(RICHMOND, VA)—Virginia's 2016 General Assembly late yesterday approved vital support for programs that will help restore the Commonwealth's rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay. The approved budget funds projects that reduce pollution from agriculture, sewage treatment plants, and urban and suburban polluted runoff, and will also boost the Virginia oyster harvest. Chesapeake Bay Foundation Virginia Executive Director Rebecca LePrell issued the following statement regarding the budget.
"The General Assembly came through with strong support for clean water programs. We are very grateful to our lawmakers for providing this critical funding to restore our rivers, streams, and Bay waters. It's clear that Virginia's legislators throughout the state recognize the value of having clean and healthy waterways for our communities."
This funding is crucial to ensuring that Virginia can meet its commitments under the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, the federal-state partnership to restore local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay. The General Assembly approved the following funding levels:
- $20 million for the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund, which provides matching grants to localities for cost-effective projects that reduce urban and suburban polluted runoff. This is the only major source of water pollution in Virginia still increasing.
- $61.7 million for agricultural best management practices in fiscal year 2017. Farm conservation practices like fencing cattle out of streams are the most cost-efficient actions to restore the Bay and local streams. This support will help farmers who are eager to do their share.
- $59 million to reduce pollution from Virginia's wastewater treatment plants. Installation of advanced nutrient removal technology in many plants is already reducing the flow of pollution to rivers and the Bay, but the modernization process is not yet complete. This funding will continue important progress.
- $4 million for oyster replenishment, which boosts the oyster harvest for Virginia watermen.
We thank our legislators for their constructive work and look forward to final approval of the budget when it reaches Governor McAuliffe's desk.