Virginia aims to reduce polluted runoff, advance Chesapeake Bay restoration


RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Governor Ralph Northam signed an Executive Order on Thursday afternoon that set pollution reduction targets for lands within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The Order specifically targets land owned by state agencies and public institutions of higher education.

“Stormwater runoff is among the most harmful and challenging sources of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries,” said Governor Northam. “Virginia has taken bold action to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution and we have made meaningful progress, but we must step up these efforts to achieve our clean water goals by 2025. As one of the largest landowners in the Bay watershed, this directive will ensure that the Commonwealth leads by example.”

This executive order follows the 2019 Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan that aimed to achieve the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load by 2025. Since then, experts have worked to produce a State Lands Watershed Implementation Plan (SWIP) by mapping state lands, calculating runoff pollution targets, and identifying conservation practices that when implemented will reduce nutrient and sediment pollution.

SWIP’s goal is to reduce or offset unregulated, nonpoint source pollution originating from state lands within Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay watershed. It aims to reduce 122,000 pounds of nitrogen and 10,100 pounds of phosphorus.

“State agencies and institutions of higher education must take the same steps to restore the Chesapeake Bay that the Commonwealth is expecting of farmers, homeowners, private businesses, and local governments,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler.

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