Today, the Chesapeake Bay Program released its modeled estimate of pollution reduced over the last year. As part of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, Bay jurisdictions committed to implementing the practices and programs by 2025 that will lead to restored water quality in local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay. While the results show progress in reducing nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution, there is much work to be done to meet the 2025 Blueprint deadline. Collectively, the jurisdictions have only achieved 49 percent of their nitrogen reduction goal and 64 percent of their phosphorus reduction goal.
In the three major Bay states, Virginia has reached 75 percent of the 2025 reduction goal for nitrogen, 68 percent of the reduction goal for phosphorus and 100 percent of the reduction goal for sediment. Maryland achieved 58 percent of the 2025 reduction goal for nitrogen, 74 percent of the reduction goal for phosphorus and 100 percent of the reduction goal for sediment. Pennsylvania continues to lag far behind, achieving only 22 percent of the 2025 reduction goal for nitrogen, 48 percent of the reduction goal for phosphorus and 45 percent of the reduction goal for sediment.
CBF is encouraged by the new data which shows that the Blueprint is working but concerned that we are not on track to meet the 2025 deadline. Notably, Pennsylvania is far behind the other states, which is why CBF, other citizens, watermen, and four of the seven Bay jurisdictions have sued EPA to require the Commonwealth to do its fair share.
Following the release, Chesapeake Bay Foundation Director of Science and Agricultural Policy Beth McGee issued this statement:
“While we continue to see reductions in pollution from agriculture, the pace is insufficient to achieve the 2025 goals. In addition, it is troubling that pollution is increasing in other areas like wastewater in Maryland and polluted runoff from developed land. Despite this, there is evidence that the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is working. Over the long term, monitoring data show that polluted runoff in many areas is decreasing. But the road to finishing the job is steep and climate change is a serious threat to progress.
“Now is not the time to backtrack. While we’re encouraged by recent federal funding commitments, farmers and conservationists working to reduce pollution need more help. The states, especially Pennsylvania through proposed legislation like the Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program (ACAP), need to continue increasing investments in clean water too.
“Accountability must also accompany financial assistance. EPA must use its authority under the Clean Water Act to hold the states to their clean water commitments. We will not stand by and watch this once-in-a-generation opportunity be lost. The health of our region’s environment, our public health, and our way of life are at stake.”