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Virginia Proposes Additional Staff To Investigate Runoff

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Virginia's farmers may be getting a little bit more help to reduce their runoff.

Right now, there's just one person in charge of all of Virginia's small farms when it comes to investigating complaints of water pollution from runoff. That one person has to determine whether a farm is polluting, and how to fix the problem. There can be 100 complaints a year, and that number is expected to rise as stricter water quality rules are developed.

Gov. Bob McDonnell is proposing to triple the staff to three, something long advocated by secretary of Agriculture Todd Haymore.

"Hopefully these new two positions will go to working with farmers and farms that have water quality impairment issues to make those issues go away so water quality is not impaired and by doing so you keep farms in operation and their commercial viability in tact," he says.

This plan only applies to small farmers -- most large animal feeding operations are regulated directly by EPA permits.

It was one component of a larger cleanup plan that Virginia submitted to the EPA in November. Ann Jennings, the Virginia head of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, says it's a sign that the clean up may be beginning in earnest.

"This proposal would really start the process of putting Virginia's cleanup plan for the Bay to work -- this proposal clearly indicates Virginia is committed to moving forward," Jennings says.

The Virginia General Assembly will have to approve the program's expansion.

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