Va. Governor Wants to Spend $773 Million to Save the Bay

Governor Northam during the 30th Annual Clean the Bay Day. Photo: Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam wants to put more money into the Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort than Virginia ever has in state history.

The governor’s proposed 2020 budget marks the beginning of a larger five-year plan to spend almost three-quarters of a billion dollars to improve water quality.

The Northam administration suggested increases for for several Bay restoration efforts in 2020, including:

●$90 million for the state’s “agricultural best management practices cost-share program,” experts to help farmers, and programs dedicated to fight runoff

●$50 million for the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund, to reduce impervious surface pollution

●$11 million to support the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation and the governor’s conservation strategy

●$2.5 million for additional staffing at the Department of Environmental Equality

The increases would be part of a multi-year investment plan totaling nearly $775 million through 2024. “This five-year plan would represent the largest investment in water quality needs in the history of the Commonwealth and the largest dedication of consistent clean water funding ever,” according to the Northam administration,

Governor Northam says dedicating more funds is another step forward in the state’s pledge to work for a cleaner Bay. “There is no time like the present to take action to ensure the protection of Virginia’s natural resources, and these historic investments will ensure that the Commonwealth honors its commitments to improve water quality and to protect the progress we’ve made on restoring the Chesapeake.”

Northam has long had a personal connection to the Bay; he grew up on the waterfront near Onancock, worked as a fishing charter deckhand and on a Tangier Island ferry, and has credited his desire to protect the Bay as being part of his inspiration to run for governor.

Rebecca Tomazin, Virginia Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, says the additional funding would be a big step toward catching up with other Bay states’ restoration efforts.

“It’s thrilling that the Governor is ramping up a multi-year financial commitment to restore our waters,” she says. “Virginia’s natural resources are vital to our environment, economy, and way of life, yet remain underfunded. With state finances in strong shape, now is the perfect opportunity for Virginia to catch up with neighboring states that have long  invested more in their lands and waters.”

Laura Adams Boycourt