States making progress in cutting Chesapeake pollutants

By Sarah Gonzalez

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, July 2, 2014 - The EPA says six states and the District of Columbia are making progress in reducing pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, but must improve to meet standards outlined in a 2009 executive order signed by President Obama.

Together we can feed the Bees" The jurisdictions committed to cutting industrial and agricultural pollutants in the Bay by 2025 are Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C., all of which have waters that drain into the nation's largest estuarine ecosystem.

“All of the jurisdictions continue to make progress in the various sectors,” EPA mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Shawn Garvin said in a recent news release after reviewing two-year progress reports. “Our assessments also point out that their work over the next two years will have to accelerate in some areas. EPA will work with the jurisdictions to fill these gaps, and help them achieve pollution reduction goals on schedule.”

By the end of 2015 nitrogen is projected to be reduced by nearly 25 million pounds compared to 2009, according to commitments made by the jurisdictions. Still, this reduction is nearly 6 million pounds less than is needed to remain on track to meet a 2017 target. The jurisdictions will need to substantially reduce nitrogen in order to get back on track, according to the EPA.

A 2013 progress report shows targets were met for nitrogen and phosphorus but fell short of sediment reduction under the EPA's  Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), which set pollution limits to meet water quality standards. The program gives jurisdictions flexibility to adapt their Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) to meet goals.

The goal is to restore clean water to thousands of streams and the nearly 18 million people who live in the watershed, the EPA says. By 2017, jurisdictions should have practices in place that would achieve 60 percent of necessary nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment reductions compared to 2009. According to the EPA, the Chesapeake Bay Program partnership as a whole achieved its 2013 milestone targets for nitrogen and phosphorus. The partners, however, fell short of their reduction commitments for sediment.

The American Farm Bureau Federation has challenged the EPA plan in federal court, saying the agency exceeded its authority under the Clean Water Act by making policy decisions Congress specifically reserved for state and local governments. In 2013 a court upheld the EPA plan and in January the AFBF appealed the decision.

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