Waterfront Master Plan and Groundwater Injection Project Highlighted During Annual Coastal Policy Center Conference

  • Living With the Water
    Living With the Water  Having grown up on the Chesapeake Bay, The Honorable Ralph Northam, Lt. Governor of Virginia, brought a personal perspective to issues faced by working waterfront communities.  Photo by David F. Morrill
  • Living With the Water
    Living With the Water  William & Mary President Taylor Reveley welcomed attendees to the day-long conference.  Photo by David F. Morrill
  • Living With the Water
    Living With the Water  Elizabeth Andrews, director of the Virginia Coastal Policy Center, introduced Dean Davison M. Douglas and Drew Lumpkin. Regional Director, Office of Sen. Mark Warner.  Photo by David F. Morrill
  • Living With the Water
    Living With the Water  VCPC students Chelsea Wilkins J.D. '18, Derek Van De Walle J.D '17, and Noah Trombly J.D. '18 gave a presentation on working waterfront case studies.  Photo by David F. Morrill
  • Living With the Water
    Living With the Water  Tanya Denckla Cobb, Director of the U.Va. Institute for Environmental Negotiation, moderated a Legislators Panel, which includee The Honorable Keith Hodges from the Virginia House of Delegates, The Honorable Lynwood Lewis from the Virginia Senate, and The Honorable Robert Bloxom from the Virginia House of Delegates.  Photo by David F. Morrill
  • Living With the Water
    Living With the Water  The well-attended conference was standing-room only.  Photo by David F. Morrill
  • Living With the Water
    Living With the Water  During lunch, Ted Henifin, General Manager, Hampton Roads Sanitation District, discussed the SWIFT wastewater injection project. Dr. Charles Bott, HRSD Director of Water Technology & Research (at left), followed with a Q&A.  Conference Video Feed
  • Living With the Water
    Living With the Water  Participants in a "Sustainable Water Initiative for Tomorrow Expert Panel" included: Peggy Sanner, Sr. Attorney and Assistant Director, Virginia Office, Chesapeake Bay Foundation; Russ Baxter, Virginia Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources; Michael Markus, General Manager, Orange County, CA Water District; Rich Batiuk, EPA Jeff Mosher, Chief Research & Strategic Planning Officer, Water Environment & Reuse Fndtn. The Honorable David Bulova, Member, Virginia House of Delegates, moderated the session.  Conference Video Feed
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On Dec. 2, William & Mary Law School’s Virginia Coastal Policy Center (VCPC) hosted the unveiling of a master plan for Virginia’s waterfronts and a public forum on a major groundwater injection project during its fourth annual conference at the Williamsburg Lodge.

Elizabeth Andrews, Director of the VCPC, noted that the conference drew together under one theme — “Living With the Water” — experts to discuss a number of the most pressing issues facing Virginia’s coastal areas: changing development pressures, sea level rise, conflicting uses of the water, and depleting groundwater resources.

The conference was live-streamed and can be viewed in its entirety here.

{{youtube:medium:center|YWOwOurC8vQ, Virginia Coastal Policy Conference Video}}

“We are proud to help introduce Virginia’s first Working Waterfront Master Plan to the community, and to host the first public forum on the Hampton Roads Sanitation District’s proposed groundwater injection project—a potential game-changer for water supply planning in the Commonwealth,” Andrews said.

The Hampton Roads Sanitation District’s Sustainable Water Initiative for Tomorrow (SWIFT) project is a cutting-edge proposal that involves injecting highly treated wastewater into the groundwater aquifer to replenish the water source and ease land subsidence and saltwater intrusion into the aquifer.

Students with the VCPC contributed information highlighting the legal, scientific, and policy issues surrounding SWIFT, and an expert panel commented on the issues raised by the project. Moderated by Virginia State Delegate David Bulova, the panel included Rich Batiuk, Associate Director for Science, Analysis and Implementation at the Environmental Protection Agency; Russ Baxter, Virginia Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources; Peggy Sanner, Senior Attorney and Assistant Director for the Virginia office of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation; Jeff Mosher, Chief Research and Strategic Planning Officer of the Water Environment & Reuse Foundation; and Michael Markus, General Manager of the Orange Co., CA Water District, which operates a similar groundwater injection project.

The conference began by providing a showcase for the new Virginia Working Waterfront Master Plan. Bill Pruitt, former chairman of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission introduced the plan, after which a panel composed of representatives of the Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula, Hampton Roads, and Eastern Shore communities shared responses.

Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, who participated in the third VCPC conference in November 2015, was also on hand to discuss significant challenges with Virginia’s coastal environment. Northam, who grew up in Onancock, Virginia, described the importance of the culture surrounding the Chesapeake Bay.

“It’s a tremendous boon to our economy, literally billions of dollars, so we need to continue to work to restore the health of the Bay,” Northam said. “I had that experience growing up, seeing the importance of watermen that made their living on the Bay; and as an adult I’ve seen the importance of commerce and the military.”

In addition to the many local experts, one legislators’ panel focused on “Issues Faced by Communities with Working Waterfronts and Potential Legislative Measures to Address Them.” Moderated by Tanya Denckla Cobb, Director of the University of Virginia Institute for Environmental Negotiation, the panel included Robert Bloxom and Keith Hodges from the Virginia House of Delegates, and Lynwood Lewis from the Virginia Senate.

“This is the fourth time that we’ve held this conference,” said Davison M. Douglas, Dean and Arthur B. Hanson Professor of Law at William & Mary Law School. “What I love about it is that it’s an opportunity for so many people who care about these issues to come together, not just folks who are here in Virginia, but other parts of the country as well. These are issues that are relevant not just to our area, but all across the country.”

The conference was made possible by support from the Virginia Environmental Endowment, Virginia Sea Grant, the Muscarelle Museum of Art, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission.

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