From the looks of things, regulations from the Department of Environmental Quality are about to come into place. The situation was described by Planning Commission Director Beth McDowell as “a new phase in their ongoing plan to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.” To that end, an interagency Memorandum of Understanding between the DEQ and Westmoreland County was written and adopted.
Essentially, a new practice is being put in place by DEQ called agricultural assessments, which determines how well farmers are implementing their agricultural BMPs (Best Management Practices) and conservation plans with the goal of protecting the watershed from potential pollution. BMPs are often used to control pollution that might inadvertently happen due to farming. According to the EPA, farmland dumps about 27% of the phosphorous and 60% of the nitrogen that comes into the bay, usually via pesticides, erosion, and fertilizers.
Due to confidentiality issues, the county does not have access to the agricultural conservation plans, which led to the county partnering with the Northern Neck Soil and Water Conservation District and writing up the MOU, which details both the county and district’s responsibilities throughout the project, which will run through to 2025. The district’s budget will prevent them from implementing a large amount of extra work, so a fee schedule was cooked up.
For the full article, pick up the latest Westmoreland News 2/20/19