Wednesday, June 20, 2018

EPA Outlines Expectations For Next Phase Of Chesapeake Bay Restoration

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday sent letters to Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia outlining what the agency expects to see in state and local implementation plans for the third phase of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).
Four pages of the 18 page expectations document outlines specifically what is expected of Pennsylvania and outlines a series of steps EPA could take if Pennsylvania does not live up to these expectations.
“The Phase III Watershed Implementation Plans will provide clear roadmaps for how federal, state, and local partners will work together to achieve their Bay TMDL nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment reduction goals,” said EPA Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio. “EPA worked hand in hand with the seven Bay jurisdictions in developing the expectations for these plans.”
The expectations included in the letters were developed to support the goal of having all the practices and controls in place by 2025 to achieve the nutrient and sediment reductions necessary to meet water quality standards in the Bay and its tidal tributaries.
They also build on the jurisdictions’ earlier Water Implementation Plan (WIP) strategies by:
-- Further optimizing their choices of pollution reduction practices;
-- Incorporating lessons learned from previous efforts, new science and information from the mid-point assessment;
-- Developing comprehensive local engagement strategies; and
-- Building and sustaining the necessary programmatic and funding capacity to achieve the 2025 goals.
These expectations also incorporate recent decisions made by the Chesapeake Bay Partnership Principals Staff Committee, which includes the seven Bay jurisdictions, EPA, and the Chesapeake Bay Commission.  
To date, the states and the District of Columbia have made progress on their phase I and II goals, and that progress is having a measurable impact.
For example, in 2017, scientists recorded the highest number of acres of underwater grasses ever seen in the watershed and the first time in the history of monitoring that total abundance surpassed 100,000 acres.
In addition, over 40 percent of our tidal waters are now meeting water quality standards, which is the highest recorded in the history of the Chesapeake Bay Program.
Click Here for a copy of the EPA expectations statement.
Following release of the letter, Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William C. Baker issued this statement:
“These expectations provide a sound framework for the Bay jurisdictions to develop plans to achieve the 2025 goals. As we have seen in the past, however, the success of the plans will depend on how well they are implemented.
“The EPA letter recognizes what we found in our assessment—the states need to accelerate efforts to reduce polluted runoff from agricultural and urban/suburban areas.
“The letter specifically details where Pennsylvania has fallen short in the past. It outlines actions EPA may take to hold the Commonwealth accountable. Now, Pennsylvania must develop a plan to close the gap and meet its 2025 commitments. If the plan does not, EPA must compel action.”
In December 2010, EPA established the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (Bay TMDL). The Bay TMDL is the largest ever developed by EPA, encompassing a 64,000-square-mile watershed.
The Bay TMDL identifies the necessary pollution reductions from major sources of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment across the Bay jurisdictions necessary to meet water quality standards.
Based on a 2009 baseline, the Bay TMDL calls for watershed-wide reductions of 25 percent for nitrogen, 24 percent for phosphorus, and 20 percent for sediment to meet these standards.
The Bay TMDL is designed to ensure that all pollution control measures needed to fully restore the Bay and its tidal rivers are in place by 2025. The Phase III WIPs will outline the jurisdictions’ pollution reduction strategies for the time period from 2018-2025.
For more information, visit EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program webpage.
Visit DEP’s Pennsylvania’s Chesapeake Bay Plan webpage for more information on the steps being taken to develop Phase 3 of Pennsylvania’s Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implement Plan.
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