Chesapeake Bay Protection
The Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act is intended to protect and improve the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay, its tributaries, and other state waters by minimizing the effects of human activity upon these waters. It provides for the definition and protection of certain lands called Chesapeake Bay Preservation Areas, which if improperly used may result in substantial damage to the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Chesapeake Bay Preservation Areas consist of a Resource Protection Area and a Resource Management Area.
For more information on how you can help protect the Chesapeake Bay and the local environment, visit our Helpful Information page.
Resource Protection Area (RPA)
A Resource Protection Area is comprised of Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area lands adjacent to water bodies with perennial flow that have an intrinsic water quality value due to the ecological and biological processes they perform or are sensitive to impacts which may result in significant degradation to the quality of state waters. In their natural condition, these lands provide for the removal, reduction or assimilation of sediments, nutrients and potentially harmful or toxic substances in runoff entering the bay and its tributaries, and minimize the adverse effects of human activities on state waters and aquatic resources. Resource Protection Areas include:
- Tidal wetlands;
- Nontidal wetlands connected by surface flow and contiguous to tidal wetlands or water bodies with perennial flow;
- Tidal shores;
- Other lands considered necessary to protect the quality of state waters; and
- A buffer area not less than 100 feet in width located adjacent to and landward of the components in the RPA, and along both sides of any water body with perennial flow.
Resource Management Area (RMA)
A Resource Management Area shall include land types that, if improperly used or developed, have a potential for causing significant water quality degradation or for diminishing the functional value of the Resource Protection Area. The RMA is contiguous to the entire inland boundary of the Resource Protection Area and includes the following categories of land:
- Highly erodible soils, including steep slopes;
- Highly permeable soils;
- Non-tidal wetlands not included in the Resources Protection area; and
- Other lands considered necessary to protect the quality of state waters
Water Quality Impact Assessment (WQIA)
A Water Quality Impact Assessment shall be required for any proposed development or land disturbance within the Resource Protection Area and for any other development in Chesapeake Bay Preservation Areas that may warrant such assessment because of the unique characteristics of the site or intensity of the proposed use or development.
The purpose of a WQIA is to identify the impacts of the proposed development on water quality and lands in the Resource Protection Areas and to determine specific measures for mitigation of those impacts. There are two levels of water quality impact assessment: a minor assessment and a major assessment.
A minor water quality impact assessment pertains only to land disturbance, development or redevelopment activity within a CBPA which causes no more than 5,000 square feet of land disturbance and/or which proposes to encroach into the landward 50 feet of the 100-foot buffer area. A minor assessment must demonstrate that the undisturbed buffer area, enhanced vegetative plantings and any required best management practices will result in the removal of no less than 75 percent of sediments and 40 percent of nutrients from post-development stormwater runoff and that will retard runoff, prevent erosion, and filter nonpoint source pollution the equivalent of the full undisturbed 100-foot buffer area.
A major water quality impact assessment shall be required for any development which (i) exceeds 5,000 square feet of land disturbance within CBPAs and proposes to encroach into the landward 50 feet of the 100-foot buffer area; (ii) proposes to disturbs any portion of the seaward 50 feet of the 100-foot buffer area or any other component of an RPA; or (iii) is located solely in a RMA when deemed necessary by the planning director or his designee for the county.
To determine whether your project requires a minor or major water quality impact assessment, please contact the Environmental Department or come in to our offices to pick up the appropriate information. Additional information is also available in the Prince George County Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance (see below).
Legislation and Regulations
- Code of Virginia: Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act
- Virginia Administrative Code: Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Designation and Management
- Prince George County: Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance (PDF)