EPA Issues Draft Chesapeake Bay “Pollution Diet”

October 2010Newsletters In the Zone

On September 24, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a draft Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), a mandatory “pollution diet” designed to restore the Chesapeake Bay and its vast network of streams, creeks and rivers.

The draft TMDL – which EPA is legally required to produce – sets limits on the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution discharged into the bay and each of its tributaries by different types of pollution sources. It is designed to meet water quality standards that reflect a scientific assessment of the pollution reductions necessary to restore the health of the bay ecosystem.

The draft TMDL calls for 25 percent reductions in nitrogen and phosphorus and at least a 16 percent reduction in sediment to achieve a healthy bay and local rivers. These reductions, which the science indicates are necessary to achieve a healthy watershed, would be achieved by a combination of federal and state actions.

Development of the draft TMDL followed careful EPA review of pollution reduction measures proposed by the states and the District of Columbia earlier this month in their Watershed Implementation Plans.

As a result, the draft TMDL allocations reflect a combination of defined state commitments and supplemental EPA measures that tighten controls on permitted “point sources” of pollution, such as wastewater treatment plants, large animal agriculture operations and municipal stormwater systems.

The release of the draft TMDL begins a 45-day public comment period that will include 18 public meetings in all six watershed states (Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York and West Virginia) and the District of Columbia. A full public meeting schedule, including registration links for online broadcast, is available on the Bay TMDL web site.

The TMDL is designed to ensure all pollution control measures to fully restore the bay and its tidal rivers are in place by 2025, with 60 percent of the actions completed by 2017. The final TMDL will be established December 31.

For more information, please contact M. Joel Bolstein at 215.918.3555 or [email protected].