DEQ, Corps just shrug

Published 1:20 pm Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Dumpster runoff appears to be unregulated

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Isle of Wight has liquid discharge seeping from its dumpsters at the Jones Creek convenience center, but state and federal agencies say there’s no specific regulatory mechanism to address it.

Liquid seeping from a dumpster is not considered a stormwater issue, said Virginia Department of Environmental Quality spokesman Bill Hayden.

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Nor is DEQ concerned that this has been going on for some time due to the agency’s knowledge of the facts, Hayden said, adding that upon investigation, the county told the agency that it is addressing the issue.

It’s an unpermitted point source discharge, but there is no specific permit that addresses this type of situation, so “best management practices” — also known as a BMP — would need to be employed, Hayden said.  {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The Army Corps of Engineers lobbed the issue back to the state. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Patrick Bloodgood said point source discharges do not fall under its jurisdiction, and is instead an issue for DEQ.

However, if the construction of a retention pond were to impact jurisdictional wetlands, then Isle of Wight would need a federal permit, he added.

Isle of Wight Assistant County Administrator Don Robertson said staff are aware of the issue and are pursuing grant funding to address the dumpster runoff near Jones Creek. He said the county considers the Jones Creek discharge part of a larger issue.

(Another convenience center is located at the headwaters of the Pagan River and also does not have a retention pond.) 

Robertson said local stormwater funds have been used to perform a site survey and engineering work at Jones Creek, but if grant funding isn’t available for the project, more local money will be used.

Robertson said the project was sent out to bid about six months ago and a report on how the physical project will proceed was recently issued and is currently under review. Work on the project is expected to begin early next year, Robertson said.

That’s about as far as DEQ can take it at this point, Hayden said.

Neighboring property owner John Marshall said he brought the issue to the attention of county staffers years ago, and has recently become concerned that nothing has been done.

When it rains, water flows from the dumpsters into a culvert on Marshall’s property and into the marsh that borders Jones Creek, Marshall said.

“It’s contaminating all my marsh,” Marshall said, adding that he’s trying to sell his property and is concerned it will adversely affect its value.

Robertson said DEQ views the convenience centers a bit differently as they do not accept commercial waste, and therefore the waste is not considered hazardous.

However, the county needs to be proactive about addressing spills and each site is being equipped with a spill kit so attendants can clean up a problem as it occurs, he said.

When the convenience centers were built, there was no Virginia Stormwater Management Program in place and it’s not known if there was a discussion about possible run-off, Robertson said.

However, because Isle of Wight County no longer holds an MS4 permit, DEQ would not require Isle of Wight to construct a retention pond to deal with run-off, said Hayden.

An MS4 permit, which stands for municipal separate storm sewer system, is required for localities that operate a stormwater system. Isle of Wight recently terminated its permit because it does not operate such a facility.  {/mprestriction}