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Cleaning the Chesapeake Bay

With a businessman in the governor’s mansion and a legislature talking about cutting costs, one environmental group is moving to assure that there’s enough money set aside to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. 

It argues that for every dollar the state invests in keeping pollutants out of rivers and streams, it will gain $4 in benefits.

We’ve seen economic reports on how fishing, shipping, recreational boating and tourism on the Bay benefit the state of Virginia, but now the Chesapeake Bay Foundation is looking at a bigger picture. 

Director Ann Jennings says planting trees along stream and river banks helps prevent erosion, and fencing cattle keeps manure out of our drinking water.  For every dollar spent, she says, we could save $27 on water treatment.  “The wetlands, the forests help to filter runoff and provide clean water.” 

And a cleaner Chesapeake Bay could increase the value of seafood caught there.  The oyster harvest is already up, but blue crabs are still in decline, as pollution destroys sea grass beds.

“Blue crabs require underwater grasses in order to shelter when they’re young.   Until we bring those back, there’s a question of whether or not we can stabilize that population.”

Already, Jennings says, there’s been some improvement thanks to new pollution limits known as the Clean Water Blueprint.

“We have seen tremendous progress in reducing pollution from wastewater treatment plants – great progress.”

But, she says, cities need to do more to control polluted runoff – to slow and filter water that carries oil, antifreeze and other chemicals from parking lots and roads into streams, and farmers need to do their part.  The foundation wants Virginia to provide financial assistance to both rural and urban residents  to help them comply with the Blueprint.  The governor is now crafting his budget for release in mid-December. 

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