In a budget agreement reached this week, legislators in Virginia’s General Assembly agreed to amendments for the second year of Virginia’s two-year state budget for fiscal years 2023 and 2024.
Building on proposals made by Governor Youngkin, the General Assembly’s budget agreement would provide significant additional investment in state programs that reduce pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and rivers and streams across the Commonwealth.
Legislators reached the agreement following months of negotiations after the end of Virginia’s General Assembly legislative session in February. To become law, this budget agreement must now pass the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates in a special session and be signed by Governor Youngkin.
The General Assembly budget includes the following levels of funding for clean water programs:
- Virginia’s Agricultural Cost-Share (VACS) and related programs would receive an additional $286 million for cost-share grants to farmers who adopt important conservation practices that keep soil and fertilizer out of waterways. This amount would be in addition to the appropriation of more than $350 million over two years for these programs by the General Assembly in early 2022.
- Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrades: Under the budget, $151 million in additional funds would be provided to sewage treatmentplants to continue upgrades that reduce nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution. This amount would be in addition to the more than $70 million appropriated in early 2022 for the two-year budget period.
- Stormwater Management: The budget includes an additional $30 million for the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund (SLAF), whichprovides grants to localities for projects that reduce polluted runoff. These amounts would be in addition to the $25 million appropriated for SLAF in 2022.
- Resiliency to Storms, Flooding, and Climate Change: The budget dedicates $100 million to the Resilient Virginia Revolving Loan Fund, which provides funding and loans to local governments to help property owners finance flood resilience projects.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation Acting Virginia Executive Director Christy Everett issued the following statement.
“We’re thrilled that legislators worked together to reach an agreement that commits unprecedented levels of investment in farm conservation practices and other programs that reduce pollution to Virginia’s waterways.
“Accelerating funding for these projects is the only way Virginia will make progress toward longstanding goals to reduce pollution under the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. This is even more important given growing challenges to Bay restoration from climate change, inflation, development, and other factors.”
“About 90 percent of Virginia’s remaining pollution reductions to the Bay must come from agriculture, making investment in Virginia’s successful agricultural cost-share program is critical. Strong investment in resiliency projects is also urgent, particularly in nature-based practices that both help communities adapt to climate change while reducing pollution and creating habitat.
“We’re grateful for the commitment and support of Virginia legislators for these programs that will lead to healthier rivers and streams and a restored Chesapeake Bay.”