As part of West Virginia’s Clean Water Blueprint, the state developed a plan to implement practices needed to achieve 60 percent of the needed Bay pollution reductions by 2017, and to complete the job by 2025. In addition, it developed two-year milestones that specify the practices the state intends to implement every two years, progressing toward those long-term goals. The data used for the assessment is from the halfway point for the 2014-2015 milestone period.
“It's encouraging to see West Virginia's farmers doing their part in better management of animal waste to clean up our waters,” said Angie Rosser, Executive Director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition. “We need to keep moving in this direction now by putting stronger plans in place for reducing their fertilizer runoff into our streams. Farmers, and all of us, benefit from responsible and accountable practices to keep our local water sources healthy and safe to use.”
The assessment looked at the progress West Virginia is making on four key milestone practices—animal waste management systems, nutrient management, poultry phytase, and forest buffers. These Best Management Practices were chosen for evaluation by watershed groups in West Virginia’s Bay counties, along with WV Rivers.
There are more than 50,000 livestock in West Virginia’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Animal waste management systems provide for proper storage and handling of manure. To date, West Virginia is on target to reach its 2015 milestone target for this key practice, and is on track for its 2017 goal.
Nutrient management plans guide manure application so that nitrogen and phosphorus are provided at the correct rate, time, and place for crop growth, as opposed to running off the land and polluting local waterways. West Virginia is off track in meeting both its 2015 milestone and 2017 goal. “This is an area we need to focus on,” said Rosser. “Agriculture agencies in West Virginia need more funding to work with farmers to inform them about these programs, and to implement them.”
Phytase is an enzyme added to poultry feed that improves the birds’ ability to take up phosphorus so that less phosphorus needs to be added to the feed resulting in less phosphorous in the manure. Although West Virginia is close to being on-track with this practice for 2015, recent trends are positive that the state will meet its goals for 2017.
Forest buffers prevent pollution from entering local waterways, increase a stream’s capacity to cleanse itself, and stabilize stream banks. Despite earlier successes, West Virginia is not on track to meet its 2015 and 2017 milestone goals. More resources are needed to support this practice.
Other states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed—Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New York, and the District of Columbia—also issued similar reports. All assessments were conducted by CBF and CCWC state partners. New York was not assessed because CCWC has no affiliated advocacy groups in New York.
More detailed analyses are available at cbf.org/milestones.