Richmond VA > Public Utilities > Chesapeake Bay Protection Areas

Last Updated: 2019-05-09

The Chesapeake Bay

Wetlands near a Bay of water.

The city of Richmond is committed to helping the Commonwealth improve and preserve water quality for the 64,000 square mile watershed that is the Chesapeake Bay.

The Chesapeake Bay program was adopted in 1981 as required by Virginia General Assembly to create and preserve buffer areas around local streams and rivers to help improve water quality due to concentrated and polluted runoff from impervious areas from new and existing development.

New and redevelopment construction projects within these designated Chesapeake Bay Protection Areas (CBPAs) are required to provide some type offset or mitigation to improve the quality of the water before the runoff enters local waterways which contribute to the Bay.

Protection Buffer between the water.

When developing within a CBPA there are some key points to remember:

Resource Management Area

A Resource Management Area (RMA) is a contiguous to the entire inland boundary of the resource protection area. The following land categories shall be considered for inclusion in the resource management area and, where mapping resources indicate the presence of these land types contiguous to the resource protection area, should be included in designations of RMAs:

  • 100 year floodplains
  • Highly erodible soils including steep slopes
  • Non-tidal wetlands not included in the RPA
  • 500-foot buffers (protect RPAs and those other areas listed)
  • 600-foot buffers outward from the center of the stream in areas where the RMA has no site specific evaluation.

Resource Protection Area

A Resource Protection Area (RPA) consists of lands adjacent to water bodies with perennial glow that have an intrinsic water quality value due to the ecological and biological processes they perform or lands that are sensitive to impacts which may cause significant degradation to the quality of state waters. The City has included the following areas:

  • Tidal wetlands
  • Non-tidal wetlands contiguous to tidal wetlands or water bodies with perennial flow
  • Tidal shores
  • Other land considered necessary for water quality protection
  • And buffered areas 100 feet landward of and adjacent to those listed above.

An Intensely Developed Area (IDA) is an overlay to the RPA, this category includes "areas of existing development and infill sites where little of the natural environment remains." Development in an IDA is treated as redevelopment, in which case the performance requirement is for a ten percent (10%) reduction in nonpoint source pollution where runoff is not already treated by a BMP.

Water Quality Impact Assessment is a narrative that identifies the impacts of proposed development on water quality and lands in the resources protection areas consistent with the goals and objectives of the Clean Water Act, city Code, and the city's programs, and to determine specific measures for mitigation of those impacts. A WQIA is required for all development and encroachments into the RPA.

Land Disturbing FAQs

How do I know when I need a Permit?

Knowing the type of permit required takes some understanding of the amount of land disturbing proposed for your projects and its location in the city. Use this Flowchart to determine what is required.

A flowchart to determine if a permit is required.

What is a Chesapeake Bay Buffer Area and what does that mean for my permit?

The Chesapeake Bay Protection Areas are special areas of the city that are designated as having an impacting on or draining to the Chesapeake Bay. These areas are divided into area buffer areas, the Resource Management Area (RMA) and the Resource Protection Area (RPA). The entire Chesapeake Buffers can be found on the Chesapeake Bay Map on the city's website.

The Chesapeake Bay Public Information Manual provides guidance to the public on the Chesapeake Bay and its requirements.

Land Development 2,500 square feet or greater in the RMA, The 500 foot buffer land ward of the 100' RPA Buffer, will require a RMSP permit. The VA Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has enacted a stormwater regulations that required development in these areas to meet new water quality standards. Water quality treatment for each site is determined using the Runoff Reduction Spreadsheet. Using specific data from the project site will determine how much Phosphorus needs to be removed from the water from impervious areas on the site.

Land Development one (1) acre or greater in the RMA will also be required to provide water quality treatment as a part of the RMSP permit approval.

Development with the RPA, The 500 foot buffer land ward of a Perennial Water body, is restricted and requires mitigation of the impacts to the area beyond water quality. Please review the Riparian Buffer Modification & Mitigation Guidance Manual to determine what mitigation requirements are required.

How do I apply for a land disturbing permit?

For information on land disturbing permits, please go to the Water Resources page for Land Disturbing and Stormwater Permitting.

Who do I call for more information?

  • For general questions about permitting and plan application requirements:
    Sarah Henrickson, Project Mgmt. Analyst, (804)646-8106

  • For questions about bonds:
    Jackie Moon, Admin Assistant, (804)646-3696

  • For engineering questions or guidance on specific projects under review:
    Stewart Platt, Engineer II, (804)646-6956
    Surani Olsen, Engineer I, (804)646-7674

  • For detailed questions about Chesapeake Bay requirements, floodplain, code interpretations or general questions:
    Jonet Prevost-White, Operations Manager, (804)646-6964

For more information, please call the Water Resources Division at (804)646-7586.

Or the City call center (804)646-7000.


RVA Impact Map displays projects (i.e. gas, water, paving, etc.), events (i.e. parades, races, block parties, etc.) and right of way impacts (i.e. detours, partial and full lane closures, barricades, parking restrictions, etc.) as an interactive map for informational and navigational purposes. Data displayed is refreshed as changes are made.

Contact Information:

Public Utilities
City of Richmond
900 E. Broad St.,
Room 115
Richmond, VA
23219 USA
Map It
Phone: (804)646-4646
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