CHARLES CITY, Va. (WAVY) — On Wednesday, Governor Ralph Northam announced that he is proposing a two-year budget that will provide funding for the Chesapeake Bay, clean water infrastructure and conserving the Commonwealth’s natural resources.
That proposal brings the total that has been dedicated to restoring the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia’s tidal tributaries to more than $1 billion in the past four years.
“Virginia pledged to reduce pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries to meet clean water goals by 2025,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “My budget will ensure that the Commonwealth lives up to its commitment and restores the natural bounty of the Chesapeake Bay. By assisting farmers and localities implementing our Bay clean-up plan, my budget supports the economic, public health, recreation and quality of life benefits of a restored Bay for future generations.”
The proposal includes $286 million to fully fund the Virginia Natural Resources Commitment Fund that works to assist farmers and landowners to implement clean water and conservation practices. Additionally, funding will provide technical assistance for farmers and landowners to implement conservation practices.
More than $233 million will be used to address the inequities in clean water accessibility by tackling outdated sewer systems and failing septics. The proposal includes a $165 million investment to support the cities of Richmond, Lynchburg, and Alexandria and $68.6 million in funding for local municipal wastewater needs.
“Virginia is facing a 2025 deadline to meet Clean Water Act mandates for reducing pollution to the Chesapeake Bay,” said Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources Ann Jennings. “This historic investment in the Bay responds to calls from coalitions of local government, business and conservation interests. With this funding, we know that a saved Bay is within reach and one that will benefit all Virginians.”
Additionally, more than Northam has proposed more than $10 million for the Virginia Land Conservation and supports the conservation of forest and farmland through a $5 million investment to the Office of Farmland Preservation.
The funds will be used to address the shortage in seedling availability by re-establishing the New Kent Nursery, expanding the Urban and Community Forestry Program, and increasing tree planting.
“Collaboration is key to ensuring the protection of the Chesapeake Bay and other important watersheds and lands across our great commonwealth,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “These bold investments in our farmland and forests in rural and urban areas, further demonstrate the critical role they play in protecting our environment, building healthier communities, and growing our economy.”