Ohio EPA Taking Comments on Voluntary Action Program (VAP) Changes to the Biocriteria Rules

Ohio EPA plans to modify the biocriteria training and certification requirements for the Voluntary Action Program (VAP) and will hold a public hearing on March 4, 2013 to accept comments.

The hearing is at 10:30 a.m. in conference room A, Ohio EPA central office, 50 West Town Street, Suite 700, Columbus. The hearing will conclude once everyone has had an opportunity to comment.  Please bring a photo I.D. to register at the visitor’s desk.

The VAP program was created to allow those who want to clean up a piece of property to do so by following specific standards developed by Ohio EPA. When cleanup requirements are met, the director of Ohio EPA issues a covenant not to sue that protects the property owner or operator and future owners from being legally responsible to the State of Ohio for further investigation and cleanup. This protection applies only when the property is used and maintained in the same manner as when the covenant was issued. To establish property has been cleaned, sometimes biocriteria are used, which involves gathering data to evaluate the numbers and kinds of organisms present in waterways.

The rule update would require consultants wanting to be VAP certified or recertified to follow the requirements of Ohio EPA’s Division of Surface Water credible data program. Certified biocriteria evaluators follow biocriteria assessment requirements when evaluating sediment found in streams or rivers on VAP properties they are contracted to assess.

Ohio’s credible data law defines three levels of data quality. The simplest level of data collection and analysis is tailored to educational and other outreach activities. The most advanced level involves collecting of data using well-established methodologies to collect and assess data at a level necessary to support regulatory decisions made by Ohio EPA. The most advanced level is on par with the biocriteria certification and renewal certification formerly obtained through the VAP program.

Copies of the Voluntary Action Program rules are available on Ohio EPA’s website, or can be obtained by calling (614) 644-2924. Written comments can be submitted to Ohio EPA Division of Environmental Response and Revitalization, Attention: Emily Patchen, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049, or emailed to by March 4, 2013. Questions regarding the rules also should be sent to this address. Ohio EPA will consider all comments before finalizing the rules.


The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1972 to consolidate efforts to protect and improve air quality, water quality and waste management in Ohio. In the past 40 years, air pollutants dropped by as much as 90 percent; large rivers meeting standards improved from 21 percent to 89 percent; and hundreds of polluting, open dumps were replaced with engineered landfills and an increased emphasis on waste reduction and recycling. Ohio EPA….40 years and moving forward.

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