RICHMOND—Monday Governor Ralph Northam  kicked off a new phase of Virginia’s efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries. Working with local communities, elected officials and technical experts, Virginia will prepare a third phase of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan to ensure that pollution control measures to reduce excess nutrients and soil runoff are in place no later than 2025.

“The Commonwealth has made great strides in reducing nitrogen and phosphorus pollution to the Chesapeake Bay, reaching our goal of reducing nutrient pollution by 60% by 2017. As a result, the Bay is responding—underwater grasses, water clarity, and living resources are improving,”said Governor Northam. “However, there is still much more work to do to achieve our goal of a fully restored Chesapeake Bay. My administration is committed to working with communities across Virginia to design a Bay clean-up plan firmly grounded in the ideas and needs of our local communities.”

As part of this initiative, the Commonwealth will partner with regional Planning District Commissions (PDCs) and local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) in Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay watershed. Virginia’s PDCs are uniquely positioned to facilitate local government cooperation and state-local cooperation in addressing regional problems of greater than local significance, specifically in matters of environmental management. Virginia’s local SWCDs expertly guide landowners, particularly farmers, in the stewardship and sustainable use of natural resources.

Virginia’s Departments of Environmental Quality and Conservation and Recreation will engage PDCs and SWCDs in identifying and refining the suite of pollution control measures for reducing polluted runoff and seeking input from local officials, farmers, developers, businesses, and the public. These endeavors are supported through grant funding from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program.