If BP Should Pay for Cleaning Up the Gulf… Who Should Pay For Cleaning Up the Chesapeake Bay?

BP acknowledges that the company is responsible for the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  It advertises “We will continue working for as long as it takes.  And our efforts will not come at any cost to taxpayers.”

It’s appropriate that those who create pollution should pay the cost of cleaning it up.  Polluters should design their facilities to meet water quality standards.  Compliance with water pollution requirements, so public waterways remain safe for swimming and fishing, is a normal cost of doing business in the United States now.

That appplies in Louisiana, and in Virginia.   Those who create pollution in the Gulf of Mexico – and the Chesapeake Bay – should pay the cost of cleaning it up.  Taxpayers should not subsidize polluters in either location.

It’s a fair requirement for BP to make this right.   If that makes sense to you… then it also makes sense that polluters in Prince William County should pay the cost to make it right and reduce the pollution we generate that damages our streams, the Potomac River, and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.

It is not an “unfunded mandate” to reduce the pollution that we create. 

Who in Prince William is creating pollution that gets to the Chesapeake Bay?

There are three primary sources:
– the Upper Occoquan Service Authority wastewater treatment plant putting processed wastewater into Bull Run, and the Mooney/Dale City plants discharging treated sewage into Neabsco Creek
– horse farms with manure exposed to rain, which washes nitrogen and phosphorous  into the creeks/rivers that flow into the Bay
– urban/suburban development with impervious surfaces, roofs and parking lots that block rainwater from soaking into the ground, creating unnaturally fast stormwater runoff into the creeks/rivers that flow into the Bay

The sewage treatment plants are meeting the requirements of their National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permits.  The horse farms are implementing Best Management Practices, reducing their contribution of pollution.

The serious problem is stormwater.  Old development, especially in Dale City and along Route 1, included no stormwater management controls. In new developments, even the Best Management Practices are not effectively protecting our creeks.

Worse, as the county’s population grows by one-third over the next 20 years, stormwater runoff will increase dramatically.  As we replace fields/forests with new subdivisions, shopping centers, and other paved surfaces, Prince William will send more pollution downstream – unless we change business as usual and reduce/control stormwater more effectively.

A Federal judge is finally forcing compliance with the Clean Water Act.  The game of multiple governors and presidents since 1983 (plan-for-others-to-do-something-in-10-years-but-do-nothing-that really-matters-now) is over.

If BP was generating stormwater pollution in Prince William, would you consider the cleanup cost to be an unfunded mandate?  Would you give BP a  taxpayer subsidy, in order to meet the Clean Water Act standards for protecting the Chesapeake Bay?

If not… why would you subsidize anyone else who generates stormwater pollution in Prince William?

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1 comment so far

  1. Stormwater control on

    Whoever is found to be the cause of such pollution should have to be the one responsible for the costs associated with cleaning things up. None of this taxpayer/government funding, otherwise the problems will continue.
    -Jack


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