The Virginia State Capitol building. Credit: Ron Cogswell
The 2017 General Assembly Session kicked off last week, and our friends at the James River Association are hard at work speaking up for the James River and its watershed. I thought it was worth sharing their priorities for the session. If theirs match up with your priorities for the James, consider contacting your representative and making your voice heard. Or, better yet, if you’re inspired to come to the halls of the General Assembly yourself, you can join the JRA and other groups for Water Lobby Day, scheduled for February 9th. Click here to find out more and register.
In order to reach the James River Association’s goals for a fully healthy James River and fulfill Virginia’s constitutional commitment to protect our waters, we urge your support of the following critical actions:
Support Water Quality and Land Conservation Funding
Virginia has made significant investments in water quality and land conservation over the last two decades resulting in major pollution reductions and improvements to local water quality. In order to keep Virginia on track with meeting our restoration goals, continued investment is necessary.
Support Proper Coal Ash Management
The James River watershed is home to coal ash ponds capable of holding five billion gallons of coal ash. Each pond in the watershed is adjacent to the river or one of its tributaries. Coal ash, which is a waste product of the electricity generation process, contains arsenic, lead and mercury among other toxics. Virginia’s code does not require utilities to demonstrate that their coal ash ponds are not contaminating surface and groundwater prior to the issuance of a solid waste permit for their closure. We must ensure that these ponds are properly evaluated and are not closed in the midst of ongoing contamination.
Protecting Our Valuable Oyster Reefs
Did you know that oysters have been around for 15 million years? Oysters in the James River are rebounding due to restoration efforts and harvest restrictions to ensure the protection of vital stock. In order to stay on this path, it is important to maintain current protections and ensure no backsliding occurs.