VIRGINIA UPDATE

From the Desk of Ann Jennings Winter 2014

    

 

Compromise Keeps Va. Runoff Pollution Program on Track  

The Virginia General Assembly is in full swing, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is in Richmond working hard on priority issues, including polluted runoff, also called stormwater.  

CBF Virginia Executive Director Ann Jennings.

CBF's  Virginia Executive Director
Ann Jennings.

Fifteen bills were introduced in this legislative session to delay, weaken, or exempt localities from taking responsibility for managing the new state runoff pollution standards approved by Virginia in 2011 and already delayed multiple times. 

The rules require localities to significantly reduce runoff pollution, the water that washes off buildings, streets, parking lots, and lawns when it rains, sweeping a toxic brew of fertilizers, chemicals, pet waste, and dirt into local waterways. In fact, urban/suburban runoff is the only major source of Chesapeake Bay pollution still increasing. It continues to cause local flooding, choke streams and rivers, threaten public health, close beaches, and contaminate seafood. Click here to learn more about the effects of polluted runoff in our latest investigative report. 

CBF and other conservation, development, and local government stakeholders successfully worked out a compromise that addresses the concerns of localities but keeps Virginia's program for reducing runoff pollution on track and on time. 

The compromise legislation was passed overwhelmingly by the House of Delegates and gained the strong support of the Senate committee reviewing the issue. While a few issues remain to be resolved, we anticipate that the legislation will be approved by the state Senate and signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe. This would be a significant victory for clean water and the Chesapeake Bay!

CBF also is working to ensure the General Assembly:

  • Provides $50 million in the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund in 2015 to help localities pay for shovel-ready projects that reduce runoff;
  • Provides $30 million in each of the next budget years to fund agricultural conservation practices and technical assistance to reduce farm runoff;
  • Maintains $2 million in proposed funding for oyster replenishment in fiscal years 2015 and 2016 and supplements it with an additional $1 million each year for oyster restoration; and
  • Extends the January 2015 sunset date for Virginia's science-based menhaden conservation plan to July 2016. Not doing so threatens to leave the state without a plan to manage menhaden, Virginia's largest fishery

Virginia has more than 13,000 miles of polluted waterways, including most of the Chesapeake Bay. The dirty water threatens public health, the environment, and the economy. State elected leaders have a heightened responsibility and a great opportunity to restore clean water to Virginia and at the same time boost jobs and the economy. CBF is working hard in Richmond to see that they do.

You can help by contacting your legislators and urging them to support clean water and the Chesapeake Bay. Click here to learn how. 

—Ann Jennings
Virginia Executive Director
Chesapeake Bay Foundation

P.S. Check out photos from our recent legislative reception, where Gov. McAuliffe and Sen. Warner were in attendance! 

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