Virginia's Path to Clean Water

Clean Water Policies for Virginia’s Next Governor and General Assembly

Richmond State House_iStock_695x352

A guide for public officials and residents on the path Virginia must take to stay on course toward fully restoring our rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay. CBF looks forward to working with Gov.-Elect Ralph Northam, Lt. Gov.-Elect Justin Fairfax, Attorney General Mark Herring, and all new and returning state legislators to ensure the success of Virginia’s clean water goals.


  • Native brook trout swimming in cool, rocky, headwater streams shaded by leafy forests.
  • Tidal waters brimming with crabs, striped bass, and healthy oyster reefs.
  • Water so clear you can see miles of undulating underwater grasses from the deck of a boat.

We are on the way to fulfilling this vision of clear, clean, thriving waterways and prospering communities through the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, the federal-state partnership to reduce pollution to our waterways. Today, leadership and action at the state level are even more critical given that federal support for Chesapeake Bay restoration is at risk.

Over the coming four years, the actions of the Commonwealth's next governor and the General Assembly could determine whether Virginia stays on track to restore its rivers, streams, and the Bay.

The following policies provide the path Virginia must take to stay on course toward fully restoring our rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay.

Our current and future elected leaders must:

Reduce Pollution

Fortunately, Virginia is largely on track to achieve its Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint goals for reducing pollution. Moving forward, the Commonwealth needs to continue investing in programs that reduce runoff from agriculture, cities, and suburbs.
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Restore Oysters and Iconic Fisheries

The recovery of oysters, crabs, and other Bay fisheries will support Virginia's once-legendary seafood industry and the thousands of jobs that rely on it. To flourish, these fisheries need clean water, healthy habitat, and sound, science-based management.
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Strengthen Local Communities

In a 2017 poll*, 97 percent of Virginians support prioritizing the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams. Virginia's rivers and the Bay are economic assets supplying jobs in tourism, seafood, and outdoor recreation industries. Fully implementing the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint would increase the value of Virginia's natural benefits by $8.3 billion annually. What’s more, clean water is necessary for human health.
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* Poll conducted by the Wason Center for Public Policy and the Virginia Environmental Endowment. The poll focused on environmental attitudes, concerns, and policy preferences. It is based upon interviews of 826 registered Virginia voters conducted between January 29 and February 12, 2017, including 382 landline interviews and 443 cell phone interviews. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.7% at the 95% level of confidence.

Photo credits (from top): Bobby Whitescarver, Chesapeake Bay Program, CBF Staff

Virginia Clean Water Forum

Virginia Gubernatorial candidates Ralph Northam and Ed Gillespie answered questions about the future of clean water in Virginia at CBF's Clean Water Forum on September 6, 2017, at The National Theater in Richmond, Virginia.

Watch now.


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Save the Bay

Founded in 1967, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is the largest independent conservation organization dedicated solely to saving the Bay.

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