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Virginians Want Clean Water – Just Ask Them

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The headline on a Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) press release today says it all: “Huge Majority of Virginians Back Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Plan.”

Perhaps that doesn’t come as a surprise to Bay Daily readers, but sometimes public policymakers and elected officials need a reminder that clean water, healthy streams, and a restored Bay are genuine priorities for Virginians. Lots of them. Huge majorities of them.

The CBF press release summarized the results of bipartisan statewide polling done last month of Virginia voters likely to cast ballots this November. If you didn’t know, Virginians will elect a new governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and all 100 members of its House of Delegates this fall.

Regardless of who wins, one issue with which all of these elected officials will grapple is restoring clean water to the Chesapeake Bay and other state waterways. Consider that more than 13,000 miles of Virginia rivers and streams are “impaired” (polluted), according to the U.S. EPA and Virginia environmental officials. That includes nearly all of the Chesapeake Bay. Sadly, dirty water is virtually everywhere across the Commonwealth.

The sources of all this water pollution are many and well known: dirty runoff from farms, city streets, and suburban lawns; inadequate and leaky sewer systems; failed septic tanks; even air pollution.

The good news is that Virginia has a solid, achievable plan to reduce pollution and put in place measures to ensure clean water and a restored Bay by 2025. It’s called the state’s Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. The Bay’s health already is starting to show improvement due to past efforts, and Virginia’s plan, if fully implemented, will keep progress moving forward.

Of course, fully implementing the plan won’t be easy and won’t be cheap, but the other good news is, Virginians really want it done.

The recent polling results were overwhelming: More than 90 percent of Virginia voters support the Commonwealth’s plan to restore the Bay and want the next governor to move forward on implementing the Clean Water Blueprint. Fully 86 percent believe the Chesapeake Bay should be a priority in Virginia.

Nearly three-quarters of voters believe clean water and a healthy Bay don’t conflict with a strong DSC_0003 economy, and a near-unanimous 96 percent agree that ensuring clean water “is an important role of state government, and the governor and state leaders need to work together to help meet this basic need of all Virginians.”

“The poll results dramatically underscore just how important restoring our streams and the Bay is to overwhelming numbers of Virginians, regardless of demographic, regional or political affiliations,” said Ann Jennings, CBF Virginia Executive Director. “Voters favor candidates who support continued implementation of Virginia’s plan to reduce pollution in the Bay.”

In fact, 77 percent of those polled said clean water issues and the health of Virginia’s local waterways are important to them in making voting decisions, including 20 percent who say these issues are the primary factor in deciding how to vote.

CrabsVoters also believe that the efforts to restore the Bay will have significant economic benefits for the state. Nearly half (48 percent) say they think the Bay Blueprint plan will create jobs. That’s more than three times as many who say it will cost jobs (15 percent).

And with November looming, 95 percent of Virginia voters said they want the next governor to move forward with the state’s plan to restore the Bay.

The poll results cut across all the usual regional, demographic and political divides. In short, Virginians of all stripes want state government and the next governor to keep Bay restoration efforts on track.

If you think your elected officials aren’t sure about that, please share the poll results with them. You can find them at cbf.org/va4thebay.

Chuck Epes

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

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