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Commonwealth's Counties

County officials meet with EPA Region 3 Administrator to discuss Bay Program

Fairfax County Supervisor Penny Gross (third from right), King George County Supervisor Ruby Brabo (center in red) and VACo’s Larry Land (far left) were among the state association and county leaders from states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed who met with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region III Administrator Shawn Garvin at NACo headquarters to discuss bay restoration and strengthening partnerships.

On October 12 county representatives from six states met with EPA Region 3 Administrator Shawn Garvin to discuss the impacts on local governments of new mandates associated with Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts. The meeting was held in Washington, D.C., and hosted by the National Association of Counties. In addition to Virginia, the five other states represented at the meeting were Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The Virginia Association of Counties was represented by Penny Gross of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (and Immediate past VACo President); Ruby Brabo, Chair of the King George County Board of Supervisors; and Larry Land, VACo staff.

By December 2018, all states that are part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed will be expected to submit to U.S. EPA their respective Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs). Through this planning process, states will be expected to demonstrate how they will have all practices in place by 2025 that will be necessary to achieve specific pollutant loading reductions. These Plans could include a whole suite of activities, including upgrades to urban stormwater systems, more improvements to wastewater treatment programs, agriculture and other activities. Over the past few months one issue that has caused major concern is a possible requirement imposed by EPA on local governments to meet specific local area pollutant reduction targets, or “Local Area Targets” (LATs.)  During the meeting, Garvin expressed willingness to address concerns voiced by local officials over the LAT issue.

By January, EPA is scheduled to submit to all “Bay” states a set of draft “expectations” relating to components EPA will expect to find in each state WIP. The final version of EPA’s “expectations” document is scheduled for release to the states by the end of April 2017. It is in this “expectations” document that LATs may or may not be included. Over the past four months, a multistate work group has been meeting with EPA to assist with development of the “expectations” document. The work group membership is comprised of local and state agency representatives from each Bay state. Ruby Brabo is Virginia’s county representative on the work group. The work group is scheduled to finish its work within the next few weeks.

The next two years will be very active for the sixty-five counties in Virginia that are part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. By August of 2018, Virginia is expected to submit to EPA its draft WIP. VACo will be closely monitoring this process to make sure that the development of the WIP will be a process that will include counties. The final WIP is to be submitted to EPA by the end of 2018.

VACo Contact: Larry Land, CAE

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