Chesapeake Bay partners take actions to reduce bay pollution
The policies needed to clean up
wastewater treatment plants in the Chesapeake Bay are in place and are
working, state and federal officials said on June 13.
Because these policies are being implemented effectively, additional
regulations being recommended by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) to
reduce pollution in this vital watershed would only add delay to the
progress being made and divert resources from clean-up, according to EPA.
"EPA has determined that existing regulations, coupled with the
collaborative partnership outlined in the Chesapeake 2000 agreement,
will get us results faster than developing new federal rules," said
Benjamin Grumbles, EPA's assistant administrator for Water. "Recent
actions taken by Maryland, Virginia and other Bay partners will help to
ensure that we achieve and maintain our restoration goals for the
Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries."
Grumbles' statement is part of EPA's formal response to a petition filed
by CBF, an environmental advocacy organization. The petition requested
that EPA develop additional federal regulations to achieve nutrient
controls in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
In December 2004, EPA and the Bay state partners agreed to a unified
permitting strategy, requiring hundreds of wastewater treatment plants
to have enforceable limits on nutrient pollution. This strategy will
result in more than an 18.5 million pound reduction in the amount of
nutrient pollution that fouls the Bay annually, according to EPA.
In keeping with those agreements, both Maryland and Virginia are moving
aggressively to issue new water quality standards. Virginia is expected
to submit its standards to EPA for final approval this month. Last week
Maryland announced an additional comment period for the proposal of its
revised standards. Once completed, Maryland's standards would require
each of its major sewage treatment facilities to cut nutrient pollution.
"Maryland is leading the charge with Governor Ehrlich's landmark Bay
Restoration Fund and is making excellent progress through other
legislative, regulatory, and administrative activities related to
wastewater treatment in urban and agricultural areas," said Maryland
Department of the Environment Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick. "The new
water quality standards are vital in our effort to preserve and restore
the Chesapeake Bay and its irreplaceable cultural, economic and
recreational resources. With the implementation of the Chesapeake Bay
permitting strategy, we will ensure that Maryland's portion of the
Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries can achieve and maintain the water
quality standards required by the federal Clean Water Act."
Virginia recently became the second state in the country to enact
legislation adopting a nutrient trading program. The first legislation
of its kind within the Chesapeake Bay the new law sets a watershed limit
on the amount of nutrient pollution that can pour into the Bay.
"We are moving to meet our nutrient reduction commitments with
regulatory, statutory and funding programs that have been praised by the
Chesapeake Bay Foundation, EPA and others," said W. Tayloe Murphy,
Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources. "We see no need to alter the
firm path we are on with actions that may lead to unnecessary delays."
Pennsylvania Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty
added: "Eliminating the impairment of the Chesapeake Bay can be
achieved only with the full participation of Pennsylvania and other
upstream states. Our Commonwealth is a full partner in the National
Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit strategy, and we are
poised to begin implementing the new Maryland water quality standards
immediately upon adoption."
The discharge of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus from
wastewater treatment is one of the key problems affecting the Bay.
Excessive nutrients can cause algae blooms that lead to oxygen depletion
and block sunlight that supports plant and aquatic life. The Agency is
committed to effective and timely methods to mitigate the pollution
To view EPA's letter of response to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation,
visit http://www.epa.gov/water/cbfpetition/. For more information
about how EPA and its partners are restoring the Chesapeake Bay, visit http://chesapeakebay.net.
This article originally appeared in the 06/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.