McDonnell announces new $31 million investment in clean water

virginia-blue-oversizeGov. Bob McDonnell announced on Friday that a new deposit of over $31 million will be made to the Commonwealth’s Water Quality Improvement Fund (WQIF) as a portion of the most recent budget surplus, the fourth in the four years of the McDonnell administration.

The total amount that will be deposited to the WQIF during the Governor’s term is more than $218 million, with a cumulative investment in all water quality programs now reaching $430 million over the last three and a half years. The governor will announce Virginia’s total surplus amount and discuss the uses of the funds at his annual fiscal presentation to the Virginia General Assembly money committees on August 19th.

Speaking about the new funding for clean water, Governor Bob McDonnell stated, “Over the course of our administration, we have made a strong commitment to improving the health of Virginia’s waterways and the Chesapeake Bay.  Together with the General Assembly, we have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to this end and the citizens of Virginia are enjoying cleaner water as a result. Clean water and environmental conservation are crucial to a strong economy and robust private-sector job creation.”

In addition to the deposit to the WQIF, the 2013 General Assembly supported the Governor’s $221 million water quality bond fund to improve wastewater treatment plants across the state, combined sewer overflows, a drinking water facility, and to fund a new urban stormwater investment program.  These monies are currently available for critically needed infrastructure improvements.

“We commend and thank Gov. McDonnell and the members of the General Assembly for their leadership and continued stewardship of our critical water resources.  The bond funding represents a huge victory for the James River and will help improve long-term water quality as well as the health of local streams and creeks,” said Bill Street, Chief Executive Officer of the James River Association. “The additional funds announced today will help even more.”

The water quality bond fund includes $101 million to support projects in roughly 30 localities across the state for upgrades to wastewater treatment, and $35 million for a new stormwater grant program for localities.

“Due to strategic investments and smart state policies, Virginia is shining brightly in the Chesapeake Bay cleanup,” according to Chris Pomeroy, who represents the Virginia Association of Municipal Wastewater Agencies and the Virginia Municipal Stormwater Association.  “Our local agency members will build on the significant achievements they have already made to clean wastewater to higher levels and remove more stormwater pollutants as a result of the Commonwealth investing $101 million in treatment plant upgrades this year and launching the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund with $35 million.”

As part of the bond fund, the City of Richmond will receive $45 million and Lynchburg will receive $30 million for improvements to their Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) facilities.  The Hopewell Wastewater Treatment Authority will receive $5 million for upgrades to its waste water treatment plant and the Appomattox River Water Authority will receive $5 million for upgrades.

“We are grateful to the governor and the General Assembly for this investment in improvements for our combined sewer overflow,” Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones stated.  “This funding will help us complete the next phase of work and to continue to do our part to improve the health of the James River.”

The Mayor of Lynchburg, Michael Gillette said, “The City of Lynchburg is extremely pleased to accept the $30 million grant from the Commonwealth and appreciates the support of the Governor and General Assembly.  It will fund up to half of the City’s revised Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) program.  This along with the City’s contribution will greatly accelerate the completion of this important program ultimately leading to the achievement of water quality goals.”

Deposits to the WQIF, the clean water bond, general fund appropriations, and deposits from the recordation tax will all add up to over $430 million in state support for clean water programs during the McDonnell administration.

In addition to these significant monetary investments, there have been some major accomplishments in improving the overall health of the Bay during McDonnell’s tenure.

  • ·         Approval of Virginia’s Phase I and II Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • ·         Legislation passed removing phosphorus from usable fertilizer beginning December 31, 2013.
  • ·         Exceeding the 2011 EPA Pollution reduction milestone goals for wastewater treatment plants by 2,000 percent which exceeds 2013 nitrogen reduction goals by more than 680,000 pounds.
  • ·         Receiving the EPA’s “Biggest Loser Award” for reducing non-point source nitrogen pollution more than any other state in Region 3.
  • ·         The highest blue crab population that Virginia has experienced in twenty years in 2012, along with a historic comeback of the oyster population, with the highest harvest numbers seen since 1989.
  • ·         Legislation expanding the nutrient credit exchange program, a key tool in meeting and maintaining water quality in the Bay.

“Virginia has been a leader in pollution reduction activities,” said Anthony Moore, Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources.  “We have won awards from EPA and are consistently exceeding pollution reduction goals set out in the Watershed Implementation Plan.”

         
 

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