RD64 - Final Report of the Waste, Air and Water Program Funding Strategies

Executive Summary:
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is responsible for protecting Virginia’s environment. The DEQ is involved in monitoring and regulating activities related to air and water quality and waste management, and strives to reduce and prevent adverse environmental impacts.

In 2002 the General Assembly passed legislation (HB1257) authorizing the DEQ to triple permit application fees for waste and water permits. The tripled permit fees are authorized by statute through June 30, 2004. In addition to tripling permit fees, the General Assembly directed through item 376 of the 2002 Appropriations Act the Secretary of Natural Resources to work with stakeholders to develop a strategy to adequately fund the DEQ’s water and waste regulatory programs. This directive required the Secretary of Natural Resources to develop a funding strategy for the programs that will protect the public and maintain state primacy in environmental matters delegated to Virginia by the federal government. The following items were required to be considered when developing the plan: the likelihood of the agency receiving additional general fund resources for environmental activities; workloads in the various environmental regulatory programs; the use of technological advances to cut costs; and changes to federal environmental policies and funding practices. An interim report was presented to the General Assembly from the Secretary of Natural Resources in December 2002 that provided information on program staffing and funding, identified funding needs, and described funding options used by other states. At the direction of the Secretary of Natural Resources, the DEQ has continued to work with stakeholders using the information contained in the interim report to identify funding strategies.

This report identifies funding principles, program efficiencies, and funding strategies developed based on discussions during technical advisory committee meetings. This report also contains the DEQ’s recommendations for changing fee structures for the waste, air and water programs. The strategies presented in this report assume the level of general funding for the DEQ will remain constant at fiscal year 2004 levels, and that no additional general funds will be allocated to the agency to support permit programs. No increase in funding is anticipated to be received from the federal government to support permit programs.