Campaign for Virginia’s Water Future Update
Water Quality and DEQ Reform in 2021!
Wild Virginia, and you, have made some major strides in the newly-named Campaign for Virginia’s Water Future during 2020, and we are excited to move into the new year! We will participate in decision-making processes the state has begun and also push our own initiatives to protect Virginia’s water.
State Water Control Board
Wild Virginia and 55 other groups submitted a set of requests to the Virginia State Water Board before its meeting on September 24, 2020. And more than 600 individuals signed a petition supporting those requests (go here and add your name to that list).
While neither DEQ nor the Board addressed our submittal specifically, the Board made it clear that it expected the DEQ to develop numeric water quality criteria, which advances one of our four goals. This will quantify accountability measures.
We have also learned that DEQ proposes to develop criteria to address algae problems in the Shenandoah River watershed. This will move us part of the way toward another of our goals, to get numeric nutrient criteria applicable across the state.
At the Water Board’s December meeting, DEQ responded to our platform with extensive presentations; an indication that the Board took our concerns seriously and let DEQ know that they are expected to address those issues and answer questions related to our requests.
Before the December Board meeting, Wild Virginia volunteered to serve on regulatory review panels to develop the numeric criteria mentioned above. We also insisted that DEQ must include parties with a broad array of interests and experiences, including those advocating environmental justice responses, landowners and water users directly impacted by pollution, and others.
We are all impacted by the health of Virginia’s water and the kinds of changes we are asking the Water Board to make, though they seem technical and confusing to the general public, are vital to your use and enjoyment of your waters. Your opinions on these issues matter and, even if you are not a scientist or a lawyer, you know what dirty water looks like and how it damages your lives and infringes on your rights. You have a right to speak for those values.
There are numerous opportunities for us all to advance our goals during 2021 and we will keep you updated, so you and your advocacy groups can mobilize and be effective at making a difference.
It is we the people, watchdog organizations like Wild Virginia and allied organizations and individuals that hold our agencies accountable and ensure the health of Virginia’s Water Future!