Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

November 16, 2012

Stormwater standards —  Welcomed assistance for Southwest Va.

Many small towns and cities across the region are faced with the unique challenge of meeting state and federal stormwater standards. That’s why the award of more than $2 million in grant funding from the state of Virginia is welcomed, and should help the localities in complying with the Virginia Stormwater Management Act and other applicable state and federal regulations.

Gov. Bob McDonnell announced the award of 59 Virginia Locality Stormwater Program Development grants Thursday. McDonnell said the grants will assist more than 100 local governments in developing locally run programs to reduce stormwater runoff from development lands.

 Grant recipients in Southwest Virginia include the town of Bluefield, Va., Bland County, Buchanan County, Giles County, Tazewell County, Russell County, Wythe County and the town of Wytheville.

“Awarding these grants is an important step in developing programs that meet state and federal stormwater standards while keeping oversight of local projects in local hands,” McDonnell said. “They help lessen the burden on local governments in developing programs that protect our local waters and streams statewide.”

The grant awards range from $6,000 to $105,000. The awards reflect the requested funding from the localities and are proportional to the scope of each application.

Most applications were submitted by individual counties or municipalities. Several grants were also awarded to planning districts or regional commissions and soil and water conservation districts that will assist the local governments in meeting the state and federal rules.

The Virginia General Assembly passed legislation earlier this year calling for all Virginia counties and municipalities to create local stormwater management programs.

Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech says the grant awards will enable the localities to protect water quality across the Commonwealth.

The grants are administered by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. They are a combination of state Water Quality Improvement Act funding and federal Clean Water Act, Non-Point Pollution funds and Chesapeake Bay Regulatory and Accountability Act funds allocated to Virginia from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

All too often we see unfunded federal and state mandates imposed upon localities across the region. When such mandates come down from the federal government — and without funding assistance to comply with the new rules — it can create a difficult and unfair financial burden on small towns, cities and counties.

That’s why the stormwater grant awards are welcomed, and should go a long way in helping towns such as Bluefield and Wytheville comply with the new rules.

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