Join us as strong voice for the Rappahannock River

at the state level. 

The 2020 General Assembly session starts January 8th. We are prioritizing these issues and will regularly update this page.

We will include info on bill progress and how you can make a difference for the river. Your voices are vital! 

Funding for Clean Water

River Issue: The ability of FOR to work for improved health of the Rappahannock River partially relies on the proper funding of clean water programs through Virginia’s state budget. These clean water programs include funding for agricultural best management practices, assistance for stormwater projects for localities, wastewater treatment plant upgrades, and oyster restoration.

  • $182 million for the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund (SLAF) to provide much needed funding for stormwater management and flood mitigation in our urban and suburban communities
  • $120 million for wastewater treatment upgrades to protect water quality and public health in our communities
  • $100 million for the Virginia Agricultural Cost-Share Program to help farmers protect their land with conservation practices and restore their local streams
  • $8 million for Oyster Reef Replenishment and Restoration to support our local seafood economy, local watermen, coastal habitats, and water quality

Legislation: The Administration’s proposed budget provides funding for clean water programs at record-breaking levels but statewide needs assessments show even more ambitious funding is needed to meet the goals of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup. We support the proposed amendment 373 #3s / 373 #3h that would increase Virginia Conservation Assistance Program by $1.5 million.

FOR’s Position: We will advocate for the proposed funding levels to be included in any final budget bill the General Assembly approves.

Single-use Plastics/Expanded Polystyrene

River Issue: These items constitute the majority of litter we pull out of the river and clean up from the rivers’ banks every year.

Legislation: Multiple bills proposing to place a tax and/or ban some single-use plastic and expanded polystyrene products have been introduced.

FOR’s Position: FOR supports giving localities the option to place a tax or ban on these products. We currently support 2 bills:

  • HB 1151 introduced by Delegate Lopez 

  • SB 193 introduced by Senator Favola
Menhaden

River Issue: These forage fish serve as an important food source for many commercially and recreationally important finfish in the Rappahannock River and the Chesapeake Bay. 

Management of menhaden is currently regulated by the General Assembly. This allows the management of menhaden to be subject to politics when science should guide any decisions that are made in relation to menhaden fisheries.

Legislation: Multiple bills have been introduced that would move management of menhaden to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC).

FOR’s Position: We support bills that move management of menhaden to VMRC and we support bills that result in Virginia’s compliance with Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s menhaden catch limits. We currently support:

  • HB 11448 introduced by Delegate Plum 

  • SB 791 introduced by Senator Lewis
Fracking: Prohibiting Hydraulic Fracturing in the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area

River Issue: Hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) is a drilling method used to extract oil and natural gas. This process requires injecting a toxic combination of chemicals into the ground that can contaminate groundwater aquifers and surface waters. Fracking uses large amounts of freshwater, and can disrupt the agricultural and rural fabric of our tidal river communities. The Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area (EVGMA) is located east of Interstate 95. The EVGMA includes the Rappahannock River watershed where natural gas reserves have been found.

Legislation: A bill has been introduced (SB 106) and has passed the Senate. This bill prohibits hydraulic fracturing in the EVGMA.

FOR’s Position: We support this bill and are leading the effort to pass it. 

We will regularly update this page to provide you information on bill progress and how you can make a difference for the river. Your voices are vital!