The Chesapeake Bay’s dead zone is predicted to be smaller than average this summer. The forecast, issued by researchers from the Chesapeake Bay Program, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, University of Michigan, and U.S. Geological Survey, is largely based on the amount of rainfall from January to May.
Following the release of the prediction, Beth McGee, Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) Director of Science and Agricultural Policy issued this statement.
“The good news is that the size of the dead zone is predicted to be smaller than average, in part reflecting our collective efforts to reduce pollution. The bad news is that, again this year, large portions of the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal rivers will have insufficient oxygen to support a healthy ecosystem. Compounding the bad news is that 2025 is just around the corner and all the Bay jurisdictions must significantly accelerate efforts to reduce pollution to meet their commitments.
“The Bay states are relying on reducing pollution from agriculture as the primary means of meeting those commitments. Many conservation practices have the added benefits of slowing climate change and improving the farmer’s bottom line. But farmers cannot foot the bill alone.
“The U.S. Department of Agriculture must provide more funding for conservation and technical assistance and the Pennsylvania legislature should establish a state agricultural cost share program. At the same time, EPA must hold the states, especially Pennsylvania accountable to meet pollution reduction requirements from all sources. Without those federal efforts, the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint will be yet another in the history of failed Bay restoration efforts.”
The Susquehanna river delivers approximately 40 percent of the nitrogen pollution that causes dead zones, with the vast majority of that coming from Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania’s plan to meet its requirements, however, is sorely deficient. The Commonwealth needs to increase spending by more than $300 million dollars annually to implement a plan that does not even achieve the requirements.
CBF and the Attorneys General for Virginia, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Delaware are suing EPA over its failure to hold Pennsylvania accountable.