The Times-Dispatch reported yesterday that the budget passed by the General Assembly on Saturday includes “big bucks for improvements to water quality.” As Mike Martz, Olympia Meola and Jim Nolan reported, those big bucks include: $45 million for Richmond to reduce polluted overflows of sewage and storm water into the James during heavy rains — reflecting $5 million on top of the $40 million Gov. Bob McDonnell recommended. Lynchburg, upriver from Richmond, would get $30 million for its combined-sewer overflow problem in return for a promise not to return for more state help. The budget also includes $5 million to help Hopewell remove nutrients that pollute the Chesapeake Bay at its sewage treatment plant and $5 million to expand drinking-water supplies at the Appomattox River Water Authority.
The James River at Belle Isle
The James River Association released a statement over the weekend praising the governor and the General Assembly members for “dedicating $221 million in bonds for water quality protection as part of the state budget of which significant elements will go to cleaning up the James River. An additional $26 million was also approved for assistance at the local level.”
“We commend and thank Governor McDonnell and the members of the General Assembly for their leadership and continued stewardship of our critical water resources. This 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 bonding of $221 million includes numerous investments that will benefit the James River, the JRA press release said, including:
- Upgrading wastewater treatment plants including Norfolk, Hopewell, Richmond and Covington
- Reducing sewage overflows in Lynchburg and Richmond
- Establishing a new funding program to help urban areas conduct capital projects to reduce polluted runoff from stormwater
The General Assembly additionally provided $26 million in funding for the following water quality initiatives:
- Assisting localities in development of stormwater management programs and policies
- Providing funding and technical assistance to farmers for conservation practices that reduce pollution