Virginia to reduce water pollution, increase access to clean water
Virginia plans to allocate $411.5 million in federal American Rescue Plan funding to reduce water pollution and increase access to clean water across the Commonwealth.
The proposal will make substantial investments in aging water systems and improve drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure.
The announcement is part of Investment Week, during which Gov. Ralph Northam and legislative leaders will highlight proposals for distributing the $4.3 billion in ARP funding available to the Commonwealth in advance of the August 2nd special session.
“With this funding, we have a tremendous opportunity to rebuild our aging water systems and ensure every Virginia family has reliable access to safe, clean drinking water,” Northam said. “In addition to modernizing water and sewer infrastructure across the Commonwealth, these investments will go a long way towards restoring the health of our waterways and reducing pollution in our communities.”
The proposal includes $186.5 million for wastewater treatment and nutrient removal, $125 million for combined sewer overflow projects in Richmond, Alexandria, and Lynchburg, and $100 million to assist water systems in small and disadvantaged communities.
These proposed investments supplement more than $300 million in ARP funding that the Commonwealth sent to towns in June and $2.3 billion made available to Virginia’s 133 counties and cities directly from the federal government to meet local response and recovery needs, which include improving access to clean drinking water and to supporting vital wastewater and stormwater infrastructure.
“Protecting the environment, and particularly providing for sanitary disposal of wastewater, is critical to public health and the economy,” said Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources Matthew J. Strickler. “These investments will put us even closer to restoring the Chesapeake Bay, and will clean up streams and improve septic and sewer systems across the Commonwealth.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of ensuring all Virginians have access to basic necessities—safe housing, quality health care, food security, and reliable utilities,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey, MD, MHCM. “Investing in our water systems will help advance health equity and ensure a robust economic recovery.”
Clean water supports overall public health by preventing water-related ailments, increasing sanitation, and enabling food production. Affordable and reliable access to clean water is also important for driving economic activity across a broad range of industries, from tourism and outdoor recreation to agriculture and manufacturing.
“Maintaining wastewater infrastructure is an essential function of government,” said Sen. Mamie Locke. “I am grateful to my colleagues in the General Assembly and to Gov. Northam for investing in this issue that has gone unaddressed for far too long.”
“This is a public health issue, an economic issue, and an equity issue,” said House Majority Leader Charniele Herring. “This investment means more Virginians can focus on leading healthy lives and taking pride in their communities, not worrying about high utility bills.”
“As someone who values our natural ecosystems, I am excited to see the tremendous benefits this will bring to improving the health of watersheds across the Commonwealth,” said Sen. David Marsden. “It is critical to use these federal funds to make permanent improvements in our fight for clean water.”
“Every Virginian deserves access to clean water and we know that a healthy environment is the backbone of a strong economy,” said Del. David Bulova. “I look forward to continuing to work with the Administration and my fellow legislators to make Virginia the healthiest state in the nation.”