When rain and melting snow run off the roofs and roads into the rivers, it gathers up toxic dirt, trash, chemicals, and disease-carrying organisms. Studies have shown that the pollution from this stormwater is almost as bad as the pollution that comes from factories and sewage plants.
According to an article published in Water World, the state of Virginia is taking the problem seriously with large grants to implement stormwater BMP (Best Management Practices) to reduce run off and improve water quality.
The state of Virginia has awarded $22.9 million in grants to provide 31 localities with extensive stormwater pollution reduction efforts.
The funding, administered by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), was included in Governor Bob McDonnell’s budget and established by the 2013 General Assembly. It makes $35 million available to local governments as matching grants for best management practices (BMPs) that reduce pollution from stormwater runoff.
The DEQ will award the remaining $12.1 million through another grant round in 2014. This will enable applicants not selected this year to identify other options for improving water quality, focusing on cost-effectiveness and enhanced stormwater management plans addressing required water quality improvements. Governor McDonnell included another $20 million in the second year of his proposed budget for additional projects.
One of the key pollutants in stormwater is phosphorus, which occurs in many forms. It is found in fertilizers that are used for agriculture as well as on residential and commercial properties. Too much phosphorus in aquatic systems causes proliferation of phytoplankton, which is a microscopic algae.
Nitrogen is the other pollutant that comes with stormwater runoff which is also a key ingredient in fertilizers. Excess amounts of bioavailable nitrogen in aquatic systems leads to algae blooms that can poison the water due to toxins produced by the algae, as well as deplete oxygen levels.
One of the main goals of the approved projects is to reduce levels of phosphorus and nitrogen, which Virginia is already a leader in since this problem has come to the public’s attention. Now with extra funds being put toward greater improvements in stormwater BMPS, even better water quality is possible.
The grants will also be good for Virginia’s economy. Many companies such as HydroLogic Solutions who offer advanced StormChamber® water management technologies, will be able to maintain their business with the awards of contracts, keeping many employed and creating additional jobs.
(Article Excerpt and Image from Stormwater management efforts in VA state to grow with new grants, Water World, Dec. 31, 2013)