Since 1990, the number of environmental regulations that have been promulgated which impact the cost of creating a residential lot has skyrocketed. In addition to the federally mandated non-tidal wetlands, here in Virginia VDEQ decided Virginians were too stupid to know what was a stream, and so they defined it for us. Their definition states that there were three types of streams – Perennials, Intermittent, and Ephemeral.
Most people would identify a Perennial stream (year-round flow of water) as a stream or creek. Many of us would be willing to give them jurisdiction over the Intermittent (wet weather stream).
However, the Ephemeral stream is just as important according to the Virginia VDEQ. The definition of Ephemeral means “ghostlike” so you have to hire a consultant to determine where the Ephemeral streams are located, but if you impact them the penalty is just as great as if they are a Perennial or Intermittent stream.
An Ephemeral Stream is defined as where water collects to run off of a site during a storm event, even if it ceases to flow after the storm event is over. When I commented to a VDEQ regulator that all roadside ditches are Ephemeral Streams she replied “Roadside ditches are specifically excluded unless they are a stream.”
With impacts of $400 to $500 per lineal foot you can imagine how that cost is translated into the increased cost of a residential lot. Notice I have not discussed the impact of non-tidal wetlands or the Chesapeake Bay regulations. All increase the cost of building lots for houses.