Photo by Chuck Epes/CBF Staff
2017 Virginia Legislative Session
As we head to the halfway mark of our Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint restoration efforts, it's more important than ever that Virginia maintain strong support for clean water programs. This General Assembly Session, CBF is working in support of policies and funding for key programs that keep our rivers, streams, and the Bay healthy.
Keeping the Bay Act Intact
The Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act (Bay Act) has protected tidal waters in Virginia since 1988. But House Bill 2008 threatens to weaken the Bay Act. Currently, developers need to install silt fences, stabilize banks, and implement other practices if they disturb more than 2,500 square feet. This bill would allow land disturbances four times that size – up to 10,000 square feet – before developers are required to take these important steps to prevent sediment pollution. We have long recognized that economic development and Bay restoration can coexist. However, as an improving economy brings more construction, weakening Bay Act requirements could derail the progress Virginia has made towards clean, healthy waterways.
Reducing Polluted Runoff
In Virginia's cities and suburbs, rains wash pollution from roofs, sidewalks, and roadways and into our waterways, creating polluted runoff. Fortunately, matching grants from Virginia's Stormwater Local Assistance Fund (SLAF) help localities construct wetlands, restore streams, and install rain gardens to reduce runoff into their streams and meet Clean Water Blueprint goals. CBF urges the General Assembly to appropriate $20 million for fiscal year 2018 to ensure localities have a reliable source of funding for these critical pollution reduction projects.
Farm Conservation Practices
Farm conservation practices (also referred to as best management practices) like fencing cattle out of streams and planting buffers of streamside plants and trees are the most cost-efficient steps in Virginia to restore the Bay and local streams. Virginia's agricultural cost-share program provides financial and technical assistance for farmers willing to do their part to reduce runoff. To maintain the progress the agricultural community has made, the Commonwealth should appropriate $43 million for fiscal year 2018.
Ensuring Nutrient Trading Protects Local Waters
We are monitoring any legislation that affects Virginia's nutrient trading program, which benefits water quality by allowing facilities that reduce pollution cheaply to trade "credits" to facilities where pollution reduction is more expensive. Our efforts are focused on making sure that the program continues to achieve real progress in the Bay while protecting local waterways.
Keep Virginia on Track to Meet Clean Water Goals
Fortunately, Virginia is largely on track to meet its clean water goals for 2017, and has a host of programs in place that are making steady progress. But we can't fall behind. This General Assembly, we urge our legislators and the Governor to ensure that we stay the course.