(RICHMOND, VA)—The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is encouraged that a federal report on regional progress to restore the Chesapeake Bay found that Virginia is largely on track to meet its 2017 Bay pollution reduction goals. The EPA report, based on state-supplied data and the latest computer analyses, indicates the Commonwealth is on schedule to meet its nitrogen and phosphorus reduction goals but is slightly behind for sediment.
"Virginia has definitely made great progress in reducing Bay pollution, especially from wastewater treatment plants and agriculture," said CBF Virginia Executive Director Ann Jennings.
Jennings noted, however, that an earlier EPA analysis identified a significant disconnect between Virginia's current policies governing livestock farms and on-the-ground practices needed to achieve the long-term goals of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, the regional plan to restore the Bay.
Because Virginia is relying heavily upon agriculture to achieve the additional pollution reductions needed to meet Bay cleanup goals—79 percent of reductions must come from agricultural sources—the state must accelerate implementation of priority farm conservation practices.
"It is imperative that the McAuliffe administration use cost-share incentives, regulations, or both to ensure farmers across the state fence livestock out of farm streams and plant trees to restore streamside forest buffers," Jennings said. "These and other proven conservation practices protect streams and rivers and can help boost livestock health and farm bottom lines."
Virginia also must increase funding to help localities reduce polluted runoff from streets, parking lots, lawns, and buildings. Urban and suburban runoff is among the few increasing sources of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution in Virginia and across the Bay region.
"There simply is no silver bullet that will save the Bay," Jennings said. "All must do their share."
The Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint requires the Bay states to report every two years on their progress toward achieving the Blueprint's 2017 interim goal—sufficient practices and controls in place to achieve 60 percent of needed pollution reductions—and the ultimate 2025 goal, practices and controls in place to ensure 100 percent of needed pollution reductions. The latest EPA report evaluated each state's progress half way through the current two-year cycle.
CBF intends to issue its own assessment of Virginia's interim progress in July.