Editors note: All Chesapeake Bay jurisdictions must file their final Watershed Implementation Plans with EPA today. While Maryland and Virginia are largely on track to meet their 2025 pollution reduction goals, Pennsylvania’s plan, however, is sorely deficient. Once the final Pennsylvania plan is posted, CBF will be issuing a press release assessing the plans filed by Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia.
(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—Today Maryland released its final version of the Clean Water Blueprint, technically called the Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan. Maryland is on-track to meet its overall pollution-reduction targets by 2025, due in large part to investments to upgrade sewage treatment plants, which have exceeded goals, and in farm management practices. However, pollution from developed lands and septic systems continues to increase, challenging the long-term health of Maryland’s waterways.
While the Blueprint provides a path to the 2025 goals, it is short on strategies to maintain them. The plan relies on annual practices that are less cost effective and don’t provide as many benefits for our climate and our communities as permanent natural filters.
In agriculture, the plan relies heavily on annual practices such as cover crops and manure transport that require significant investment year after year. The state, instead, needs to balance this investment with an increasing emphasis on long-term natural filters such as forested stream buffers and grazing livestock on permanent pasture.
Maryland is lowering expectations to reduce runoff from urban and suburban development in the final phase of its plan. The plan expects Maryland's 10 most developed counties and Baltimore City to treat runoff from impervious surface at about half the pace required over the previous eight years. The effort is not making enough progress to reduce stormwater runoff—pollution from developed areas is expected to continue to grow. Not only does this put local water quality at risk, but by 2025, stormwater is predicted to contribute more pollution to the Bay than sewage treatment plants in Maryland.
CBF Maryland Executive Director Alison Prost issued the following statement:
“Maryland must lead by example. In this case, that means helping farmers transition crop land to permanent pasture and working with them to plant streamside forest buffers to reduce agriculture pollution. In our cities and towns, we can no longer delay needed improvements to reduce polluted runoff generated from buildings, driveways, and roads. These long-term enhancements to our farms and neighborhoods will reduce pollution and begin to insulate Maryland against climate change. The focus during this final push to reach the 2025 cleanup goals must rightly include Pennsylvania. The Commonwealth’s lackluster pollution reduction efforts exacerbate the summer dead zone, funnel trash into Maryland, and harm the Bay’s marine life.”