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New Partnerships Allow Expanded Access to Stormwater Funding

Over the past several years, we have developed three new partnerships with neighboring localities and soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) to expand access to the Virginia Conservation Assistance Program (VCAP). VCAP provides financial assistance to non-agricultural landowners who install one of a suite of eligible best management practices (BMPs) to correct a stormwater issue on their property. The most commonly installed BMPs in our service area have been rain gardens, permeable pavement, conservation landscaping, and living shorelines. The cost-share rates for these practices vary as shown in the table below. 

It is important to note that each of these practices includes a 10 year lifespan, which means that the applicant must agree to maintain the practice for at least 10 years. Procedures exist to transfer this maintenance responsibility should the original applicant move or sell the property. 

Traditionally, only localities that are included in an SWCD service area have had access to VCAP funding. This left many localities, including several throughout the Hampton Roads region who are not served by an SWCD, without access to funding that could have a significant impact on their residents’ conservation efforts. To begin to address this issue, we worked closely with staff from the City of Hampton to determine how we could utilize a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to create a partnership to allow us to offer VCAP to Hampton residents. After several years of discussions, which were put on hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, we reached an agreement that would allow us to offer VCAP assistance specifically for living shorelines, which were identified as a priority by Hampton staff. Aside from administering the program, we also support outreach and advertising efforts throughout the city to ensure that landowners know that this opportunity is available. 

Virginia Conservation Assistance Program logo

After establishing the Hampton MOU, we began conversations with two other nearby SWCDs who wanted to offer the program but didn’t have the staff capacity to do so. During these conversations, our Conservation Specialist Emma Rich, who was initially hired to work on the agricultural cost-share program, transferred roles to work with the urban programs. This transfer in roles increased our staff capacity to work on VCAP, which made it feasible for us to develop two more MOUs with the Tidewater SWCD and the Three Rivers SWCD to allow Colonial staff to offer VCAP in their service areas. Combined, these new service areas include Gloucester, Mathews, Middlesex, Essex, King William, and King and Queen Counties. The Tidewater MOU, which includes Gloucester, Mathews, and Middlesex Counties, allows us to offer living shoreline assistance only. The MOU with Three Rivers, which includes Essex, King William, and King and Queen Counties, allows us to offer the full suite of BMPs. Both of these MOUs were enacted in the fall of 2023, and we’re grateful to both Tidewater and Three Rivers SWCDs for their partnership and support of the program. 

While there will undoubtedly be learning curves associated with all of these new partnerships, we’re excited by the opportunities they present to help more landowners increase and expand their conservation efforts. If you know of any landowners in these localities who may be interested in learning more about VCAP, they can learn more on our website,, or they can contact Robyn Woolsey at (757) 778-1216. 



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