1.87 million gallons per day. Based on a review of literature and DEQ records, there are seven high priority threats to groundwater in Southeastern Virginia. These are (1) inefficient septic systems; (2) leaky underground storage tanks; (3) spills and improper disposal of hazardous materials; (4) leaky surface waste impoundments: (5) leaky landfills; (6) improper pesticide and fertilizer applications; and (7) pumping induced saltwater encroachment. Local Groundwater Protection Decisions made by local governments have the greatest potential to impact groundwater quality. Developing a groundwater management plan that incorporates community-specific goals and locally appropriate management techniques and reflects local groundwater protection needs is a key step in creating an effective groundwater protection program. Several management techniques should be combined to maximize effectiveness and minimize costs. The Ground Water Protection Handbook for Southeastern Virginia (1990) prepared by the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (formerly the Southeastern Virginia Planning District Commission) provides local guidance for developing a groundwater management plan. Some steps that Gloucester County has already taken to minimize negative impacts on groundwater resources involve septic systems. Traditional septic tanks are only allowed in areas where soils allow those systems to percolate; they are not allowed in areas with hydric soils, for instance, which include many of the County’s Chesapeake Bay Resource Protection Areas. Minimum drain fields are also required for septic system use. However, these soil-based regulations do not apply to engineered alternative onsite sewage systems (AOSS). The County’s Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Ordinance is of particular importance in protecting groundwater quality. This ordinance requires mitigation measures, including best management practices, vegetative buffers, protection of sensitive environmental resources, and limitations on impervious cover, on all development sites. These measures help to protect both surface and groundwater from pollution, and also better enable water to percolate through the soil to groundwater.
  • 42. 42 Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 In 2009, the Department of Environmental Quality began considering expansion of the Groundwater Management Areas. Gloucester is in the proposed expansion area. Section 9 VAC2 5-600-20 would have to be amended to add more localities to the groundwater management program. Within Groundwater Management Areas, withdrawals over 300,000 gallons per month (e.g. large industrial users such as paper mills, nurseries, or golf courses) require a permit from DEQ. The state reviews requests for withdrawals. It considers many factors including whether or not there is enough groundwater available to meet the request and if the withdrawal amount is justified by beneficial uses. The groundwater withdrawal permit fee is $6,000 and the term of the permit is ten years. Potential Groundwater Pollution Sources Defective Septic Systems On-site sewage disposal systems, if improperly designed, installed or poorly maintained, can pose threats to surface water and groundwater supplies. Pesticides, herbicides, household cleaning products, and septic tank cleaning products can enter groundwater systems through septic systems. Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus dissolved in wastewater can also negatively impact the water quality of adjacent surface waters. The County’s Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Ordinance requires that all conventional on-site sewage disposal systems be pumped-out at least once every five years. The County’s Department of Codes Compliance coordinates monthly with local septic system contractors to maintain a database of all septic systems that have been pumped out. Notices are sent to those that have not pumped out their systems within the five-year period from the start of the database. The County holds periodic workshops regarding septic tank maintenance and has included a section explaining the need to pump out septic tanks in its “Natural Resource Map and Assistance Guide” published in January 1999. The County also requires primary and reserve drain fields areas outside the RPA on all new lots and a reserve location on prior recorded lots where an acceptable percolation site is available. Problems with failing septic systems have been documented by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) during shoreline sanitary surveys. Failing septic systems are of particular concern in the lower eastern quadrant of the County where hydric soils and tidal and non-tidal wetlands prevail on developed properties. The Three Rivers Health District of the VDH has committed additional personnel to address the problems of failing septic systems documented during the shoreline surveys. A database has been designed to track violations and VDH is actively involved in instituting corrective measures, either through enforcement or by facilitating septic repair through a cooperative effort with agencies offering financial assistance through grants or low interest loans. One element not addressed in these shoreline surveys is the number of properties that lack indoor facilities. Homes that rely on “pit” or “vault” privies (outhouses) are not cited unless the privy is unusable or is expressing sewage onto the ground surface. Gloucester County’s Commissioner of Revenue office estimates there are approximately 13,700 homes on private septic systems. According to the VDH staff in Gloucester County, the approximate failure rate of septic systems in the County is estimated at ten to fifteen
  • 43. Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 43 percent (10-15%) with a replacement rate of approximately every twenty (20) years. In July 2000, the state implemented new regulations governing the installation of sewage disposal systems (12 VAC 5-610). These regulations shift attention from mere disposal of household water effluent to treatment and protection of groundwater resources. One major change is that the repair of existing septic systems must comply to the greatest extent possible with the new regulations, not just merely replace what currently exists. Because of the soil types encountered in the southeast portion of the County, most repairs will need engineered systems that provide secondary treatment of sewage effluent prior to disposal. Due to the economic level of many of the residents in the affected areas, the higher cost of the technology required is not easily attainable. These regulations also may permit the use of pre-treatment systems where, under the previous regulations, they may not have been permitted. In addition to the economic issue, these engineered systems require continued maintenance in order to be effective. If properly installed and maintained, pre- treatment systems are very effective. However, without proper maintenance, these systems may result in the discharge of unacceptable effluent into surface and groundwater resources. Continued maintenance of pre- treatment systems is an important issue to be addressed. In 2006 the County revised its ordinance to require any new lot less than two (2) acres in size to connect to public water and sewer. This was done to reduce the County’s susceptibility to failing septic systems on smaller lots. In June 2011, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) adopted new regulations for alternative onsite sewage systems (AOSS), or engineered septic systems; these regulations took effect on December 7, 2011. Alternative onsite sewage systems are treatment systems that do not result in point source discharges. These new systems do not require drain fields or need to percolate like conventional septic systems. They can be installed and used in areas with soil conditions that would not support conventional systems. State law allows for the installation of these systems under a general permit without the need for a specific VDH permit. However, the regulations contain specific requirements for the operation and maintenance of these systems, including responsibilities for system owners.15 These responsibilities include: 1) Maintaining a relationship with an operator 2) Having the AOSS operated and maintained by an operator 3) Having an operator visit the AOSS at the required frequency 4) Having an operator collect any required samples 5) Keeping a copy of the log provided by the operator on the property where the AOSS is located, making the log available to VDH upon request, and making a reasonable effort to transfer the log to any future owner 6) Keeping a copy of the Operation and Maintenance Manual for the AOSS on the property where the AOSS is located, making the manual available to VDH upon request, and making a reasonable effort to transfer the O&M Manual to any future owner 7) Complying with the onsite sewage system requirements contained in local ordinances adopted pursuant to the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act and the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act Designation and Management Regulations when an AOSS is 15 12VAC5-613-140
  • 44. 44 Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 located within a Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area. The regulations also specify setback requirements for drinking water sources, shellfish waters, sinkholes, and wetlands. In general, AOSS must be tested every five years by a certified operator. This new development potentially opens up large areas of the county to residential development where previously it was not possible due to septic system restrictions. Map NENR-15 19 shows which areas of the County, as surveyed by the NRCS, have limited favorability for the installation, use, and maintenance of conventional septic tanks. This favorability is determined by a number of factors, including depth to water table, depth to bedrock, soil permeability, subsidence rates, and slope. Leaking Underground Storage Tanks Leaking above and underground storage tanks can be a significant source of pollution. These storage tanks contain hazardous substances, such as petroleum, gasoline, diesel fuel, acetone, or kerosene. Over time, underground storage tanks can corrode and begin to leak. If a storage tank is leaking, the surrounding soil can become contaminated. In addition, the shallow groundwater aquifer may become contaminated. Once contaminants enter the shallow groundwater aquifer, they can be transported into local waterways. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is charged with regulating underground storage tanks in Virginia. DEQ annually receives federal funds to clean up leaking underground storage tanks (LUSTs). To prevent leaks from developing in the future, LUST regulations required that after December 22, 1998, all new tanks be made of non-corrodible materials and be equipped with overfill and spill prevention devices. Tanks in existence prior to that date were required to be replaced or retrofitted to meet the new standards by the deadline. Tanks are also required to possess leak prevention devices and monitoring equipment to help detect leaks. Underground storage tank regulations do not apply to residential underground storage tanks. DEQ’s database lists 88 96 Petroleum Release Clean-up sites in Gloucester County in September June 20112013. Six of these release files are still open. As may be expected, concentrations of leaking underground storage tanks are found in the Gloucester Courthouse area, and in the Gloucester Point area along Route 17 from Hayes to the Point. Smaller concentrations (three to four instances) were found in the White Marsh and Glenns areas of the County. Aboveground and underground petroleum storage tanks used for business purposes are now subject to regulatory requirements for preventive measures designed to reduce the likelihood that the tanks will leak. The Gloucester County Department of Codes Compliance, Building Inspection Office will continue to work with the state to implement its UST and LUST permitting, monitoring and inspection program for the removal and installation of underground storage tanks. Solid Waste Management Facilities Gloucester County has three state regulated solid waste management facilities. The Gloucester County landfill, located on the east side of Route 17 south of the Courthouse area and behind the shopping center north of Beehive Drive, was permitted in 1972 and closed in 1994. The landfill has been capped
  • 45. Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 45 and meets all state and federal post-closure requirements. The Middle Peninsula Landfill and Recycling Center, located off of Route 17 in Adner, is permitted under state regulations as an active landfill, transfer station, and yard waste composting facility. Industrial Resources Technologies, located within the County’s Industrial park, is permitted as a materials recovery facility for toner and recycling products. Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality lists this site in compliance with all procedural requirements. In addition to the landfill, Waste Management operates five waste disposal convenience centers within the County: • Adner-Glenns (3741 Waste Management Way) • Belroi (5122 Hickory Fork Road) • Courthouse (6550 Beehive Drive) • Dutton (10430 Burkes Pond Road) • Hayes (7599 Guinea Road) These centers are available to County residents and businesses for waste disposal and recycling. Gloucester County’s Clean Community Program sponsors a harmful household waste collection through Waste Management twice per year. Collection and proper disposal of hazardous household wastes such as pesticides and solvents reduce the potential for these wastes to be improperly discarded and potentially impact water resources. Gloucester’s solid waste management facilities are shown on Map NE-16CF-5. Land Conversion and Use Conflicts Gloucester continues to experience population growth and residential development, faster than any other locality on the Middle Peninsula. Much of this growth is tied to the County’s connection to the greater Hampton Roads region and the economic opportunities it provides. With this growth comes pressure to build on currently undeveloped lands, including agricultural or forestry lands as well as natural areas. Part of Gloucester County’s identity comes from its connections to agriculture and the waters of the York River and the Chesapeake Bay. The conversion and loss of working lands to residential development is a concern for the County as it continues to grow and become more tied to the rest of Hampton Roads. In addition, residential development can result in use conflicts between homeowners and agriculture or forestry interests. Developing a comprehensive policy to address and mitigate land use conflicts may be an effective way to promote development that complements the County’s environmental protection goals. Preserving lands in their natural states or as working lands can have many practical benefits. Designating areas as working lands can help to preserve important parts of the local economy and culture that focus on agriculture, forestry, and water industries. These sectors provide jobs to Gloucester residents and maintain a connection to the County’s history and rural character. One potential option for helping to preserve these areas and industries is through agritourism. Ecotourism and cultural and historic tourism are also opportunity to achieve economic benefits from protecting our natural and cultural resources. This would promote the County’s agricultural and water resources as historical and cultural assets, while also enhancing their economic potential. Preserving agricultural lands can also have environmental benefits.
  • 46. 46 Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 Goals Objectives Implementation Strategies Short Term Long Term Preserve Gloucester’s rural character Encourage growth away from areas such as farms and other working lands Zone for increased density and development in development district and Village Areas Identify areas that should be protected as working lands and zone them accordingly Maintain Agricultural Zoning for Working Lands and Develop a Working Waterfront Zoning District Consider the creation of a Transfer of Development (TDR) program or Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) program to provide incentives to preserve working lands Initiate a study to determine appropriate transfer and receiving areas as well as determine incentives and a process for use of TDR or PDR Allow working lands as part of the open space requirement for cluster developments Modify the Zoning Ordinance related to conservation subdivisions Consider the creation of a Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements program to provide incentives to preserve working lands Work with local land trusts and state agencies to encourage Conservation Easements Encourage new forms of agriculture and natural resources-based businesses such as agri-tourism Modify Zoning Ordinances to encourage and support natural resource based businesses Promote and provide support for natural resource based businesses for both local business and tourism based Encourage development in areas where public utilities such as water and sewer are provided Zone for increased density and development in development district and Village Areas Develop incentives for connection to public water and sewer
  • 47. Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 47 Goals Objectives Implementation Strategies Short Term Long Term Protect and Improve Water Quality Restore the quality of Gloucester’s surface waters to meet standards for swimming, shellfish harvesting, and other uses Work with the State to Ddevelop TMDLs for impaired waterways Develop Work with the State to develop TMDL implementation plans for impaired waterways to reduce current excess nutrient loads and offset future loads Implement water quality BMPs on public riparian properties Encourage the implementation of water quality BMPs on private property Work with state and regional agencies to educate farmers and residents about and encourage the use of agricultural and other best management practices, nutrient management planning, and available state and federal cost-share programs Partner with other agencies to inform and educate the community Provide continued information and education during staff interaction with the public Work withSupport state and regional agencies to that educate farmers and residents about proper fertilizer and pesticide use and efficient irrigation and watering practices to protect surface and groundwater resources Continue to support agencies that provide these resources for the community such as Cooperative Extension and Tidewater Soil and Conservation District Utilize a growth management strategy to protect groundwater recharge areas and surface water sources Identify appropriate groundwater protection areas Identify appropriate buffers for the protection of surface water sources Implement low-density zoning near groundwater recharge areas and surface water sources
  • 48. 48 Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 Goals Objectives Implementation Strategies Short Term Long Term Work with the Virginia Department of Health and other agencies to address issues with failing septic systems and their replacement through alternative designs or connections to the County’s sewer system Support and promote low cost loan and replacement grants offered by other agencies and non-profit groups Continue to seek enabling legislation from the General Assemble to allow the county to require mandatory connections to public water and sewer if the county invests in extension of the system to address failing septic systems Work with the Virginia Department of Health and other agencies to educate residents about the importance of maintaining septic systems, both conventional and alternative Continue educational outreach regarding septic maintenance through multimedia approach and through staff interaction during permitting and inspection. Consider the use of impaired water bodies as the basis for watershed management planning to improve water quality based on the source of the impairment Participate in the state’s preparation of Implementation Plans for local impaired water bodies Coordinate land use plans and development proposals with recommendations found in TMDL implementation plans Consider water quality benefits when deciding when and where to extend public water and sewer infrastructure Coordinate with VDH to identify areas most susceptible to failing septic systems Develop a cost-benefit analysis tool to determine the effectiveness of extending public utilities and the costs to the environment and the economy of impaired water bodies
  • 49. Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 49 Goals Objectives Implementation Strategies Short Term Long Term Consider impacts to water quality caused by private and public development decisions, including capital project and public improvements Ensure compliance with the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance on all projects Encourage or require nutrient management plans for agricultural and land-based uses (such as athletic fields, golf courses, parks, etc.) Support and promote educational efforts of regional agencies such as TWSCD Develop Nutrient Management Plans for public properties Encourage developers to provide nutrient management plans and maintenance on private developments Consider the adoption of a Clean Marina program Support and promote participation in the state’s program Identify areas as appropriate for designation as “No Discharge” zones Explore the possibility and requirements to establish “No Discharge Zones” Develop the process for designation and evaluate the resources needed to implement “No Discharge” zones Continue to work with the state to register existing and proposed underground storage tanks and identify leaking tanks through the building permit process Maintain active database of UST and enforce corrective action on Leaking UST Designate watershed management areas and consider impacts to watersheds when reviewing development proposals Develop Watershed Management Plans for each watershed in the County
  • 50. 50 Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 Goals Objectives Implementation Strategies Short Term Long Term Monitor the location and effectiveness of stormwater Best Management Practices to implement the County’s Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load Watershed Implementation Plan Inventory existing BMP’s in the County Develop and maintain a database of BMP Monitor the effectiveness of the existing BMPs Monitor and enforce long term maintenance of BMPs Protect Air Quality Promote alternative modes of transportation such as walking, bicycling, and carpooling to reduce congestion and automobile emissions Allow and encourage pedestrian scale development in Village Areas Encourage carpooling through maintenance of park and ride lots Support local carpooling and transit providing agencies Promote and enforce local and state burning ordinances Encourage the preservation of existing tree canopy on new developments and redevelopments Evaluate and modify local ordinance to provide for tree protection and canopy cover Provide incentives for tree preservation Encourage the planting of trees and native vegetation on public and private property Coordinate with state and regional agencies to identify appropriate native plants Provide incentives for use of native species in new developments Conserve and manage Gloucester’s natural resources
  • 51. Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 51 Goals Objectives Implementation Strategies Short Term Long Term Consistently and effectively enforce and implement the Zoning, Subdivision, Erosion and Sediment Control, Wetlands, Floodplain, and Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinances Review and modify development ordinances for effectiveness and efficiency Update the County’s ordinances as appropriate to comply with state laws and regulations Continue to process development applications such that the early identification of wetlands in the development process is ensured Use available on-line resources to determine the potential for wetlands Work with local, state and federal agencies to evaluate properties for potential impacts and design developments to reduce impacts where possible Work withSupport the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation to in conduct ing additional natural heritage and habitat planning studies of the County’s natural resources Consider impacts to natural heritage features and species in future planning efforts Protect wetlands and other natural resources from unnecessary destruction due to drainage, filling, or construction that would unnecessarily hamper or destroy vegetation, water storage, erosion control, or plant and wildlife habitats Work with developers and other agencies to design projects to minimize impacts Prepare a Countywide open space and natural resources inventory and evaluation as a baseline for an open space plan, which would guide the County’s land use, preservation, and infrastructure decisions Develop a green-infrastructure plan for the county or for various regions within the county
  • 52. 52 Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 Goals Objectives Implementation Strategies Short Term Long Term Protect and preserve open space through ordinances and policies Consider requiringDevelop incentives for Cluster Zoningcluster development in areas zoned used for agriculture or conservation lands Consider the use of a Conservation Zoning ordinance to require critical natural resource features to be preserved during development Create a Green infrastructure plan identifying open spaces and potential connections Review Ordinances to better define “open space” and provide appropriate protection based on the use of the open space as buffers, natural habitat or recreation areas Consider adopting a Transfer of Development Rights program that would incentivize development away from ecologically valuable areas Consider adopting a Purchase of Development Rights program that would incentivize development away from ecologically valuable areas Cluster zoning Consider the use of local programsEvaluate opportunities to educate residents about the benefits of preserving and protecting natural resources Promote and support local and regional opportunities and agencies that inform residents about the local environment and the benefits provided by natural resources
  • 53. Gloucester County Comprehensive Plan 2013 53 Goals Objectives Implementation Strategies Short Term Long Term Promote public awareness and community participation in natural resources protection through educational programs and events Continue collaborative educational efforts and events in the county and look for opportunities for new events and programs that promote the county’s abundant natural resources Identify appropriate sites for public waterfront access and boating facilities and preserve those that exist Inventory existing public access sites and identify their current and potential uses Work with the Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority, FEMA and other agencies to identify new site for public access Develop management plans for open space and public access parcels Develop a county policy for acquiring new sites through dedication, donation or acquistion