In September of this year, the Common-wealth of Virginia submitted a draft version of their Chesapeake Bay TMDL Phase I Watershed Implementation Plan. In this plan, Virginia laid out their plans for achieving the reduction in nutrient loading necessary to achieve EPA’s water quality goals for the Chesapeake Bay. After review by EPA, it was described as having “serious” deficiencies. Following are some of the items that will impact agriculture.
First it is worth noting that progress to-wards achieving water quality in the Chesapeake Bay is predicted by numerous computer models. The one that will be tasked with measuring agricultural pro-gress is the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Model. Rather than actually measuring the level of soil, nitrogen and phosphorus in tributaries, the model credits nutrient re-ductions achieved by Best Management Practices (BMPs) against the estimated base line nutrient loading based on the amount and type of agriculture present in any given watershed. Therefore, to achieve their target loads states will have to docu-ment that sufficient additional BMP’s have been installed to reach the assigned load allocation.
To this end, Virginia’s WIP focuses on docu-menting as many BMP’s as possible. One part of this approach is to develop a sys-tem to capture and document the many voluntary BMP’s that have been and will be implemented on Virginia farms. Secondly, they intend to expand cost sharing oppor-tunities through the Virginia Agricultural Cost Share program through expanded funding. They also indicate that they might consider tying the ability to receive land use taxation rates to the adoption of cer-tain BMP’s.
In contrast to the voluntary nature of the Virginia WIP, EPA’s criticisms suggest a more regulatory approach. They suggest that placing all Animal Feeding Operations under the regulatory umbrella of the cur-rent VPA permit would be more acceptable to them. For more information on the Vir-ginia plan, visit DEQ’s Bay TMDL website at http://www.deq.state.va.us/tmdl/chesapeakebay.html
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Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Alan L. Grant, Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; Jewel E. Hairston, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State, Petersburg.
November 1, 2010