2016 NGWA Groundwater Summit

Managing Groundwater in Virginia's Coastal Plain: Actions and Initiatives Since 2007.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016: 11:10 a.m.
Confluence Ballroom B (The Westin Denver Downtown)
Craig Nicol , Division of Water Planning / Office of Water Supply, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Richmon, VA

Virginia continues to see declining groundwater levels, increase in chloride concentrations, land subsidence, well interference and loss of storage to its confined aquifers system in the Coastal Plain.  With over a hundred years of research and monitoring in Virginia, documented concerns and trends lead to well capping laws, the creation of a Ground Water Management Act and a regulatory framework for the establishment of management areas and permitting activities. However, 2010-2020 may be the most important decade for Virginia to decide on actions that result in long term sustainability of groundwater in the coastal plain aquifer system.    

Since 2007, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has been actively implementing goals developed through strategic planning to reduce current use, promote greater water conservation measures, increase hydrogeologic understanding and modeling capabilities that assist or promote innovative ways to manage groundwater in Virginia.    

To help meet these objectives the following actions have been taken since 2007:

  • Conducted a Peer Review

  • Expanded internal resources and associated budgets for characterization efforts through legislative amendments

  • Passed revised regulations and expanded a Groundwater Management Area  

  • Revised guidance documents and policies

  • Migrated the new Virginia Coastal Plain and Eastern Shore Models into use  and then  integrated with new geo-referenced content management system as VAHydro 

As a result of those initial actions VADEQ has now embarked on the next step, the Virginia Coastal Plain Groundwater Initiative. The initiative includes modeling activities to evaluate the optimization of proposed reductions, an investigation into the economic impacts associated with those proposed reductions and a 2015 legislative action resulting in the creation of the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Advisory Committee.  The Committee has been tasked with examining options for developing long-term alternative water sources and management structures along with other actions that may enhance the effectiveness of groundwater management.

Craig Nicol, Division of Water Planning / Office of Water Supply, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Richmon, VA
Craig Nicol holds an Associate of Science, B.S. in Environmental Science from Ferrum College and an M.A.L.S. from Hollins University. For the last 18 years as an employee of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality he has held roles of Inspector, Regional Compliance Manager for DEQ’s Blue Ridge Regional Office, Air Enforcement Manager for the Division of Enforcement, Groundwater Withdrawal Permitting Manager for the Division of Land Protection and Revitalization, and currently holds the position of Water Withdrawal Permitting and Compliance Manager for the Office of Water Supply within the Division of Water Planning. The primary responsibilities for this position are to coordinate permitting, compliance, and enforcement activities for surface water and groundwater withdrawal programs.