Virginia is moving into Phase Two of its Chesapeake restoration plan—as mandated by the federal government. This means that localities along the Chesapeake Bay watershed must have their own plans in place as required by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Deputy Secretary Anthony Moore says the six states and District of Columbia in the Bay restoration project have been working on this for years. The EPA first mandated that they develop nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment reduction goals. In Phase Two, localities must develop their own plans and will assess their progress in five years—when they must have achieved 60% of their goals. Virginia has provided tens of millions of dollars each year for this, and Moore was asked if Washington was doing its part.
“We have made it clear that this is an unfunded mandate by the Federal Government and the Federal Government needs to continue to help us fund this program,” said Moore, who added that localities have also contributed for their regional benefits.
“Nitrogen and phosphorus levels have gone down, our oyster population is coming back, the crab population is doing better than expected—rockfish, bald eagles–we’ve seen lots of improvement but we still understand that we still have a little ways to go.”
Moore says soon they will conduct an analysis to determine the state’s return on its investment. He also says volunteer cleanup efforts contribute significantly and help mitigate costs to the state.