Landmark Chesapeake Bay cleanup investment ready for Governor’s approval

March 4, 2021

Landmark Chesapeake Bay legislation that will save localities money, provide greater certainty to wastewater treatment plants, and provide a clear roadmap for achieving the goals and obligations of the Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP III) have now passed the General Assembly and await action by Governor Ralph Northam.

HB 2129 (Lopez) and SB 1354 (Hanger) establish a framework and timeline for wastewater treatment plants to undertake improvement projects to achieve specific goals in nitrogen and phosphorous reductions.  These goals, and the specific timelines introduced in this legislation, will ensure the wastewater sector – and the Commonwealth as a whole – will meet their Chesapeake Bay nutrient reduction targets by the WIP’s 2025 deadline.

The chief objective of HB 2129 and SB 1354 is to provide greater certainty and clarity to local governments and wastewater facilities while also working to roll out upgrades and improvements in the most cost-effective manner possible.  The total estimated cost of the necessary projects is approximately $800 million over a five-year period via the Water Quality Improvement Fund (WQIF), but the framework established in these bills will save approximately $173 million compared to what the Commonwealth previously proposed.

In their final forms, SB 1354 passed the House, 65-35, and the Senate, 39-0, while HB 2129 passed the House, 63-34, and the Senate, 38-1.  The bills are now before Governor Northam, who has until March 31 to act on the legislation.

VACo supported HB 2129 and SB 1354 and was pleased to speak in favor of these bills numerous times throughout the legislative session.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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