If you’re like me, “Back to School” can only mean one thing… a mad scramble to finish your summer reading on time! This summer, Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) had a little summer reading of its own, reviewing over 4,800 public comments about Virginia’s draft plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and restore its tributaries.
The overwhelming majority of these comments supported Virginia’s Cleanup Plan and urged DEQ to keep it strong and get everyone involved in protecting our water and our watershed. Many of those comments came from James Changers like you who shared personal messages about what clean water and a healthy James River mean to you.
Your support made a difference. DEQ took your comments, made some changes, and put out a final Cleanup Plan that charts a course for a restored Bay and a “Grade A” James River. What’s in this 223 page final plan? Glad you asked.
Virginia’s Final Cleanup Plan – Abridged!
- 56 state initiatives that call on every sector to step it up to protect local water quality.
- Stronger wastewater treatment, particularly for the James River, where we’ve lagged behind the rest of the state.
- Clear deadlines for fencing livestock out of streams and putting nutrient management plans in place.
- Commitments to pursue better funding and assistance for farmers and communities working to protect their local streams.
- More trees in our cities, throughout our towns, and on our streambanks to prevent soil erosion and soak up nutrient pollution.
- A proactive approach that plans for climate change and more frequent storms.
Right now, the Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing Virginia’s plan to determine if we made the grade. To pass, the plan must have a reasonable shot at reaching Virginia’s pollution reduction targets by 2025.
In the meantime, we know a plan is only as good as the follow-through — and that takes resources. We need a budget that invests in wastewater treatment plant upgrades on the James River, that encourages every farmer to install conservation practices on their land, and that helps all communities, big and small, tackle stormwater and reduce runoff.
We’re calling on Governor Northam to fully fund the Cleanup Plan in his upcoming budget, and we’re urging Virginia’s General Assembly to push that funding across the finish line.
Help amplify our call for clean water. Become a RiverRep.