Thursday, January 4, 2018

EPA: Chesapeake Bay Barometer Report Shows Restoration Efforts Are Working

The federal Chesapeake Bay Program issued its annual Bay Barometer: Health And Restoration in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed report Thursday showing a majority of Bay health indicators are showing positive results, an encouraging sign EPA said, restoration efforts are working.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William C. Baker said,  “This is great news! The federal/state partnership we call the Bay Blueprint is working. But is the Bay saved? Not even close!
“That is why we urge Congress to fully fund EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program.
“We also urge EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to cease his ongoing efforts to weaken federal clean air and water laws. Now, more than ever, we need EPA as a federal partner that will champion clean water.”
Thanks to the efforts of local governments, private landowners and watershed residents, nutrient and sediment pollution entering local waterways and the Bay have declined, but agricultural and urban and suburban runoff continue to be a challenge.
The Program also observed these encouraging signs:
-- In 2016, 97,668 acres of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) or underwater grasses were mapped in the Chesapeake Bay. This accounts for 53 percent of the outcome to achieve and sustain 185,000 acres of underwater grasses in the Bay, including 130,000 acres by 2025. ·
-- Dredge surveys estimate that there are 254 million adult female blue crabs in the Bay, exceeding the target of 215 million.
-- Between 2012 and 2016, Bay Program partners opened 1,126 historical fish migration routes for fish passage, exceeding the outcome to restore 1,000 additional stream miles.
-- Computer simulations show that pollution controls put into place in the Chesapeake Bay watershed between 2009 and 2016 lowered nitrogen loads by nine percent, phosphorus loads by 20 percent and sediment loads by nine percent. Pollution-reducing practices are in place to achieve 33 percent of the nitrogen reductions, 81 percent of the phosphorus reductions and 57 percent of the sediment reductions necessary to attain clean water standards
-- Forty percent of the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries met water quality standards between 2014 and 2016. This is the highest amount ever recorded since we began collecting data in 1985.
This year, the Program’s experts assessed data for the first time for three new indicators: Environmental Literacy and Planning, Student Meaningful Watershed Experiences and Citizen Stewardship.
The first-ever Citizen Stewardship Index shows what actions residents are taking to protect clean water and restore environmental health as well as how much of the region has volunteered or spoken out on behalf of the environment.
“The Chesapeake Bay is our greatest natural asset, and our administration has been working tirelessly for three years to restore the Bay and protect our environment," said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Chair of the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council. "Together with our partners on the Chesapeake Executive Council, we have made great strides, and we are committed to continuing to make historic investments and fight for the Bay. It will take all of the Bay jurisdictions and our federal partners working together to build on this incredible progress and secure the Chesapeake for future generations.”
Click Here for a copy of the report.
For more on Chesapeake Bay-related issues in Pennsylvania, visit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA webpage.  Click Here to sign up for Pennsylvania updates (bottom of left column).  Click Here to support their work.
More information on Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts in Pennsylvania is available on DEP’s Chesapeake Bay Plan webpage.
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