Virginia's Watershed Implementation Plan

The Commonwealth's Clean Water Blueprint charts the course to clean water

To clean up the Bay, we must improve the health of the local streams and rivers that feed into it.

Virginia's Clean Water Blueprint is the single most important roadmap for restoring the Commonwealth's waters. Also known as the Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan (or WIP), it offers a realistic course for meeting Virginia's goals for reducing pollution by 2025. If fully implemented, it will vastly improve the health of rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay.

A draft of the final update to Virginia's Blueprint was released on April 5, 2019, and will be open for public comment through June 7, 2019. This period will be critical to the Blueprint's success. Change is always challenging, and some will resist this excellent plan. Now is the time to show your support for the Blueprint and ensure clean water for future generations. With your feedback, Virginia can help lead the way to an amazing environmental success story. 

Read the draft Blueprint here, go to Virginia's WIP website, or send your comments directly to

History of Virginia's Clean Water Blueprint

This stage marks the culmination of decades of effort. In December 2010—after years of missed deadlines for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay—the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released science-based pollution limits (technically known as the Total Maximum Daily Load or TMDL) for nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution in the Bay. Subsequently, the six Bay states and the District of Columbia released initial WIPS to meet those limits by 2025. This collaborative effort between federal and state governments is commonly referred to as the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.

The state Blueprint engages state officials, planning district commissions, and soil conservation districts to cooperatively define the strategies that will be most effective for cleaning up their local waterways. This strategy is crucial, as much of the implementation occurs at the local level. Right now, Virginia is completing its last update to the Blueprint.

The Blueprint is Working

These efforts are already beginning to pay off in the form of less pollution, clearer water, record breaking underwater grasses, more dissolved oxygen, and a burgeoning oyster aquaculture industry in Virginia. But the Bay is still at just a shadow of what it once was. Its recovery is fragile, as shown by the record rainfall and increased polluted runoff of 2018. Our current path isn't enough for Virginia to ensure a resilient Bay. Without accelerated efforts these promising gains could easily be reversed. The final update to Virginia's Clean Water Blueprint will ensure the Commonwealth reaches its clean water goals by the 2025 deadline and put us on a path to fully restoring the Bay. It calls on everyone to do their share, including farmers, cities and suburbs, and wastewater treatment systems. Years of work have created a recipe for success in Virginia, but we must make sure we get over the finish line.

Why the Blueprint is Important

The proposals included in this final update to Virginia's Blueprint have multiple added benefits, including beautifying communities, increasing tourism and recreation, benefits for the seafood industry, cleaner air, mitigating climate change, and flood protection.
•    Once fully implemented, the Blueprint will have $8.3 billion in economic benefits from nature annually for Virginia.
•    For the first time, this plan accounts for pollution increases due to climate change, which is already harming the Bay. We must plan for threats from climate change now before it's too late.
•    This plan pulls together input from local communities, agriculture, conservation organizations, and many other stakeholders.
•    Increased investments to Virginia’s clean water programs will be key to its success.


Two-year Milestones and progress reports are a critical tool to hold the states and the federal EPA publicly accountable. By 2017, practices should have been in place to achieve 60 percent of the 2025 pollution reduction goals. Here's a look at how Virginia performed.            Key

Nitrogen Phosphorus Sediment
Polluted Runoff
& CSO† †


red Did not achieve
yellow Within 5% of achieving
green Achieved


* No contribution from this source sector
Urban & Suburban
† † Combined Sewer Outflow


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