FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 2, 2021
Marketing & Communications Manager
James River Association
James River Association Applauds General Assembly for Landmark Investments in Clean Water
On Saturday, the General Assembly passed a budget that includes landmark investments of over $200 million in critical programs to restore Virginia’s rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. That includes funding for reducing nutrient and sediment pollution from agricultural lands, to address stormwater runoff from urban and suburban communities, and for critical upgrades to wastewater treatment facilities.
Bill Street, Chief Executive Officer of the James River Association, released the following statement: “We applaud the Governor and General Assembly for committing a historic level of funding this year to support a cleaner, healthier future for Virginia’s natural resources. This year’s final budget marks just the fourth time that annual water quality appropriations have exceeded $200 million and makes the 2021-2022 biennium Virginia’s largest investment ever in clean water programs. These bold investments are a major step forward for Virginia in meeting the 2025 goals under the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup and achieving a fully healthy James River.
The James River Association and the millions of citizens that depend on and cherish our Commonwealth’s waters thank Governor Northam and the leaders in the General Assembly for their strong commitment to clean water.”
House Bill 1800, as passed by the General Assembly this weekend, includes consequential investments in programs and agencies that will protect clean water and restore Virginia’s rivers:
- $100 million for upgrading pollution removal technology at wastewater treatment facilities, to deliver cleaner water to the James River and the Chesapeake Bay. This funding joins an additional $50 million for wastewater improvements approved by the General Assembly in 2020, and will help ensure wastewater facilities meet the requirements of newly passed legislation: SB1354 (Senator Hanger) and HB2129 (Delegate Lopez).
- $69 million for the Water Quality Improvement Fund, including $65 million for installing conservation practices on agricultural lands to keep nutrients in the soil and reduce runoff. This follows upon significant investments passed in 2020 ($46 million) and 2019 ($74 million) to increase the pace of installation and avoid mandatory backstop legislation passed last year.
- $25 million for the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund, which helps urban and suburban localities install stormwater management projects by providing matching state dollars. This investment joins $50 million in stormwater funding approved last year. Newly passed legislation by Senator Lewis (SB1404) will expand the types of projects eligible for funding and will allow fiscally stressed communities to receive a higher state funding match.
- $12 million for the Department of Environmental Quality to increase monitoring, enforcement, and equitable public outreach for programs that protect our air, land, and water, as called for by Governor Northam’s Executive Order 6.
The bill also includes notable investments in Fiscal Year 2022 for environmental literacy programs ($250,000), a study of PFAS chemical contamination in drinking water ($60,000), and additional tree seedlings to support more forested buffers ($290,000).
ABOUT THE JAMES RIVER ASSOCIATION: The James River Association is a member-supported nonprofit organization founded in 1976 to serve as a guardian and voice for the James River. Throughout the James River’s 10,000-square mile watershed, the James River Association works toward its vision of a fully healthy James River supporting thriving communities. With offices in Lynchburg, Richmond, Williamsburg, and Scottsville, the James River Association is committed to protecting the James River and connecting people to it. For more information visit www.thejamesriver.org.