The plan approved by EPA includes revisions made to an earlier draft submitted in September based on discussions with the federal environmental agency and stakeholders. These stakeholders included representatives from local governments, the agricultural and development communities and sewage treatment plant operators.

Key provisions of the plan include:

• An additional 2.6 million pounds reduction of nitrogen in the James River basin from wastewater treatment plants.

• High expectations for the adoption of resource management plans on agricultural operations that will feature water quality best management practices, with consequences if goals are not achieved.

• Actions that will lead to nitrogen-reducing septic systems.

• High standards for limiting runoff from new development and for the control of storm water in existing storm drainage systems.

• Use of new and emerging technology to achieve nutrient and sediment reductions.

• The expansion of the existing nutrient credit exchange program, which will be a tool for greater flexibility and cost effectiveness in pollution reduction actions.

The plan also includes specificity regarding the timing, oversight and enforcement of pollution reduction actions.

"As we stated when we submitted this plan, we continue to believe this is the most far-reaching and ambitious plan ever devised to clean up Virginia's rivers and the Chesapeake Bay," said Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech. "And we have devised a plan that while ambitious is also realistic, balanced and cost effective. It is significant that EPA accepted Virginia's plan without imposing any Clean Water Act backstops or consequences. A lot of the credit goes to the leaders and professionals at the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation working under the Governor's direction to get this plan done right."

"I appreciate both Governor McDonnell's leadership during the development of the Watershed Improvement Plan and the EPA's acceptance of it," said Todd P. Haymore, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. "I am also grateful for the assistance that the administration received from our key agricultural stakeholders. Although farmers are the country's original environmentalists and chief stewards of our precious natural resources, Virginia's agricultural community expressed to Governor McDonnell, Secretary Domenech, and this secretariat its continued willingness to enhance Chesapeake Bay water quality now and in the future. We worked with them to develop a plan that is reasonable and equitable."