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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