FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 21, 2023
Top James River Priorities Addressed in Governor’s Budget;
Opportunities Remain for 2024 General Assembly
Yesterday, Gov. Glenn Youngkin unveiled his proposed biennial budget for Virginia. The budget includes over $500 million in investments for the Commonwealth’s environmental stewardship, including Agricultural Best Management Practices, Richmond’s Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) project, and freshwater mussel restoration. These investments, which will be directed toward clean water and conservation programs, emphasize the importance of water quality, flooding mitigation, parks, dam safety, land preservation, and habitat restoration.
James River Association (JRA) President and CEO, Bill Street, issued the following statement:
“As stewards of the James River, we welcome this Administration’s commitment to conservation and applaud the significant investments in critical areas that directly impact the James River and Virginia’s other waterways.”
“The James River Association commends Gov. Youngkin’s commitment to fully funding the implementation of Agricultural Best Management Practices recognizing the vital role farmers and landowners play in stewardship of the watershed. By supporting these practices, Virginia takes a giant leap towards addressing the issue of sediment pollution, which was noted in the 2023 State of the James report as one of the top negative impacts on the health of the James.”
“Furthermore, the James River Association values the allocation of $50 million for continued funding of the City of Richmond’s Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) projects. Upgrades to this outdated but critical infrastructure will have a lasting positive impact on the James River and people who use it. JRA will continue to work with the City and partners to pursue additional funding for the entire scope of the projects, which are estimated to cost up to $800 million.”
“Additionally, JRA is pleased to see the inclusion of over $2 million in funding for freshwater mussel restoration, which has been a key priority of the organization for many years. As filter feeders, freshwater mussels play a crucial role in maintaining healthy river ecosystems, and this funding will contribute significantly to their propagation and expansion, restoring this vital but depleted element of the river ecosystem.”
“As we approach the 2024 session, JRA will continue to work with lawmakers to find funding for other critical conservation priorities not included in the proposed budget including American Shad recovery efforts, long-term riparian buffer programming, and wastewater treatment plant upgrades. The James River Association looks forward to collaborating with the Youngkin administration and members of the General Assembly to ensure the effective implementation of these initiatives and the future well-being of Virginia’s natural resources.”
ABOUT THE JAMES RIVER ASSOCIATION:
James River Association (JRA) is a member-supported nonprofit organization founded in 1976 that serves the waterways and communities of the James River. Throughout the James River’s 10,000 square mile watershed, JRA works toward its vision of a fully healthy James River supporting thriving communities. JRA believes that “when you change the James, the James changes you.” With offices in Lynchburg, Richmond, Williamsburg, and Scottsville, JRA is committed to protecting the James River and connecting people to it. For more information visit www.thejamesriver.org.