Watershed Improvement Program (WIP)
Contributing to Chesapeake Bay Water Quality
The Final Report delivered to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation outlines activities undertaken jointly by the Rivanna River Basin Commission and the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) from August 2011 through May 2012.
The report details the assistance that RRBC provided to Albemarle, Fluvanna, and Greene Counties and the City of Charlottesville to help them develop information requested by the Commonwealth of Virginia for the Phase II Watershed Implementation Plan for the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. The report also covers TJPDC’s assistance to the counties of Louisa and Nelson, as well as activities undertaken together by the RRBC and TJPDC to reach out to multiple stakeholders in the community.
A partnership project of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission and the Rivanna River Basin Commission, with funding support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, this work is a continuation of the Piedmont Regional Pilot Project undertaken in 2010 and early 2011.
RRBC has also received funding assistance from the Choose Clean Water coalition to serve and engage with our local government partners during the process of developing information and data for Virginia’s Phase II Watershed Implementation Plan due to EPA on December 15, 2011, (draft), and on March 30, 2012 (final).
Since October 2011, Rivanna River Basin Commission has been working with Thomas Jefferson SWCD, Culpeper SWCD, and Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission to compile the requested information, to evaluate strategies that are being or could be employed by localities, and to identify what resources will be required in the future to meet water quality goals.
On October 5, 2011, and further clarified on November 8, 2011, DCR requested information from all localities in Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay watershed to help Virginia develop the Phase II Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP II) for the Chesapeake Bay TMDL.
Rivanna watershed localities’ submissions to DCR:
The Bay TMDL, sometimes referred to as a “pollution diet,” establishes limits for the amount of nutrients and sediment allowed to flow into the Bay that have resulted in water quality that cannot support aquatic life in the Bay. The TMDL will be realized through the development and execution of Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) that include pollution limits for point sources (permitted sources such as wastewater treatment plants and urban stormwater systems) and non-point sources (diffuse, non-permitted sources such as agricultural lands and suburban stormwater). Virginia is preparing the Phase II plan and has requested information from local governments about current land use, current level of best management practices (BMPs) for agriculture, urban, and other sectors, planned implementation of BMPs by 2025, and strategies and resources needed to meet 2025 implementation goals.
DCR will aggregate the local data and strategies submitted to verify, through the Chesapeake Bay model, that Virginia will succeed at achieving the pollution reduction goals as set forth in the Phase I Watershed Implementation Plan. If information is not provided by a locality, then default data will be used. (The default data is output from the Chesapeake Bay model, which is generally inaccurate at the county and city scale.) Both EPA and DCR have stated that the data will not be used to develop specific load reductions for each locality (with the exception of highly developed cities and counties that have special permits) and EPA does not have authority to do so.
This information request is an opportunity for local governments to provide information that will improve the accuracy of the Chesapeake Bay watershed model at the local scale. The information being requested also allows local governments the opportunity to identify and assess strategies and resource gaps for implementing practices that will result in water quality improvements at the local scale as well as in the Chesapeake Bay, as required by federal regulatory requirements. It is well understood by everyone that these cleanup activities will be costly and require increased resources at the state and local level. (The Senate Finance Committee report of November 2011 states that the cost to the state will be in the billions.)
Phase II Watershed Implementation Plans will describe how each state will implement reduction strategies at the locality level and are under development now. Draft Phase II WIPs are due to EPA in November 2011 and final Phase II WIPs due in early 2012. Virginia has indicated that it plans to work through the Planning District Commissions in the Bay watershed to engage local governments in Phase II WIPs. The Rivanna River Basin Commission has recommended that watershed science be the basis for developing Phase II WIPs. See these recommendations here.