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Going the Last Mile

In summer of 2018, Phase III of the Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) was initiated as a continued effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The WIPs were created as a roadmap for Planning District Commissions (PDCs) to identify best management practices—or BMPs—and programmatic strategies to reduce nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment loads in the Bay.

Virginia Phosphorus Loads

The reduction in pounds of phosphorus in Virginia from 2009 to 2017 (from the grey bar to yellow, to the green bar respectively). The WIP Phase III is on track to reach its Planning Targets in reductions by 2025 (red bar).

The Berkley Group worked with the George Washington Regional Commission (GWRC), the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission (MPPDC), and the Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission (A-NPDC) to identify Programmatic Actions and BMPs that reflected realistic, local priorities.

On behalf of the three Planning District Commissions, the Berkley Group was tasked to: 1) coordinate four meetings for localities, state agency staff, and local NGOs; 2) revise the BMP Input Deck provided by DEQ based on local feedback and goals; 3) identify Programmatic Actions that would further aid localities to meet the Local Area Planning Goals or LAPGs. Although the Phase III tasks were identical, each PDC had unique approaches and concerns about how to meet their LAPGs and what resources would be necessary to do so.

The WIP Process

The meetings at the George Washington Regional Commission focused on green infrastructure and maintaining strong relationships between the localities and NGOs. The Berkley Group facilitated discussions where participants identified BMPs including bioswales, rain gardens and septic management that would allow GWRC to meet the Phase III goals. However, the Berkley Group heard prominent concerns about gaps in capacity and funding to implement certain BMPs. Despite limited resources, the passion for saving the Bay was indistinguishable among all stakeholders.

The Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission’s approach to Phase III aimed to answer the question, “Why hasn’t anyone tried ____ to improve water quality AND create jobs?” The ingenuity that spawned from this question led to innovative Programmatic Actions that would not only clean the Bay, but also create local jobs and industries in rural coastal Virginia. One Programmatic Action included growing ten billion oysters in the Bay, creating over 18,000 jobs. The Berkley Group and MPPDC worked tirelessly to define, refine, and consolidate these creative ideas into realistic goals and implementable actions throughout the Phase III process.

In the Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission, energetic discussions surrounded themes of economic development, costal resiliency, and natural resource management. Conversations led to analyzing the impacts of creating new industries such as oysters, while also protecting the area’s pristine natural resources with living shorelines. The Berkley Group worked closely with stakeholders to refine the BMP Input Deck and identify gaps preventing the PDC from committing to exploratory or unrealistic BMPs.

A-NPDC WIP III Meeting 1

Throughout this four-month process, the Berkley Group worked relentlessly to ensure that each Planning District Commission’s local concerns and ideas were accurately reflected in the final report submitted on December 14, 2018 to DEQ. While the Chesapeake Bay has seen incredible reductions of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment loads over the last decade, there is still a lot left to do.

Let us go the last mile and give localities the tools to protect the Chesapeake Bay.

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