Virginia's Watershed Implementation Plan

Virginia's Constitution and state water control law require protection of waterways. View Article 11 of Virginia's Constitution that calls for Virginia waters to be protected from pollution. Read key Virginia water quality monitoring and cleanup laws.

Collectively, the EPA's TMDL and the state WIPs establish the Clean Water Blueprint for the Chesapeake.

Virginia and the other six Bay jurisdictions agreed to create state-specific plans to implement 60 percent of their Bay cleanup practices by 2017 and 100 percent by 2025. These plans are called Watershed Implementation Plans or WIPs and will not only help restore the Bay, but will also significantly improve the health of local waterways.

in millions of pounds per year
Virginia 1985 2009 2015 2016
2017 Milestone 2025 Goal
Nitrogen 85.03 68.13 59.02 57.57 57.33 52.59
Phosphorus 11.58 8.67 6.62 6.57 6.24 6.4
Sediment 4,896.35 3,742.92 3,661.55 3,536.61 3,304.00 3,251.38
Go to Virginia's WIP website >>

In 2010, EPA approved Virginia's "Phase I" WIP.

The next step in the process was the development of a Phase II WIP. In general, this plan is supposed to bring the effort to a more localized level, such as a county.

For much of 2011, the 96 Virginia localities whose creeks and streams drain into the Bay researched the best, most cost-effective strategies to further reduce pollution in their local waterways. If these localities clean and restore their local waters, Virginia should achieve its share of the Baywide pollution limits. Virginia localities were submitted their local cleanup strategies to the Commonwealth, which compiled the local plans. Virginia submitted its "Phase II" WIP to EPA March 30, 2012. 

In 2018, Virginia and the other Bay jurisdictions are to submit a Phase III WIP which will focus on ensuring that all practices are in place by 2025 to meet the Bay TMDL restoration goals.


Two-year milestones provide transparency and accountability for restoration efforts. In June 2017, CBF released its assessment for the first year of the 2016-17 milestone period. The assessment looked at the practices Maryland put in place in 2016, as well as selected programs it has designed to acheive long-term goals. Download the report

Virginia's Progress Toward 2017 Milestones

Nitrogen Phosphorus Sediment
Agriculture yellow green yellow
U&S Polluted Runoff red yellow red
Wastewater & CSO† † green green green
Septic red N/A* N/A*
All Sources green green yellow


red Off-track by more than 10 percent
yellow Off-track by less than 10 percent
green On-track


* No contribution from this source sector
Urban & Suburban
† † Combined Sewer Outflow



Program Milestone: Track and report the progress of the 100% funded stream exclusion initiative.
Virginia’s agricultural sector has achieved steady progress, although efforts during this milestone period reflect full-goal achievement only for phosphorus, with nitrogen reductions less than 10 percent off-target, and sediment reductions approximately 10 percent off-target. The Commonwealth accelerated fencing cattle out of streams through a time-limited program to pay participating operators 100 percent of their costs. This program stimulated significant community participation leading to protection of 6.7 million linear feet of stream since fiscal year 2013. There is a backlog of 419 operators who await funding. 

Program Milestone: Continue development of the Resource Management Program and promote adoption in coordination with industry partners.
Virginia’s Resource Management Plan program encourages farmers to adopt and implement a plan to achieve a high level of  conservation. In exchange, these farmers are shielded for nine years from future state regulations. The program was successfully launched, with the development of over 300 plans, covering more than 65,000 acres of cropland. However, implementation of virtually all of these plans is lagging.

Program Milestone: Project the  necessary pace of agricultural BMP implementation needed to meet 2025 WIP reduction targets.
Progress in cover crop adoption is falling below targets despite significant financial investments, and implementation of forested buffers, a highly effective practice, is also off-track. Moving forward, a significant challenge will be ensuring stable and adequate cost-share funding for all of these practices. Another challenge is the substantial expansion of poultry production (with associated increases in nitrogen and phosphorus pollution) in the Shenandoah Valley and the Eastern Shore.


Program Milestone: Reissue six final MS4 permits and Phase II general permit.
Virginia’s work in this sector continues to fall short of its milestone goals, with reductions to nitrogen and sediment pollution loads being more than 10 percent off-target and reductions to phosphorus loads being off-target by less than 10 percent. While the Commonwealth’s 11 Phase I Municipal Separate Storm Sewer (MS4) permits and its Phase II MS4 general permit have all been issued with required reductions in nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution, the permits all contemplate a pollution-reduction schedule that will not meet the 2025 Blueprint implementation deadline.

Enforcement of stormwater management rules has been a concern since more stringent technical standards were put in place in 2014; however, stepped up enforcement efforts by the Department of Environmental Quality are beginning. Priorities going forward include ensuring adequate funding for these efforts through the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund ; issuance of a strong Virginia Department of Transportation MS4 permit; and implementation of effective action plans to meet the Bay Blueprint.


Program Milestone: Continue upgrades to wastewater treatment plants.
Continuing required upgrades to Virginia’s wastewater treatment plants have enabled extensive nitrogen and phosphorus pollution reductions that exceed Virginia’s milestone goals for this sector. This over achievement has allowed Virginia’s overall pollution-reduction efforts to stay on track despite lagging efforts in other source sectors. The pollution-reduction advantage related to wastewater treatment plant upgrades is expected to diminish over time with growth in the population and the subsequent increase in wastewater pollution.

An innovative proposal by Hampton Roads Sanitation District will help offset these diminishing benefits by injecting treated wastewater from seven of its wastewater plants into the deep aquifer, virtually eliminating loads from these plants and significantly reducing the annual input of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution to the lower James River and lower Bay.


The Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is our best hope to restore the Bay and its tributaries. Widespread participation in this effort—by businesses, farmers, and communities—will continue to be essential for meeting the necessary nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution reductions.

Virginia’s notable success in cleaning up pollution from its wastewater treatment plants should serve as a model for how the Commonwealth should proceed in the next eight years to address the challenging agricultural and urban stormwater pollution sectors.

For agriculture, Virginia must especially ensure adequate and stable cost-share funding for broader adoption of fencing livestock out of streams, planting forested buffers, and implementing other effective conservation practices.

For stormwater, after dedicating several years to developing and establishing stormwater regulations and first-level MS4 permits, Virginia must ensure the program achieves substantial reductions through reliable and adequate funding by the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund or other programs. There must be Blueprint consistency in reissued MS4 permits and other new permits (reissued construction general permit and Phase II MS4 general permit), and effective enforcement on the ground. In this effort, Virginia needs to enlist local and regional participants through local area planning goals that outline specific and effective steps.

The Phase III WIPs will provide information on actions the jurisdictions intend to implement between 2018 and 2025.

You can track progress for all Bay jurisdictions, including Virginia, on EPA's Chesapeake Stat website. On EPA's Chesapeake Bay TMDL website you can read about progress already being realized.

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