Leaders Pledge to Step Up Chesapeake Cleanup

While acknowledging that restoration goals are unlikely to be met by 2010, leaders of Chesapeake Bay-area governments pledged to accelerate efforts to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution throughout the bay watershed.

"We are at a key crossroad in our bay restoration efforts," said Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who serves as the chair of the Chesapeake Executive Council. "With the alignment of political leadership, public will and good science, we have the moral imperative to turn back the decline in the bay's health that has been decades in the making."

The council, which establishes the policy direction for the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay, includes the governors of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, the EPA administrator, the mayor of the District of Columbia and the head of the Chesapeake Bay Commission. Also in attendance at a Dec. 5 meeting were representatives from Delaware and West Virginia, as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Chesapeake Bay Program partnership has currently achieved 44 percent of nitrogen, 60 percent of phosphorous and 57 percent of sediment reduction goals, as well as 44 percent of habitat restoration and 69 percent of watershed protection goals. While the progress has been significant, particularly given the 170,000 new watershed residents each year, the partnership agreed that the pace of restoration has not been enough to meet the 2010 water quality goals.

The principals attending the meeting each agreed to "champion" an issue or issues that are vital to restore our streams, rivers and the bay, intending that the outcomes of the various projects or programs be models that are transferable to towns, municipalities, counties and other cities and states. Looking to the areas of most concern in individual jurisdictions, each leader found that there were specific issues they could focus on, using the expertise available to them. As "champions" make progress, they will report back to the partnership and the partners will be encouraged to consider these individual models and modify them for their respective uses.

"We all share a responsibility to protect our Bay, which can only be accomplished by improving accountability and strengthening the ongoing efforts within each of our jurisdictions," O'Malley said. "We have pledged to take a leadership role on behalf of the partnership to measure and increase our progress not only to improve water quality, but to restore our aquatic resources -- such as bay grasses, blue crabs, American shad and striped bass -- to historic populations and health."

For more information, contact the Chesapeake Bay Program.

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