The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Norfolk District (USACE) have signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) regarding compensatory mitigation. Compensatory mitigation may be required for impacts to wetlands and/or streams under the Virginia Water Protection Permit Program and the USACE/ U.S. EPA final rule on Compensatory Mitigation for Losses of Aquatic Resources.
The MOA is intended to divide responsibilities between the two agencies to increase efficiency in review and get mitigation credits to market faster. USACE will remain the lead agency responsible for review up through mitigation site approval, initial mitigation credit release, and final construction plans. DEQ will serve as the lead agency, with federal oversight, for compliance review of approved mitigation sites after construction, including review of as-built reports, monitoring reports, and financial reports, as well as mitigation credit releases and correction actions associated with these reports.
The MOA also sets the development of a new 2023 Monitoring Report template for regular compliance monitoring of third-party mitigation sites. Designed to further increase efficiency in agency review of monitoring reports and reach credit release decisions faster, the template was developed by the USACE and DEQ, with input from the Virginia Interagency Review Team and the public. It was publicly noticed by the USACE on April 12, and its use will be required on all monitoring reports for third-party compensatory mitigation sites going forward.