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Chesapeake Bay News

Archives: June 2010


Richmond, Virginia's Capitol Square to Go Green

Richmond, Virginia’s Capitol Square is about to become one of the most environmentally friendly capitols in the nation, with a series of green construction projects set to begin this summer.

The projects, including a retrofit of the capitol grounds and select streets and alleys, aim to reduce polluted stormwater runoff to the James River, a major tributary of the Chesapeake Bay.

The “Greening Virginia’s Capitol” project was developed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), the Virginia Department of General Services (DGS), the City of Richmond and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. The project, in the works for several years but put on hold due to budget cuts, is being funded by a $798,988 grant from the Chesapeake Bay Program and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

A major goal of the project is to let stormwater slowly infiltrate into the ground, rather than flowing freely across pavement and directly into the James River. Rain gardens and pervious pavement will absorb and filter runoff, cleaning it before it can reach groundwater supplies.

All phases of the project are anticipated to be completed by spring 2011, when experts estimate that overall stormwater runoff from Capitol Square will be reduced by 64 percent. Phosphorus runoff will be reduced by 69 percent and nitrogen will be reduced by 70 percent.

The first phase of the project is to “green” of alleys at 5th and 12th streets. Other phases will include:

  • A rain garden installed on the bus loop
  • Rain gardens installed along portions of 9th and 10th streets
  • A rain garden installed at the Bell Tower
  • Pervious pavement installed to replace the steps leading down the hill from the Washington Equestrian Statue
  • Pervious sidewalk installed by the front of the Edgar Allen Poe statue

The Greening Virginia’s Capitol project be used by Virginia DCR as a model of how to reduce stormwater runoff in an urban setting.

The project will also show citizens and officials throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed how simple changes can make a huge difference in the amount of polluted runoff that reaches the Bay and its streams, creeks and rivers.

Greening Virginia’s Capitol has also been selected as one of the first landscapes to participate in the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES), a new program testing the nation’s first rating system for green landscape design, construction and maintenance.

To learn more about the Greening Virginia’s Capitol project, visit www.greenvacapitol.org.


Question of the Week: What is the difference between the Chesapeake Bay Program and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation?

Welcome to the latest installment of the BayBlog Question of the Week! Each week, we take a question submitted on the Chesapeake Bay Program website or a frequently asked question and answer it here for all to read.

This week’s question comes from Megan: “What is the difference between the Chesapeake Bay Program and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation? Are they the same organization?”

The Chesapeake Bay Program and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation are not the same organization, although they are frequently confused.

The Chesapeake Bay Program is a regional partnership leading the Bay restoration effort since 1983. Our partnership comprises:

Bay Program partners work together toward Bay health and restoration goals in five areas:

Each of these areas includes goals set by the Goal Implementation Teams and reported on annually in the Bay Barometer.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded in the 1960s and committed to the mission of “Saving the Bay.” The Foundation works to do four things: educate, advocate, litigate and restore. The Foundation hosts a comprehensive education program for students; actively advocates for issues the Bay faces; executes litigation to enhance enforcement, defines an agenda and enforce progress; and works hands-on to restore the Bay to its former beauty and health.

CBF actively accepts members into its organization and is an advocacy group, whereas the Chesapeake Bay Program is a partnership among government and non-government organizations working on the policy and regulations of Chesapeake Bay restoration. CBF works closely with the Chesapeake Bay Program on a number of issues and goal areas.

For more information about how the Chesapeake Bay Program works, go here for a listing of partners, organizational structure and actions.

For more information about the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, check out their About Us page or Strategic Plan.

Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Ask us and we might choose your question for the next Question of the Week! You can also ask us a question via Twitter by sending a reply to @chesbayprogram! Be sure to follow us there for all the latest in Bay news and events!



U.S. Department of Agriculture to Showcase Conservation Practices on Farmland

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will expand outreach and innovative conservation practices on farmland in three small watersheds in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia to show how focusing funding, sound science and strong partnerships in small geographic areas can help improve the health of local waterways and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.

The three small watersheds, called “showcase watersheds,” are:

  •     The 23,000-acre upper Chester River watershed on Maryland’s Eastern Shore
  •     The 34,000-acre Conewago Creek watershed in central Pennsylvania
  •     The 67,000-acre Smith Creek watershed in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

USDA’s goal is to reach out to all of the farmers in each watershed to learn about the types of voluntary conservation practices they are currently using and to let them know about opportunities for financial and technical assistance.

Each watershed has its own restoration goals and will receive additional funding and staff to help increase the use of agricultural conservation practices on local farms. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is also contributing funding, and the U.S. Geological Survey will conduct local water monitoring. Local watershed groups and nonprofits are also involved in the efforts.

The showcase watersheds concept is part of the USDA’s plan to implement new conservation practices on four million acres of farmland in the Bay watershed by 2025, a commitment included in the federal government’s recently released Strategy for Restoration and Protection of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

“The showcase watersheds strengthen USDA’s commitment to funding priority conservation practices in places that will do the most good for water quality in the Bay and its tributaries,” said USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan at an event to announce the showcase watersheds.

The USDA’s Bay watershed work is funded in large part by the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative, which was established in the 2008 Farm Bill and provides $188 million from 2009-2012.

Visit the USDA’s website for more information about the showcase watersheds and other Chesapeake Bay activities.


Will the Gulf of Mexico oil spill affect the Chesapeake Bay?

We've received a lot of questions lately about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and if it will affect the Chesapeake Bay. The general scientific consensus right now is that it is unlikely that oil from the Gulf will reach the Chesapeake Bay, but experts continue to monitor the situation to stay ahead of any changes in the oil's projected path.

A few Bay Program partners have posted information about the oil spill in relation to the Chesapeake Bay:

  • The Maryland Department of the Environment has set up a Gulf Oil Spill Emergency Response page with detailed information about Maryland's monitoring efforts and cleanup response capabilities.
  • The Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) has an excellent Gulf Spill FAQ page that answers questions such as "Will Gulf oil reach Virginia?" and "How might any Gulf oil impact Virginia?"
  • Old Dominion University Oceanography Professor Larry Atkinson has created a page about the oil spill that focuses on potential effects to the East Coast.

Additionally, scientists and experts from many Bay Program partners are lending their time and expertise to the response effort in the Gulf region. Some examples include:

Here's a sampling of some recent news articles and blog entries about the oil spill and the Bay:

For more information about the Gulf oil spill, visit the following websites:

We'll update this blog entry with any additional information about the Gulf oil spill and its potential effect on the Bay.

Keywords: Pollution, health
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