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Virginia Universities Asked to Prevent Pollution in Chesapeake Bay

A crab walks along the beach (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)
Beach with trash
A can sits on a beach by the Chesapeake Bay. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)
Two people fishing
Two people fishing (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)
The Coleman Bridge over the York River (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)
A jellyfish (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)
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In a mission to clean the Chesapeake Bay, Gov. Ralph Northam is asking universities to play their part and help keep pollution out of  Virginia’s waterways.

Northam’s executive directive, Virginia Leading by Example to Restore the Chesapeake Bay and Its Tributaries, intends to bring state lands on board with the long-term goal to improve Chesapeake Bay water quality. Colleges and Universities will have to identify how they pollute and then produce plans to reduce this pollution.

Campuses produce pollution in different ways. More rural campuses with inadequately managed agricultural programs may send run-off from fertilizers and waste into the waterways, while urban campuses primarily contribute pollution through storm water run-off and lawn maintenance.

Campus-related pollution may also come from facility wastewater and vehicle air emissions. Those emissions are ultimately deposited in our waterways through rain.

 “So one of the great objectives of the directive is to ask universities and colleges, do you need all this grass, maybe you can turn some of that grassy area into a different kind of vegetation,” said Peggy Sanner, Virginia executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.  

Sanner says other proven approaches schools should consider are to plant winter cover crops and capture stormwater through rain gardens.

Plans will be individualized for institutions based on the ways they pollute the Chesapeake Bay. The governor’s office will collaborate with schools on that process.

These plans must be implemented by 2025.