RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today released for public review and comment a new restoration plan for Virginia’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The plan, referred to as the Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan, will guide local, state, and federal actions through 2025 and is designed to achieve the Commonwealth’s commitments to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution.
The Commonwealth has made significant progress in reducing pollution, and the Bay’s living resources are responding. Cleaner waters are supporting more fish and oysters and underwater grasses are rebounding. Continuing that progress will necessitate accelerated and more significant action by government, wastewater utilities, the agriculture industry, landowners and homeowners, lawn care companies, the general public, and many more. The Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan serves as a blueprint for action.
“We know that simply maintaining our current level of efforts will not get us across the finish line in time—that’s why my administration is committed to putting the Commonwealth on a solid path toward cleaner water and a fully restored Chesapeake Bay,” said Governor Northam. “Our plan identifies the additional deliberate, focused, and science-based actions necessary to meet our shared goals, and will serve as a roadmap for addressing pollution and cleaning up the Bay. Together, we can take specific steps to ensure that future generations of Virginians have the opportunity to enjoy our waterways, and build a healthier, more diverse economy with improved recreation and tourism opportunities, additional water-based industries, and more sustainable land uses.”
“This plan will ensure that Virginia achieves its pollution reduction goals no later than 2025 and prioritizes actions that are practical, cost-effective, and provide multiple benefits to the Commonwealth, whether that is flood control, coastal resilience, wildlife habitat or economic development,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler.
“For the past year, we have engaged local planning district and regional commissions and soil and water conservation districts to guide development of our plan,” said Director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality David Paylor. “Their on-the-ground expertise and experience proved critical to preparing an effective plan.”
The public is invited to review the draft Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan and provide recommendations during the comment period. All comments received on or before June 7, 2019, will be considered. The draft Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan can be found here.
Secretary Strickler’s letter to the Environmental Protection Agency is available here.
A webinar will be held on May 13, 2019, at 9 a.m., and repeated at 6 p.m., to share information about the draft Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan. The webinar will provide an overview of the plan and provide information about the comment submittal process. During the webinar, the public is invited to ask questions, which will be answered in the order they are received as time allows. All questions will be compiled and addressed in a Frequently Asked Questions document that will be available with the final Watershed Implementation Plan. The webinar will be recorded and available for future viewing on DEQ website.
To register for the 9 a.m. webinar on May 13, visit https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/1461104016153487873 (if the link does not open, please copy and paste the link into your browser).
To register for the 6 p.m. webinar on May 13, visit https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/1788373652161109249 (if the link does not open, please copy and paste the link into your browser).
Written comments on the draft Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan can be submitted by any of the three methods listed below. Please include the name and mailing address (or e-mail address) of the commenter.
- E-mail: chesbayplan@DEQ.Virginia.gov
- Postal mail: DEQ, ATTN: Chesbayplan, P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA 23218
- Hand-delivery: DEQ, ATTN: Chesbayplan, 1111 East Main Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219 (Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., except on state holidays and any other days on which state offices in the Richmond area are closed.)