Virginia Beach Adoption of Public Works Design Standards Manual Effective June 16, 2020

Changes include revisions to portions of the Stormwater Management Ordinance

On June 30, 2020, Virginia Beach’s Development Services Center¹ (DSC) released a notice for consultants, builders and developers, announcing City Council’s June 16, 2020 adoption of the Public Works Design Standards Manual (PWDSM) and a number of associated Codes and Ordinances.  All provisions are applicable immediately and the notice also provides guidelines for maintaining project compliance during a transition period.  Projects may continue to incorporate design based on the 2015 Public Works Specifications and Standards (PWSS) if certain criteria are met (as listed below), however the PWDSM does replace the PWSS.  Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc. (WSSI) can help you evaluate how the new PWDSM impacts your current and future projects.

Stormwater Management Code Changes

WSSI’s review of the modifications to sections of City Code indicate that most are largely textual, changing the former reference to the PWSS to the newly adopted PWDSM.  The one exception is ORD-3618, which amended portions of Appendix D, Stormwater Management. Substantial revisions were made to Section 1-13.- Water Quality and Section 1-15. – Design storms and hydrologic methods.  Several definitions were added or modified throughout, as well. Important changes include:

  • Definitions added include: Depression storage, Energy Grade Line, Hydraulic Grade Line, Localized Flooding, and Point of Adequacy.
  • Section 1-15 §A, Appendix D specifies that the prescribed design storms are 120% of the one-year, two-year, and 10-year, 25-year, 50-year and 100-year 24-hour storms events.
  • Section 1-13 §G, Appendix D specified that the entire drainage area must be considered when determining the design storm and hydrologic methods, i.e., onsite and offsite. In addition, the new code specifies different design storm events for drainage areas less than 300 acres, between 300 and 500 acres and greater than 500 acres.

To see all of the Stormwater Management Code changes, visit the Recent City Code Amendments webpage. Note that the City is formatting the PWDSM with user-friendly hyperlinks and will post it on the Public Works webpage when ready.

When Do You Have to Comply?

As stated above, all provisions are applicable immediately.  Projects may continue to incorporate design based on the 2015 PWSS if the following two criteria are met per the Transition Provisions stated in the PWDSM:

  1. The initial submittal of the site development plan or subdivision construction plan must be received by the DSC on or before 5pm on Thursday, July 16, 2020, and
  2. The site plan or subdivision construction plan must be approved by the DSC on or before 5pm on Monday, December 14, 2020.

Therefore, projects currently in review or those that have been submitted on or prior to July 16, 2020 may continue to design using the PWSS if DSC plan approval is obtained on or before December 14, 2020.

If you have questions about how these changes can impact your projects now and in the future, please contact Mark McElroy or Bob Kerr in WSSI’s Virginia Beach office.

1 a service of the Department of Planning and Community Development


  • Bob Kerr

    Virginia Beach, VA

  • Mark McElroy

    Virginia Beach, VA