RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam Tuesday signed Executive Directive Seventeen setting pollution reduction targets for lands within the Chesapeake Bay watershed that are owned by state agencies and public institutions of higher education. Nonpoint source pollution, also known as polluted runoff, occurs when stormwater moves over the ground collecting pollutants like excess nutrients, sediment, and toxins that degrade water quality and harm living resources.

“Stormwater runoff is among the most harmful and challenging sources of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries,” said Governor Northam. “Virginia has taken bold action to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution and we have made meaningful progress, but we must step up these efforts to achieve our clean water goals by 2025. As one of the largest landowners in the Bay watershed, this directive will ensure that the Commonwealth leads by example.”

In 2019, Virginia released its Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan to achieve the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load by 2025 that included a commitment to develop a plan specific to state lands. Over the past year, a team of experts from state agencies and public institutions from higher education worked at the direction of the Governor’s Conservation Cabinet to produce a State Lands Watershed Implementation Plan (SWIP) by mapping state lands, calculating runoff pollution targets, and identifying conservation practices that when implemented will reduce nutrient and sediment pollution.

The goal of the SWIP is to achieve significant reductions in, or to offset unregulated, nonpoint source pollution originating from state lands within Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay watershed. The SWIP required the development of a comprehensive dataset of over 400,000 acres of state lands within the Chesapeake Bay watershed and calculation of pollution load reductions using the Chesapeake Bay Watershed model. The SWIP details reduction targets of 122,000 pounds of nitrogen and 10,100 pounds of phosphorus and specifies eleven programmatic actions to achieve success.