Last week, the James River Association joined clean water groups from all over the Chesapeake Bay Watershed at our Nation’s Capitol to ask our Congressional leaders to support water quality funding. For years, we’ve urged our elected officials to hold the line against any attempts to cut critical initiatives like EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program. But this time, with the 2025 Bay Cleanup goal fast approaching, we turned up the pressure, asking for a funding increase for the first time in five years.

Did our Bay champs on the Hill hear us? You bet!

Congresswoman Elaine Luria, a freshman lawmaker from Virginia’s Second District, announced that she is leading a bipartisan bill, H.R. 1620, to provide $445 million for the Bay Program over the next five years. She is joined by fellow Virginia cosponsors, Congressmen Bobby Scott (VA-03) and Rob Wittman (VA-01).

In addition to Representatives Luria, Scott, and Wittman, JRA met with the offices of Senator Mark Warner and Representatives Donald McEachin, Denver Riggleman, Ben Cline and Abigail Spanberger. We thanked all of Virginia’s leaders for their ongoing support, and we encouraged them to keep up the fight for clean water by investing $90 million in the Bay Program next fiscal year. That means rejecting the President’s proposal Monday to cut this funding by 90%.

More federal funding can have a big impact on local rivers and streams. At least two out of every three dollars invested in EPA’s Bay Program go directly to states, communities, and non-profit organizations through grants to protect local water quality and reduce polluted runoff.

At JRA, we used funding from a Chesapeake Stewardship Grant to install over 7 miles of livestock exclusion fencing, restore more than 18 acres of riparian stream buffers, and plant almost 4,500 trees in the James River watershed. The impact on our water? Stopping over 700 pounds of nitrogen, more than 100 pounds of phosphorus, and almost 40 tons of sediment from reaching the James River each year!

Cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay takes an “All Hands On Deck” approach, with every state and sector doing their part to improve the health of our waterways. Federal funding helps keep us moving forward by encouraging states, localities, and all our Bay partners to invest their own resources, making everyone’s contribution go further.

Want to help spread the message? Contact your representatives in Congress and ask them to cosponsor H.R. 1620 and to support $90 million for EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program in 2020!