(RICHMOND, VA)—As Gov. Terry McAuliffe develops his biennial budget request, 400 Virginians have written to urge McAuliffe to support sufficient funding for projects to restore local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) delivered these letters to the Governor's office today.
Virginia is making steady progress toward meeting clean up requirements under the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, the Commonwealth's plan for cutting pollution entering the Bay. Continuing this momentum is vital as the 2016 General Assembly session approaches.
"While Virginia can point to areas of success in restoring its waterways, much work remains for agriculture, urban centers, and wastewater treatment plants to meet clean water milestones for the Commonwealth," said CBF Virginia Assistant Director Peggy Sanner. "That's why we urge Governor McAuliffe and legislators to make sure these projects are fully funded."
The letters seek state funding for agricultural practices like fencing cattle out of streams. Many farmers who signed up for a state program to pay for streamside fencing are awaiting state funds due to an estimated $65 million backlog.
Virginians also asked the Governor to assist urban and suburban areas in better managing polluted runoff. Commonwealth localities will need about $50 million annually to control runoff, according to VirginiaForever, a coalition of businesses and conservation organizations.
Upgrades to wastewater treatment plants are cutting the flow of pollution to rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. Finalizing upgrades planned for the next several years in Virginia will require $58 million in funding.
In recent years, restoration projects have planted tens of millions of oysters in Virginia waters as this once decimated Chesapeake icon begins a remarkable comeback. The return of the oyster industry holds huge promise for Virginia's economy. In 2016, Virginia needs $1 million for oyster restoration and $2 million for efforts to boost the oyster harvest by Virginia watermen.
The letters by Virginia citizens show they consider restoring our waters to be of paramount importance. Fully funding these projects is vital to continuing progress toward cutting pollution and restoring the Chesapeake Bay.