(RICHMOND, VA)—In separate proposed budgets released Sunday, the Virginia Senate Finance Committee and House Appropriations Committee released funding proposals for the Commonwealth’s clean water programs for the next two fiscal years.
- Virginia’s agricultural cost-share program, including technical and related services, would receive approximately $37.4 million in the first year and $10 million in the second year under the House proposal, and $37.6 in the first year and $12.6 in the second year under the Senate proposal. By contrast, the most recent appropriations for this program (FY18) were at approximately $17 million.
- The Stormwater Local Assistance Fund would receive $20 million in the first year under the Senate proposal but would not be supported in the House proposal, even though the General Assembly has not added new money to this program since 2016.
- Oyster replenishment to assist commercial watermen, currently funded at $2 million annually, would receive $2 million per year under the Senate proposal and $2,250,000 under the House proposal. Oyster restoration work for sanctuary reefs, which is currently not receiving state funding, would receive $750,000 in the first year and $1 million in the second year under the Senate proposal, and $250,000 in each year in the House proposal.
Final appropriations will be decided by the end of the legislative session. Chesapeake Bay Foundation Virginia Executive Director Rebecca Tomazin issued the following statement.
“We thank Virginia’s House and Senate money committees for supporting increased investment in key clean water programs. The Commonwealth’s long-running agricultural cost-share program helps farmers adopt conservation practices that benefit the local economy and lead to healthier streams and rivers. The Stormwater Local Assistance Fund contributes to efforts by cities and counties to reduce polluted runoff—one of the biggest challenges to restoring local waterways. Oyster replenishment helps boost harvests by Virginia’s hardworking watermen, while oyster restoration builds sanctuary reefs that increase oyster populations.
“Virginia is largely on track for its pollution reduction goals under the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, and support from the Commonwealth is essential to keeping up progress in restoring our rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay. As our legislators make final budget decisions, we urge them to maintain strong investments in clean water programs.
“We will continue to work with legislators, urging them to include the Senate’s proposed funding for the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund and oyster restoration, along with support for the agricultural cost-share programs.”