Local Commentary

Senator Whipple’s Richmond Report

mmwhipplemugAt a ceremony at Mount Vernon on Tuesday, I was honored to receive, along with Senator Ralph Northam of Norfolk, the Legislator of the Year Award from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The award was presented by Governor Kaine on the grounds of the Mansion overlooking the Potomac River, a clear reminder of the importance of the work of the Bay Foundation and all those who are working to improve water quality in the streams and rivers of the Commonwealth.

 

The presentation preceded the meeting of the Executive Council of the Chesapeake Bay Commission attended by the Governors of Virginia and Maryland, and the Mayor of the District of Columbia. The Chesapeake Bay Commission was represented by its Chair, Delegate John Cosgrove of Chesapeake.

The Governor announced the new two-year milestones for the Chesapeake Bay watershed states. The EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson, and the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Jay Jensen, were present and gave the good news of the Obama administration’s Executive Order concerning the restoration of the Bay.

The previous week I had lobbied the Virginia delegation to the Congress on behalf of the Chesapeake Bay Commission. Every May the Commission holds its quarterly meeting in Washington and includes a day of visits on Capitol Hill to Virginia’s Senators and Members of Congress.

We were fortunate that almost all the Virginia Members were able to meet with us. We visited Senator Mark Warner, Representatives Connally, Moran, Nye, Perrriello, Scott, Wittman and Wolf, and staff of Senator Webb and Congressman Cantor, to discuss the Chesapeake Bay Commission’s 2009 congressional priorities.

A major topic was the need to install enhanced nutrient removal technology at the Blue Plains water treatment plant. This plant is the largest single point source of pollution into the Potomac River and ultimately the Bay. Virginia has made great strides in recent years in reducing point source pollution and so has Maryland. Now it’s time to make improvements at Blue Plains. Because U.S.

Government buildings send their waste water to the plant, we hope to enlist federal support in improving Blue Plains. The District of Columbia is already under court order to solve its combined sewer overflow problem that sends untreated sewage into the river when heavy rains occur.

Also on the priority list is including storm water management in the transportation bill so when new or expanded roads are built the water will be handled properly. And we didn’t neglect to remind them of the funding needed for the Chesapeake Bay Commission itself.

There are some bright spots in the restoration of the bay with increases in sub aquatic vegetation and an amazing one=year increase in blue crabs after the moratorium, but much remains to be done. Each of us can play a part — by using less fertilizer in our yards, minimizing runoff, economizing on our use of water, and never, ever putting used oil down a drain. Together we can “Save the Bay.