Pollution diet for Chesapeake Bay: EPA announces next step

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PHILADELPHIA, PA, July 1, 2010 -- EPA today announced draft allocations for nitrogen and phosphorus as part of a rigorous pollution diet for meeting water quality standards in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries, and restoring local rivers and streams throughout the 64,000-square-mile watershed.

"Restoring the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries will not be easy," said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. "While we all recognize that every jurisdiction within the watershed will have to make very difficult choices to reduce pollution, we also recognize that we must collectively accelerate our efforts if we are going to restore this national treasure as part of our legacy for future generations."

EPA proposed watershed-wide limits of 187.4 million pounds of nitrogen and 12.5 million pounds of phosphorus annually, and divided those allocations among the six watershed states and the District of Columbia, as well as the major river basins (see link below). These loadings were determined using the best peer-reviewed science and through extensive collaboration with the states and the District of Columbia. EPA will assign draft allocations for sediment August 15.

In addition, EPA is committing to reducing air deposition of nitrogen to the tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay to 15.7 million pounds per year. The reductions will be achieved through implementation of federal air regulations over the coming years.

The jurisdictions are expected to use the allocations as the basis for completing Watershed Implementation Plans, detailing how they will further divide these allocations among pollution sources, and achieve the required reductions. The first drafts of those plans are due to EPA by September 1. The jurisdictions are expected to have all practices in place to meet the established limits by 2025, with 60 percent of the effort completed by 2017.

EPA plans to issue a draft Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) or pollution diet for a 45-day public comment period on September 24. The final Phase 1 Watershed Implementation Plans are due November 29, and EPA will establish the Bay TMDL by December 31.

In 2017, the jurisdictions are expected to submit updated implementation plans to ensure that all the control measures needed to meet Bay water quality standards will be in place by 2025.

In 2009, EPA announced that it expects the six watershed states and D.C. to provide Watershed Implementation Plans, including detailed strategies for reducing pollutant loads to meet water quality standards in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries. EPA also expects detailed schedules for implementing pollution controls and achieving the required pollution reductions. EPA and the jurisdictions will measure progress utilizing two-year milestones. EPA may apply federal backstop measures for inadequate plans or failing to meet the milestones.

For more information about the Chesapeake Bay TMDL visit: http://www.epa.gov/chesapeakebaytmdl/

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