Stormwater management efforts in VA state to grow with new grants

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Dec. 31, 2013 -- The state of Virginia has awarded $22.9 million in grants to provide 31 localities with extensive stormwater pollution reduction efforts.

The funding, administered by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), was included in Governor Bob McDonnell's budget and established by the 2013 General Assembly. It makes $35 million available to local governments as matching grants for best management practices (BMPs) that reduce pollution from stormwater runoff.

The DEQ will award the remaining $12.1 million through another grant round in 2014. This will enable applicants not selected this year to identify other options for improving water quality, focusing on cost-effectiveness and enhanced stormwater management plans addressing required water quality improvements. Governor McDonnell included another $20 million in the second year of his proposed budget for additional projects.

The governer announced the grant awards under the new Stormwater Local Assistance Fund on Saturday, Dec. 28. "These grants are another step forward in our efforts to assist localities and continue improving water quality in the Commonwealth," he said. "By targeting the needs of local governments, we are helping to reduce pollution in our waterways and cleaning up our environment."

The approved projects are designed to reduce levels of phosphorus -- a key pollutant in stormwater. Accordingly, they have relatively high environmental benefits in terms of pounds of phosphorus removed per year, and they are the most cost-effective of the proposals that DEQ considered.

In the last four years, the state of Virginia has reduced nitrogen pollution by 11.1 precent, phosphorus pollution by 7.7 percent, and sediment pollution by 6.9 percent in state waters. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded Virginia with their "Biggest Loser Award" in recognition of these efforts.

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