Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine announced in December that he would introduce legislation authorizing $250 million in bonds to help upgrade sewage-treatment plants in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Under the measure, which has to be approved by the General Assembly, the Virginia Public Building Authority would issue the bonds to provide funds to help localities install technology upgrades at municipal plants that would reduce nutrient pollution discharges into state waters.
“Through this partnership with our local governments, we will be able to accomplish with this $250 million bond package what few have thought possible: We will have the resources to meet the sewage treatment-plant discharge requirements of the Chesapeake Bay agreement,’’ Kaine said in a statement.
The money would be on top of about $250 million appropriated by the General Assembly last year to help upgrade plants.
Virginia and other Bay states in the Chesapeake 2000 agreement committed to achieving necessary nutrient and sediment reductions by 2010 to restore the Bay water quality.
About 89 major wastewater treatment plants are located in the state’s portion of the watershed and most need upgrades to meet new nutrient limits being placed in their discharge permits.
Funds from the bond would be used to provide matching grants and low-interest loans to municipalities to upgrade their plants with nitrogen– and phosphorus-control technologies.
More than 60 localities have already applied to the state for matching funds, requesting a total of $630 million, so they can begin construction.
“This proposal would close a significant gap in efforts to address the Bay’s critical water-quality problems,” Chesapeake Bay Foundation Virginia Executive Director Ann Jennings said in a statement. “Local sewage treatment plants are the single largest source of nitrogen pollution now going into Virginia’s rivers and the Chesapeake Bay, and funding their upgrades is a huge step forward.”
The bond proposal also drew praise from the state’s home builder’s association. “Future economic development success in Virginia will be directly linked to the discharge capacity of the commonwealth’s wastewater treatment facilities,” said association president Rich Napier.