Thursday, December 1, 2022

Chesapeake Bay Executive Council pushes for Billion for the Bay Initiative

The James River from along the Colonial Parkway at dusk. (WYDaily/Courtesy of the James River Association)

HAMPTON ROADS PENINSULA — A letter sent to congressional leaders from the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council outlines what could possibly be a huge boost to local infrastructure and environmental efforts concerning the Bay and the communities within its watershed.

The proposal described the Billion for the Bay Initiative, which calls for federal funding which would be crucial to stimulating state and local economies and for sustaining efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay, including its tributaries, such as the James and York rivers.

The initiative also seeks to grow local jobs while underpinning a decades-long effort to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution from agricultural lands, from urban and suburban storm water runoff, and from wastewater treatment facilities.

According to the letter, every million dollars invested in clean water infrastructure can create more than 16 jobs. Thus, the Initiative could add tens of thousands of job opportunities around the bay area.

Building green infrastructure, restoring natural landscapes and upgrading water infrastructure is central to the initiative’s aim of helping bay jurisdictions adapt to climate change and meet the 2025 deadline to implement the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Plan.

Per the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, practices should be in place that ultimately will reduce pollution levels to the point that the Chesapeake Bay can be removed from EPA’s “dirty waters” list. States and municipalities have until 2025 to reach this goal.

Governor Northam chairs the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council, which is represented by governors from each of the six Chesapeake Bay states, the Mayor of the District of Columbia, and the Chair of Chesapeake Bay Commission, according to a news release from the James River Association (JRA).

“This infusion of federal support is truly needed to help communities recover faster and meet their 2025 goals under the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Plan,” said Bill Street, Chief Executive Officer of the JRA. “A fully healthy James River will support thriving communities for generations to come. We urge Congress to heed this bold, bipartisan commitment to a thriving clean water economy.”

Click here to read the letter.

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