Pictured: Cherrystone Creek, courtesy of At Altitude Gallery.
The US. Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) has recently evaluated Phase III of Virginia’s Watershed Implementation Plan.
While EPA does not approve or disapprove a WIP, it provides assessment for the benefit of the Chesapeake Bay Program jurisdictions and may provide additional recommendations for strengthening the plan.
The EPA found Virginia’s plan meets its numeric planning targets for nitrogen and phosphorus at the state and statebasin (Potomac, Rappahannock, York, James and the Eastern Shore) levels. Virginia proposes to achieve most of its pollutant reductions by implementing best management practices(BMP) in the agricultural sector– 76% for nitrogen and 56% for phosphorus.
The remainder of proposed pollutant reductions come primarily from enhancements to existing programs for stormwater management and the natural sector, which includes preservation of forests and wetlands and controls on stream bed and bank loads. Virginia also proposes to shift reductions between sectors through enhancement and implementation of its existing program for trading and offsetting.
Virginia identified eleven specific BMPs that account for 60% of the WIP nitrogen load reduction moving forward. The EPA determined that, for confidence the planned load reductions will occur, Virginia’s WIP could have included detailed explanations about how the state will strengthen these practices and programs, including the inspection and maintenance of the BMPs already implemented.