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Great News! Virginia is the Biggest Loser…

By: Ann Neil Cosby. This was posted Friday, July 6th, 2012

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…of pollution loads that is. Governor McDonnell just announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 3 has awarded Virginia their “Biggest Loser” for ranking first in the region and second in the nation for reducing nitrogen pollution as reported through the Clean Water Act nonpoint source program. This means Virginia has prevented 2.5 million pounds of nitrogen from entering streams and lakes. In addition, Virginia’s major wastewater facilities in 2011 exceeded pollution reduction goals by more than 2,000 percent for nitrogen and more than 450 percent for phosphorus.

The state’s goals or “milestones” were established to improve accountability and measure progress toward meeting water quality goals through reductions of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment. While Virginia is required to meet certain pollutant load reductions under its Chesapeake Bay TMDL Watershed Implementation Plan (or WIP), efforts to clean up the bay have been ongoing for decades. In looking ahead, the Governor announced that Virginia is “well on track to meet future two-year ‘milestones’ for bay restoration.”

Virginia’s success not only keeps the EPA from imposing potentially costly “backstops” on the state, but means tangible improvements to the bay’s fragile eco-systems. According to Anthony Moore, Deputy Secretary for Chesapeake Bay Restoration, there has been a “major rebound in populations of blue crabs, oysters, osprey, eagles, Atlantic striped bass and flounder.”

The Administration said that Virginia’s success in pollution reduction are the direct result of nutrient management planning for farms, and state and local investments in sewage treatment plant upgrades. Perhaps the best news comes from the Governor’s Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech who declared “our progress to date clearly shows that a restored bay is possible.”

That is good news for Virginia, and great news for the Chesapeake Bay.

The Governor’s Press Release is available at http://www.governor.virginia.gov/

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