Monday, August 31, 2015

Chesapeake Bay Commission Gets Milestone Update Sept. 10, What Will PA Do?

The Chesapeake Bay Commission will hear a midpoint assessment of the progress states are making toward meeting their 2017 Chesapeake Bay cleanup milestones at its next meeting on September 10-11 in Alexandria, Virginia.
In addition to the progress report, there will be several presentations on stormwater management and other Bay Program issues.
Pennsylvania has 481 days (as of September 7) to put the best management practices on the ground needed to eliminate 10 million pounds of nitrogen and 212 million pounds of sediment from going into our rivers and streams to meet the 2017 Chesapeake Bay cleanup milestones.
Pennsylvania is even further behind because we did not meet the 2013 pollution reduction milestones.
In June 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported Pennsylvania exceeded its 2013 Chesapeake Bay cleanup milestone for phosphorus by 242,000 pounds, but fell short in meeting the nitrogen goal by 2 million pounds and sediment reduction milestone by nearly 116 million pounds.
If Pennsylvania doesn’t meet the milestones, it leaves EPA free to come up with its own plan on how the state can meet them, and as Rep. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming) said during DEP’s budget hearing, “It isn’t pretty.”
At his budget hearing in March, DEP Secretary John Quigley acknowledged, to his credit, Pennsylvania is not meeting its commitments to clean up Pennsylvania watersheds contributing water to the Bay and promised a plan to reboot the program to get it back on track.
Quigley and Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding reiterated their commitment to reboot Pennsylvania’s plans to meet Bay cleanup milestones at the July Chesapeake Bay Executive Council meeting.
Even by any rough measure, Pennsylvania will need to ramp up its watershed restoration programs significantly to meet its commitments.  
Using the Commonwealth’s reported average rate of Chesapeake Bay Program implementation from 2009 to 2013, here’s an estimate of how much each of key measures would have to increase to meet the 2017 milestones:
— Forested stream buffers on farms: from 6 acres per day to over 38 acres;
— Farm conservation plan development: from 46 acres a day to over 589 acres;
— Rotational grazing practices: from 8.5 acres to roughly 135 acres a day;
— Urban stormwater infiltration practices: from 7 acres to 368 acres per day;
— Stormwater treatment wet ponds & wetlands: from 0.4 acres to 28 acres a day; and
— Dirt & gravel road repair: from 334 feet per day to over 1,411 feet per day.
Since most of the 2015 work season is now gone, this means these best management practices must get done in 2016, because only those measures put on the ground by December 31, 2016 will count toward meeting the 2017 milestones.
The question remains, what is Pennsylvania’s plan?
The Commission meeting will be held in the Courtyard Alexandria Pentagon South, 4641 Kenmore Avenue in Alexandria.
Related Story:
Analysis: Will PA Show Leadership On Water Cleanup Issues, Or Surrender To Feds?

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