At their current pace, the three major states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, responsible for 90% of pollution in the bay, will miss their targets for reducing sediment and nutrient runoff by 2025, said the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) on Wednesday. Maryland and Virginia need to step up efforts to address agricultural pollution, and “Pennsylvania remains far off track,” the foundation said.
The six states that make up the watershed, which stretches into West Virginia and New York respectively, agreed to restore water quality in the bay as well as the waterways that flow into it in 2010. The clean water blueprint, also known as the clean water blueprint, set goals to reduce nitrogen runoff by 25%, 24% phosphorus runoff, and 20% sediment runoff by 2025. In its annual report, the CBF stated that less than half the nitrogen reductions had been achieved with four more years to reach the 2025 target.
“Today it is not too late to finish implementing the blueprint, but time is running out,” said Alison Prost, CBF vice president. “Without leadership from the states and EPA holding jurisdictions accountable, the blueprint will be yet another failure.”
Maryland and Virginia are on track to meet their water pollution reduction targets, largely because they have upgraded sewage treatment facilities. Still, the states “need a major acceleration of efforts to address agricultural runoff,” said the CBF. It stated that Virginia’s remaining 70% of reductions would come from agriculture.
Pennsylvania, the perennial laggard in CBF reports, was “far behind where it needs to be” to meet the 2025 goals, said the CBF. It said that more than 25,000 miles of streams and rivers in Pennsylvania need attention, and that more than 90% of the state’s remaining pollution reductions must come from agriculture. While farmers were adopting conservation practices, “a massive influx” of funding and expert advice was needed to get back on track to hit the 2025 targets, said the foundation.
Contrary to the CBF assessment, Patrick McDonnell, head of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, said the state “is at an exciting turning point in improving local water quality in the watershed.” Pennsylvania will meet all of its 2025 targets, he said, assuming that there is adequate funding and that the EPA acknowledges pollution reduction measures already in place.
The DEP stated that Pennsylvania is not eligible for credit for runoff control systems built 10 to 15 years ago, as they have not been inspected in a while. Many of these structural “best management practices” continue to function, it said. Pennsylvania also requested that the EPA credit the full impact of other best management practices, rather than pro-rating them. “Some Pennsylvania BMPs affected by cutoff include agricultural nutrient management, livestock and poultry waste management systems, barnyard runoff control, and stormwater management,” said the DEP.
McDonnell based his prediction of success on recent updates to the state’s Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan. The CBF, three states and the District of Columbia sued the EPA more than a decade ago. They claimed that the original Pennsylvania plan was not adequately funded and would not meet the 2025 goals. “Without holding the Commonwealth accountable, bay restoration plans are certain to fail,” the suit said.
To read the CBF report, “Chesapeake Bay: State of the Blueprint,” click here.
Source: Successful Farming