Hanover Co. prepping for expensive Chesapeake Bay cleanup

By Ben Garbarek - bio | email

HANOVER COUNTY, VA (WWBT) - Cleaning the Chesapeake Bay is a multi-million dollar project that will affect a lot of communities in central Virginia. Most agree it's the right thing to do, but paying for the cleanup could be an issue.

It's the eight hundred pound gorilla in the room for a lot of local governments. The EPA has outlined a number of regulations to clean Chesapeake Bay, but funding hasn't been announced.

People in Hanover County are afraid the little guy could get stuck with the tab.

People have been talking about cleaning the rivers and streams from the Chesapeake Bay for years and now the EPA is getting more serious about it.

The problem is, the enormous undertaking comes with a hefty price tag, upwards of $300 million over the next decade or so for Hanover County alone.

Mike Flagg works for the Hanover County Public Works. He says right now no one is sure who will pay for the cleanup.

"That's an unbudgeted expense that, quite frankly, I don't think local governments are prepared to embark upon," he said. "Certainly the state hasn't shown there's any broad state and federal funding available."

Cutting down animal waste from farms and waste from local businesses will be one of the big ticket items that could cost millions of dollars to put into place.

One of the groups that could get hit the hardest by the regulations to clean the Chesapeake Bay could be farmers.

Like Chuck McGhee. Chuck is not only a farmer but also sits on the Hanover County Board of Supervisors. He believes taxpayers are going to pick up the bill even if local government doesn't have to pay.

"Somebody is going to have to pay for the cleanup," he said. "Everybody wants to say punish businesses, if you're a consumer, you'll end up paying in the end because businesses will end up raising prices."

Chuck and other members of the Board of Supervisors say now is a difficult time to add new costs when the county budget has been cut two years in a row.

State and federal money could be available to pay for some of these costs but local leaders aren't sure if it'll cover all the costs.

A final plan for who will pay to clean up the Chesapeake Bay is expected to be announced at the end of the month.

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