Finding Solutions to Environmental Challenges in Virginia
Virginia’s diverse geography and abundant natural resources benefit agriculture, industry and commerce and provide a rich environment for people, plants and wildlife. To ensure the continued vitality of what the Commonwealth has to offer, the mission of the Department of Environmental Quality is to protect and improve the environment for the well-being of all Virginians.
Printable DEQ Brochure.pdf
Protecting the Environment
DEQ administers state and federal laws and regulations for air quality, water quality, water supply and land protection. In addition, other programs cover a variety of environmental activities, such as improving the ability of businesses and local governments to protect the environment, and offering technical and financial assistance for air and water quality improvements. Through its six regional offices, DEQ issues permits, conducts inspections and monitoring, and enforces regulations and permits.
Working with You
Meeting Virginia’s environmental challenges is a cooperative effort that involves communities, businesses, educators, government agencies and many more. DEQ collaborates with these partners to enhance the quality of our environment and to strengthen the role everyone plays in environmental protection.
DEQ’s community involvement efforts strive to inform people of environmental activities and improve opportunities for public participation. There are many situations where DEQ and community members can work together. Individuals and organizations may participate in community meetings and public hearings; comment on permits and regulations; volunteer with citizen groups that monitor water quality; help develop cleanup plans for “impaired” streams, rivers and lakes; and nominate waters of exceptional quality for special designation.
The environmental excellence program at DEQ encourages the development of environmental management systems, which enable participants to improve their practices and reduce pollution voluntarily. DEQ also promotes programs that reduce mercury at businesses, medical waste at hospitals and water pollution at marinas. To improve neighborhoods and foster economic growth, the agency also encourages the cleanup of brownfields, which are unused commercial and industrial properties.
DEQ helps train educators and community volunteers through several significant initiatives. The agency manages environmental education programs that include education for air and water quality, and training to meet the Virginia Standards of Learning. DEQ also supports Virginia Naturally, the Commonwealth’s environmental education initiative. Virginia Naturally is a gateway to resources and information about the environment via the web at www.vanaturally.com.
DEQ’s government agency partners at the local, state and federal levels also help protect Virginia’s environment. Through these partnerships, DEQ promotes recycling and the prevention of pollution and litter, protects Virginia’s coastal areas, reviews the environmental impacts of state and federal projects, and encourages voluntary measures that safeguard natural resources.
To protect people’s health and Virginia’s natural resources, DEQ issues environmental permits to businesses, local governments, and state and federal facilities. Permits establish safe limits for pollution and protect our air, water and land.
Inspections and Enforcement
DEQ inspects and monitors permitted facilities, ensuring that they comply with regulations and permits. The agency conducts announced and unannounced on-site inspections, and requires permit holders to submit periodic status reports detailing the amount and type of pollution released from their facilities. In cases where permit requirements are not met or where regulations are violated, DEQ focuses on helping bring facilities into compliance. Initial steps include offering technical assistance or seeking corrective action. If appropriate, DEQ also may issue enforcement orders or refer cases to the Virginia Attorney General’s office for legal action.
Environmental Monitoring and Response
DEQ closely tracks and responds to environmental conditions around the state. This includes monitoring air and water quality, issuing air quality forecasts, and working to restore the quality of waters such as the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia’s rivers. DEQ also investigates fish kills, oversees cleanups at environmental incidents such as fuel and chemical spills, and conducts special studies to investigate environmental contamination and its sources.