(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. Highlights include:
- The Stormwater Local Assistance Fund, which helps localities keep polluted runoff from our waterways, stands to receive urgently needed funding from the House, with an unprecedented $92 million, and the Senate at $50 million.
- Virginia’s Agricultural Cost-Share Program, which supports farmers adopting conservation practices like stream fencing and nutrient management plans, would receive $88.8 million from the House over the two-year period. The Senate proposal would provide $76.3 million for the first year, but no funding in the second year.
- To continue upgrading sewage treatment plants—a long term success story in Virginia—the House would add $40 million and the Senate $60 million.
- Oyster restoration and replenishment efforts would receive $8 million from both houses. To help meet ecological restoration goals, reef building proposals would see an additional $5 million from the House and $10 million from the Senate.
Final appropriations will be decided by the end of the legislative session. In response to the budget proposals, Chesapeake Bay Foundation Virginia Executive Director Peggy Sanner the following statement.
“We are grateful to our legislators for their continued commitment to achieving the goals of the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint. The budget proposals issued provide crucial support for Virginia’s key clean water programs.
“Polluted runoff from developed areas is the biggest challenge to restoring our rivers and streams, and Virginia’s cities and counties rely on the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund to support effective projects that reduce this runoff. The current proposals for this important program will make a big difference as localities work to restore local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay for future generations.
“Legislators in both the House and Senate are proposing strong investment in Virginia’s longstanding agricultural cost-share program, which helps farmers adopt conservation practices that benefit the local economy and lead to cleaner water. We will work to ensure robust funding over both years so that Virginia can secure cost-effective progress for our water quality goals.
“It’s very encouraging that legislators are proposing continued investment in oyster restoration to build sanctuary reefs, and oyster replenishment to boost harvests by hardworking watermen.
“Upgrading sewage treatment plants has led to dramatic improvements in the health of many of our waterways, and the funding represented by these budget proposals will help to ensure that everyone who lives downstream of sewage treatment plants will experience these improvements.
“We will continue to work with legislators, urging them to include funding for all of these programs that support clean water at the local level and in the Chesapeake Bay.”