Water pollution in Chesapeake Bay Watershed continues to be reduced

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HARRISBURG, PA, March 31, 2014 -- Longstanding efforts to reduce pollution in Pennsylvania's Chesapeake Bay Watershed continue to yield progress, according to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). On Monday, March 24, the Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) released its annual Chesapeake Bay Watershed Model progress run results for 2013, which represent the estimated amounts of phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment conveyed to the Bay.

These results indicate that Pennsylvania has exceeded the Watershed Model Milestone for phosphorus reductions by approximately 5.1 percent. Although continued reductions have been achieved, the results also indicate that the state narrowly missed 2013 milestones for nitrogen by 1.8 percent and sediment by 4.8 percent. Further, Pennsylvania has continued to see a downward trend for all three pollutants. Since 1985, the watershed model indicates that Pennsylvania has reduced phosphorus loadings by 25 percent, nitrogen by 10 percent and sediment by 15 percent, while experiencing significant growth in the Chesapeake Basin.

"Pennsylvania's hard work in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed has continued to decrease water pollution," said DEP Secretary Chris Abruzzo. "I believe we can achieve even greater results by partnering with stakeholders, helping them develop plans unique to their watershed needs and engaging local property owners to do their part. The bay watershed is a vital resource, not only to Pennsylvania, but to all watershed states, and it is our job to protect it for generations to come."

Pennsylvania has continued to successfully reduce nutrient and sediment loading into the bay watershed. DEP efforts include updating nitrogen and phosphorus limits in permits for wastewater treatment plants, issuing municipal stormwater system permits with nutrient planning requirements, fostering a successful nutrient credit trading program that incentivizes best management practices (BMPs), and conducting 10,842 farm visits in the watershed from July 2011 through December 2013.

Accordingly, the state's 40,000 farmers and 1,200 municipalities in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed have continued to voluntarily install BMPs such as riparian buffers, green infrastructure and cover crops. However, many of these BMPs can be difficult to track and are sometimes not considered when examining Pennsylvania's efforts to reduce pollution in the bay watershed. DEP continues to work to improve data collection for BMPs, particularly in the rural and urban sectors, so that these important voluntary efforts are accounted for when submitting progress data to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Milestones are pollution reduction goals based on EPA-mandated 2017 and 2025 targets for the Chesapeake Bay. Every two years, states in the bay watershed reevaluate to meet their milestones to help ensure continued progress in reducing pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. For more information, or to view the milestones, visit www.dep.state.pa.us.

See also:

"Chesapeake Bay sees reduction in nutrient, sediment runoff with Farm Bill programs"

"Chesapeake Bay water quality to be improved with EPA model program"

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