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Editorial: Saving the Bay - A Good Investment

Cleaning up the water that runs into the Chesapeake Bay will help create jobs and economic activity in Virginia.

A plan to raise $300 million in bonds to upgrade wastewater treatment plants around the commonwealth stalled in a House of Delegates committee last week, a setback in meeting EPA requirements to clean up the water that leads to the Bay. Money is tight, lawmakers say, although an identical plan cleared the Senate.

Let's be clear that part of what we're talking about by delay is continuing to allow raw sewage to run into Virginia's waterways every time it rains.

This is like deciding to let the toilets in the house overflow rather than spend money on the plumber. Not only is it unhealthy and unpleasant, it also makes Virginia less attractive for tourists and eco-tourists.

Upgrading the sewage treatment plants will generate jobs, but also upgrade the quality of the water Virginians depend on for drinking, household and business use and recreation.

More than 30 years of "saving" the Chesapeake Bay has accomplished about half of what needs to be done. The bay is primary attraction for tourists in Virginia, and is the basis for many jobs. The investment in the health of the bay is a jobs bill for Virginia.

Aside from upgrading the treatment plants, states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed will need to find ways slow the pace of stormwater runoff, do better with erosion control, change some agricultural practices to keep "fertilizer" from rushing into waterways every time it rains, and more. Efforts made upstream by other states will also benefit Virginia's waterways. There are new green and more cost effective ways to go about many of these tasks.

The mission will also need the continued involvement of individuals and organizations who are dedicated to the Chesapeake Bay.

It's an investment that will pay dividends for Virginia.

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