Chesapeake Bay Watershed Pollution Limits

If fully implemented, the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint—the federal/state effort enacted in late 2010—will ensure programs to reduce nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution sufficiently to get the Bay and its tributaries off the Clean Water Act "Impaired Waters" list are in place by 2025.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the following science-based limits (also called the Total Maximum Daily Load or TMDL) for nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment necessary for the Chesapeake Bay watershed to restore the Bay and its tidal rivers to health.

What It Will Take to Restore the Bay and Its Tidal Rivers to Health

Reduce Bay-wide
nitrogen loads to:

  • 237.61 million lbs/year by 2017 
  • 207.57 million lbs/year by 2025

Reduce Bay-wide
phosphorus loads to

  • 16.37 million lbs/year by 2017
  • 14.46 million lbs/year by 2025

Reduce Bay-wide
sediment loads to:

  • 7,874 million lbs/year by 2017
  • 7,341 million lbs/year by 2025

~ Source: Chesapeake Bay Program, Watershed Model 5.3.2

Pollution Reduction Progress Toward 2025 Goals

Nitrogen Loads
to the Bay
(million lbs/year) 

1985–369.78 
2009282.66   
2012264.14
2014–266.83
2017–237.61  
2025–207.57  

Phosphorus Loads
to the Bay
(million lbs/year) 

198525.62 
200919.23 
201217.97
2014–15.82
2017–16.37
2025–14.46

Sediment Loads
to the Bay
(million lbs/year) 

198510.80 
2009–  8.68 
2012–  8.24 
2014–  8.35
2017–  7.87 
2025–  7.34 

Graph shows nitrogen load reduction progress - Chesapeake Bay Program
Click image to view larger

Source: Chesapeake Bay Program

Graph shows phosphorus load reduction progress - Chesapeake Bay Program
Click image to view larger

Source: Chesapeake Bay Program

Graph shows sediment load reduction progress - Chesapeake Bay Program
Click image to view larger

Source: Chesapeake Bay Program

~ Source: Chesapeake Bay Program, Watershed Model 5.3.2

NEXT: The Bay states' role in the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint 

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