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Bay Blog: Richmond


Chesapeake Executive Council discusses Bay restoration progress, re-elects Lisa Jackson as chair at annual meeting

The Chesapeake Executive Council announced progress toward Chesapeake Bay cleanup milestones, discussed plans for meeting requirements of the Bay “pollution diet,” and encouraged individual Bay stewardship at its annual meeting on July 11 in Richmond, Virginia.

Executive Council members in attendance included U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator and Executive Council Chair Lisa Jackson; Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell; Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley; Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett; District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray; Chesapeake Bay Commission Chair Sen. Michael Brubaker; U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan; and representatives from Delaware, New York and West Virginia.

Chesapeake Bay Program partners are currently working toward short-term pollution reduction goals called milestones. All seven Bay jurisdictions are currently on-track or ahead of schedule in meeting these milestones. The deadline for the current set of two-year milestones is December 31, 2011.

Executive Council members also talked about their watershed implementation plans (WIPs), local restoration plans that show how each jurisdiction will meet pollution reductions required by the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. The jurisdictions are now in the second phase of developing their draft plans, which are due at the end of 2011.

Additionally, the Bay Program’s three advisory committees – Citizens, Local Government, and Scientific and Technical – presented to the Executive Council about Bay restoration activities from their unique areas of expertise.

The 2011 Executive Council meeting was held at the Maymont Foundation, located on the James River in Richmond. Executive Council members spent part of the afternoon touring exhibits on topics such as native plants, Bay-friendly lawn care, and soil health and testing. The location was chosen to highlight the meeting’s “Get Grounded in Tour Watershed” theme, which stresses the importance of connecting people with their local waterways. Through its Nature Center and educational programs, Maymont offers local residents a place to learn about and connect with Virginia’s environment.

"The focus of our discussions today was on empowering every citizen in the Bay watershed to be part of restoring these important waters,” said Jackson. “The actions of federal, state and local governments are just the beginning of revitalizing the Bay. We are also counting on the partnership of millions of people who live in this region to join in protecting the waters that support their health, their environment and their economy."

The Executive Council sets the policy agenda for the Chesapeake Bay Program. Visit our Chesapeake Executive Council page for more information.


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.

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