State of the Bay and Legislative Session
Bay restoration is CBF's focus in the 2015 Virginia General Assembly, now in session in Richmond through February. Our priority: Ramp up efforts so past Bay cleanup progress doesn't slow.
Watch this special State of the Bay video to learn more. Then tell your legislators that clean water matters to you! Click here to take action.
As our new 2014 State of the Bay Report indicates, water quality in the Bay is improving, and oysters and underwater grasses are rebounding. This is good news and evidence that the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, the regional plan to reduce pollution and restore the Bay, is working.
Here in the Commonwealth, the Blueprint is working because Virginia has invested hundreds of millions in Bay cleanup programs to upgrade local sewage treatment plants, help farmers reduce runoff, assist localities in managing polluted runoff, and boost oyster restoration.
The gains in water quality, grasses, and oysters noted in our State of the Bay Report, however, were offset by losses in rockfish and crabs, as well as increased phosphorus pollution. CBF's overall Bay health score of 32 (a D+) tells us the Bay is still dangerously out of balance.
That's why it's so important that the 2015 General Assembly not reduce Bay cleanup efforts in Virginia. CBF recognizes that Assembly lawmakers are challenged by many competing interests and budget constraints. But underfunding restoration programs now will mean Virginia not only will miss state and regional clean water commitments, with the predictable consequences for fish, crabs, and other aquatic life. It will also jeopardize the state's economy, public health, and quality of life.
According to a recent peer-reviewed economic report on the benefits of a restored Bay, Virginia has the most to gain and the most to lose if we miss our pollution-reduction goals. The economic benefit to the Bay region shows a 4:1 return on investment. Every dollar invested in cleaning our waterways provides $4 return in economic benefits.
The bottom line: The more we invest in the Bay, the more all Virginians benefit. The reverse is also true: Fewer Bay investments will mean less economic growth, fewer jobs, less seafood, more closed beaches, and fewer recreational opportunities.
CBF is working every day in the State Capitol to ensure legislators hear this message. But with only a month left in the Assembly session, legislators need and want to hear from you, too. Let them know why Virginia's rivers, streams, and the Bay are important to you. Share your stories; make it real. Let them know that by making the Bay a priority, they are making you and all Virginians a priority.
We can have clean rivers to fish in, clean beaches to swim from, and a thriving Bay for our children and grandchildren—but only with your help.
Hampton Roads Director
Chesapeake Bay Foundation