EPA details Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency outlined its plan to clean up Chesapeake Bay.

The agency established a “pollution diet” to restore clean water in Chesapeake Bay and the region’s streams, creeks and rivers. The pollution diet is driven primarily by jurisdictions’ plans to put all needed pollution controls in place by 2025. The EPA will hold jurisdictions accountable for results along the way.

The pollution diet, formally known as the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load, identifies the necessary reductions of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment from Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

The pollution diet calls for a 25 percent reduction in nitrogen, a 24 percent reduction in phosphorus and a 20 percent reduction in sediment.

The pollution diet – which sets bay watershed limits of 185.9 million pounds of nitrogen, 12.5 million pounds of phosphorus and 6.45 billion pounds of sediment per year – is designed to ensure that all pollution control measures to fully restore the bay and its tidal rivers are in place by 2025, with at least 60 percent of the actions completed by 2017.

“Today is an historic day for the decades-long effort to restore Chesapeake Bay. In the past two years, we have made huge strides that will yield real results for millions of people who rely on the Bay for their livelihood and way of life. Now we begin the hard work of implementing this pollution diet and building on the last two years,” EPA administrator Lisa Jackson said in a statement after last week’s announcement.

“We’re very pleased with efforts of state officials that helped get us to this point. We will continue to provide strong oversight and transparency to ensure accountability and ensure progress continues,” she added.

Among the significant improvements in jurisdiction plans are:

  • Committing to more stringent nitrogen and phosphorus limits at wastewater treatment plants, including on the James River in Virginia. (Virginia, New York, Delaware)
  • Pursuing state legislation to fund wastewater treatment plant upgrades, urban stormwater management and agricultural programs (Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia)
  • Implementing a progressive stormwater permit to reduce pollution. (District of Columbia)
  • Dramatically increasing enforcement and compliance of state requirements for agriculture (Pennsylvania)
  • Committing state funding to develop and implement state-of-the-art technologies for converting animal manure to energy for farms (Pennsylvania)
  • Considering implementation of mandatory programs for agriculture by 2013 if pollution reductions fall behind schedule (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, New York)

The EPA also has committed to reducing air deposition of nitrogen to the tidal waters of Chesapeake Bay from 17.9 million to 15.7 million pounds a year. The reductions will be achieved through the implementation of federal air regulations during the coming years.

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Comments

6 comments on “EPA details Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort

  1. Dave Wentland, P.E.

    I am equally pleased with this news.  Chesapeake Bay has been the poster child of how we understand and take action on reducing nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment into our receiving waters nationwide.  We have many “Chesapeake Bay” similarities in the Great Lakes, inland lakes and rivers.  This affects the health of the ecosystem and our use, livelihood and enjoyment of these waters.  Even as simple as changing a name to “pollution diet” from “total daily maximum load” (TMDL) hopefully makes the jargon more meaningful to everyday folks who can make the biggest impact.
    This forum is not to promote particular products but there are many new ideas and inventions today that are combining new techologies to enhance natural features to capture, filter and treat unwanted nutrients, sediment, and other pollutants in our ever growing human enviroment.

  2. John Ennis

    Much of the credit for this goes to The Chesapeake Bay Foundation. whose main weapons are diplomacy and  law suits. Lobbyists for the polluters are already hard at work trying to kill as much of the program as possible.

  3. CaptainA

    This all sounds goods but I guarantee people will not be willing to make sacrifices in order clean up the Chesapeake Bay.  80% of the pollution problem is caused by farms and runoff.  Good luck trying to regulate farms.  First, the agricultural lobby is going to fight this tooth and nail. Second, this will require regulation of farm discharges.  This will be perceived by most people as government instrusion.  So here is what will happen:  The government will spend millions, if not billions, on cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay.  The projects will be marketed as ground breaking, innovative ideas.  This marketing will be a lot of smoke and mirrors.  In 10-20 years from now there will be NO IMPROVEMENT to the Chesapeake Bay because there is no will by the citzens/farmers to be regulated as well as the fact there is NO POLTICAL WILL OF THE  POLITICIANS to perform any meaningful clean up of the bay because they will lose votes.
    It is a waste of money and time because the public does not want government instrusion in their lives and the politicians want to be re-elected.

  4. dave

    I agree with Capt A.
    back inthe 70′s we were going to do this, and again in the 90′s and sorry to say that Will Baker and CBF negotiated away any chances by allowing the EPA 10 more years to do what the Feds/States should have done 40 years ago…just when he had the EPA where they need to be – on the hook to do something NOW and a valid lawsuit backing things up..but then if they actually cleaned up the bay, then there would be no need for the CBF and their $1M HQ on the water..
    As long as there is no state monies ( and there are none) this will just be another round of one state, one agency, one eco group chasing the other.
    Now they may make the entire bay an NDZ…just to SHOW everyone what a good job they are doing, but that will be nothing but another tax on the boater

  5. Capt Brett

    You both hit the nail right on the head, Dave and Capt A.  This is all going to be nothing but more regulation by bigger government and more costs to the small businesses struggling to survive in today’s over-governed and over-regulated economy. We’ve reached the point of diminishing returns on all of this government hype.   Most of us can’t afford to run our businesses with all of the EPA, OSHA, State, Fed, and other regulations that are squeezing profits and hampering our ability to hire workers and keep commerce moving.  The EPA needs to sit down and shut up for a while so that the trucking companies, boat builders, shipping companies, and all of us other small businessmen can get back on our feet before imposing more useless and costly regulations that are killing jobs all over out great country.
    I applaud their effort to clean up our bay.  However, they have to weigh the costs with the benefits gained.  Unfortunately,  all of the lawyering and lip service is costing far too much with no noticable improvement.  Just words on paper.   

  6. Ihop

    @ Capt Brett -
    I don’t think you understood what his post was saying. He wasn’t saying that we should put people’s short-sighted wealth above the longterm health of the Chesapeake Bay and its inhabitants and its economy, which is what you were advocating for.
    His point was that the government isn’t willing to intrude enough, and politicians are too concerned with themselves and reelection to do what’s necessary to clean up the bay. The blame isn’t on the EPA, it’s on the public and the polluter lobbies that tie their hands.
    He was right about farms being by far the biggest contributors to the nutrient overload. I’m doing active research right now, in fact, on agricultural run-off into the James river. The nutrient levels that we’ve seen going right through riparian buffer zones (a good idea poorly implemented by farmers) through channels is astronomical. It’s a tough sell, because farmers feel that they have to fertilize heavily to compete, and they design their fields specifically to drain well, but that is pouring vast sums of nutrients into the bay. However, if you want to talk about economics, the farmers want the fertilizers that they buy to stay on their fields, and a number of industries have been crippled by the anoxia in the bay. There is economic incentive, as well as health and social justice reasons, for the EPA not only to not shut up, but to finally get the teeth they need to accomplish the clean-up.

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