(RICHMOND, VA)—Yesterday, Virginia's General Assembly approved a budget for the Commonwealth for the next two fiscal years, which will become law once signed by Gov. Ralph Northam. The budget includes the following investments in clean water programs:
- Virginia's agricultural cost-share program, including technical and related services, would receive approximately $40 million total over the two years. By contrast, the most recent appropriations for this program (FY18) were approximately $17 million.
- The Stormwater Local Assistance Fund would receive $20 million in the first year. The last time the General Assembly added new money to this program was in 2016.
- Oyster replenishment to assist commercial watermen and restoration for sanctuary reefs together would receive $2.75 million in the first year and $3 million in the second year. Currently oyster replenishment is funded at $2 million annually, while this is the first time for general funds to be dedicated to oyster restoration.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation Virginia Executive Director Rebecca LePrell Tomazin issued the following statement.
"I commend Virginia's legislators for their strong investment in programs that restore our rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay. This shows that clean water is something we all agree on, despite lengthy budget negotiations this session. Steady support from the Commonwealth for these initiatives is essential as Virginia strives to reach pollution reduction goals under the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.”
"Virginia's longstanding agricultural cost-share program supports farm conservation practices that benefit the local economy and local streams. The Stormwater Local Assistance Fund helps cities and counties reduce polluted runoff, one of Virginia's biggest remaining challenges to clean water.
"I'm thrilled that for the first time the General Assembly has invested in oyster restoration to build sanctuary reefs, while continuing support for oyster replenishment to boost harvests by hardworking watermen. This will increase oyster populations as the Chesapeake Oyster Alliance works towards adding 10 billion new oysters to the Bay."