April 1, 2022


Jamie Brunkow
irector of Advocacy & James Riverkeeper
(757) 634-4541

James River Association Supports Stronger Water Quality Protections as Virginia Transitions to Clean Energy

This week, DEQ Director Michael Rolband issued a memorandum clarifying the agency’s policy for large, utility-scale solar array projects subject to Virginia’s Stormwater Management Program. Solar panels will be treated as unconnected, impervious surfaces when calculating the best management practices necessary to treat the quantity and quality of stormwater expected after construction has been completed. With this policy announcement, Virginia’s rivers and streams will be better protected from the nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution caused by runoff from solar panels and their surroundings during storm events. Managing solar panels as unconnected, impervious surfaces is consistent with other similar projects, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program, which categorizes the arrays as impervious when calculating the amount of pollution reaching the Bay from solar fields and the pollution reductions necessary to meet our Chesapeake Bay cleanup goals.

Bill Street, President and Chief Executive Officer of the James River Association, released the following statement:

“Treating solar panels as impervious surfaces is a common sense way to protect the health of Virginia’s rivers and streams as the Commonwealth transitions to the use of clean, renewable energy. Moving forward, large-scale solar fields subject to Virginia’s post-construction stormwater regulations will have the proper conservation practices in place to slow down and treat the right amount of stormwater, preventing erosion and keeping excess pollution out of our waterways. This is an important step towards meeting our Chesapeake Bay and water quality commitments while making steady progress towards a zero-carbon emissions future for Virginia’s energy sector.”

ABOUT THE JAMES RIVER ASSOCIATION: The James River Association is a member-supported nonprofit organization founded in 1976 to serve as a guardian and voice for the James River. Throughout the James River’s 10,000-square mile watershed, the James River Association works toward its vision of a fully healthy James River supporting thriving communities. The James River Association believes that “when you change the James, the James changes you”. With offices in Lynchburg, Richmond, Williamsburg, and Scottsville, the James River Association is committed to protecting the James River and connecting people to it. For more information visit