EPA's Chesapeake Plan Requires More Runoff Control

In May, President Obama established a committee of federal agencies to develop a plan for restoring and protecting Chesapeake Bay and they now have proposed strategies to accelerate cleanup.

In response to President Obama's order to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposes to address water quality by developing new rules to significantly reduce runoff pollution from urban, suburban and agricultural sources, according to a draft report released Sept. 10.

EPA also intends to hold the states in the watershed more accountable for controlling pollution, through increased oversight, enforcement activities and new policies. Urban and suburban runoff pollution is the fastest growing source of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay, while agricultural runoff is the largest.

The Federal Leadership Committee, chaired by EPA, and with senior representatives from the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Interior and Transportation, actually released seven http://executiveorder.chesapeakebay.netdraft reports on Thursday.

Collectively, the reports call for increased performance from pollution control, habitat protection and land conservation programs at all levels of government, including an expanded use of regulatory authorities to address pollution control and additional voluntary and market-based solutions – particularly when it comes to habitat protection and land conservation programs. Federal agencies are also proposing new ways to harness the latest innovations in science and technology. The proposed actions are in response to overwhelming scientific evidence that the health of the Chesapeake Bay remains exceptionally poor, despite the concerted restoration efforts of the past 25 years.

“Communities in the Chesapeake Bay watershed expect and deserve rivers and streams that are healthy and thriving,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “We need bold new leadership, collective accountability by all contributors to the bay’s problems, and dramatic changes in policies using all the tools at hand if we are to fulfill President Obama’s goal for clean water throughout the region. These reports bring us a step closer to achieving the vision we all share for the future of the Chesapeake Bay.”

The reports address water quality, public access, landscape conservation, climate change, scientific monitoring and the protection of living resources.

During the next 60 days, the Federal Leadership Committee will evaluate the proposals and consult with bay jurisdictions to refine the recommendations for meeting key challenges to the Chesapeake Bay’s health. On Nov. 9, the committee will release a draft strategy that integrates the seven reports, initiating a 60-day public comment period. A final strategy will be completed by May 12, 2010. However, the agencies will be moving forward in a number of areas before the strategy becomes final.

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