This is the time of year we reflect back on what we have accomplished over the past year and look forward to what we can do to continually improve. For those of us who are planners, we often set measurable goals at the beginning of the year to see the progress we make—and we adjust those goals in our next round of resolutions to continually improve our lives. So too, we at the Chesapeake Bay Program took a step back in 2014 and re-envisioned our direction with the new Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, in which we set out ten goals and 31 outcomes to achieve our vision for the watershed, as well as the principles by which we would conduct ourselves as a partnership.
In 2015, our emphasis was on setting the stage to support the achievement of that vision. Many of you participated in the development of the 25 management strategies that identified the factors likely to affect the outcomes, recognized existing work and gaps, and outlined the partnership’s direction for meeting the outcomes of the Watershed Agreement. Public input and expert advice helped us improve each management strategy, which we adopted and delivered to the Chesapeake Executive Council in July.
These management strategies provide our overall direction for the next ten years—they focus on achieving our vision of clean water, abundant life, conserved lands and engaged communities, with an increased emphasis on expanding and diversifying our partnership and our outreach to citizens, strengthening the knowledge and capacity of our local governments, recognizing the need to adapt and find resiliency in the face of a changing climate, committing to continually improve our approaches as we learn, and increasing our emphasis on transparency and accountability.
Our next step was to develop detailed plans to guide our work toward meeting our goals. These short-term workplans include specific actions we as partners—and as individual agencies and organizations—will take over the next two years to get us jump-started in achieving the outcomes of the Watershed Agreement. Some of you are already participating in developing these workplans, and we will be seeking additional input this winter to make sure we are focusing on the right actions to help us achieve these outcomes.
In addition, we’ve been working on developing our “measuring sticks,” or indicators, so we can track not only whether we are doing what we said we would do, but whether we are getting the results we are hoping to get. We are organizing these measures in a way that will help us make better decisions, learn from our successes and our challenges, and improve our work. By developing a framework to organize these measures, we can more effectively communicate how we are doing.
As we move into 2016, we will continue to share the successes and challenges we face in our work. Early next year, our annual Bay Barometer report will give a quick but comprehensive glimpse at our progress, and our soon-to-be released ChesapeakeProgress website (part of the ChesapeakeStat suite of products) will allow you to dig more deeply into these achievements and the reasons behind the progress. Both products will allow you to be a part of our continual process of reflection and improvement, and your feedback during the public input process for the two-year workplans will help guide our path over the next two years.
Written by Carin Bisland, Associate Director for Partnerships and Accountability at the Chesapeake Bay Program
On June 16, 2014, the Chesapeake Executive Council signed the historic Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, charting the future course for the multi-state and federal partnership known as the Chesapeake Bay Program.
Governor Terry McAuliffe assumed the chairmanship of the Chesapeake Executive Council, the Bay Program’s top leadership body, on January 1st of this year, and on July 23, 2015, he chaired his first meeting. This meeting focused on specific actions that will further our collective efforts to restore the Bay, from increasing the amount of forested stream corridors, excluding livestock from streams, advancing critical land conservation needs and working to increase the funding available for restoration.
Experts, scientists, agency staff and non-profits collaboratively developed the management strategies for meeting the goals and outcomes in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement. These strategies, presented to the Executive Council at the July 23rd meeting, go far beyond water quality improvement, addressing issues from land conservation and fisheries management to environmental literacy and climate change.
The ongoing efforts to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay are at a critical point. The deadline called for in the Chesapeake Bay TMDL for 60 percent of nutrient and sediment reductions by 2017 is fast approaching. The more difficult task of meeting our pollution reduction commitments by 2025 will take continued progress across the entire range of nutrient and sediment sources.
Each of the six states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, along with the District of Columbia, the Chesapeake Bay Commission and the federal government represented by EPA, are responsible for meeting our collective goals. As the “downstream” state in the watershed, we in Virginia depend on our neighbors to the north and west to achieve healthy waters and the benefits that come from a clean Bay. Our neighbors will also benefit from cleaner water and more abundant fisheries and wildlife in their rivers and streams. Whether you are in Cooperstown, New York, or in Hampton, Virginia, we are all in this together.
Clean water, healthy stream corridors and the related habitat and ecological benefits make our counties, cities and towns more livable and more attractive to prospective employers, and they support our traditional industries such as agriculture, forestry, tourism and fishing, which in turn support jobs and serve our goals of a vibrant and sustainable economy.
All Bay Program partners are now fully engaged in the implementation of the management strategies. As partners, we will continue the progress we have made in meeting our water quality goals and seek the continued cooperation of key urban and agriculture sectors. We will work to bring new resources, including private and federal, to meet the costs of implementation and progress. We will be open and public about our science-based decisions and the rationale for making them. We will reach out to all sectors, public and private, to ensure that regulatory obligations are fulfilled and voluntary efforts are supported and valued.
Although we may face significant challenges in such a large and developing watershed, the payoff in terms of environmental health and economic prosperity will be enormous, and it will benefit ours and future generations.
Written by Molly Joseph Ward, Secretary of Natural Resources, Commonwealth of Virginia. Ward is chair of the Chesapeake Bay Program's Principals' Staff Committee.
Today, the Chesapeake Executive Council announced the release of twenty-five management strategies outlining the Chesapeake Bay Program’s plans to meet the goals of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, advancing the restoration, conservation and protection of the Bay, its tributaries and the lands that surround them.
Members of the Executive Council—which represents the seven watershed jurisdictions, a tri-state legislative commission and federal agencies—met to review the state of the Bay Program and finalize the strategies at their annual meeting, held at the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C.
In addition to announcing the strategies, the Executive Council passed two resolutions—first, endorsing the recommendations of the State Riparian Forest Buffer Task Force and committing to collaborative efforts that will increase the miles of forests on agricultural lands, and second, that the Bay Program hold a symposium on financing environmental restoration efforts. Members also agreed to two joint letters, one supporting programs to keep livestock out of streams and another supporting funding in the President’s 2016 budget for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which includes more than $33 million for the Rivers of the Chesapeake collaborative proposal.
“Our partnership to restore the Bay continues to move forward,” said Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Executive Council Chair, in a release. “We recognize the significant challenges we face and look forward to meeting them head on to ensure the restoration of our ecologic and economic treasure, the Chesapeake Bay.”
Each management strategy addresses one or more of the Watershed Agreement’s thirty-one measurable, time-bound outcomes that will help create a healthy watershed. They will reduce nutrient and sediment pollution; ensure our waters are free of the effects of toxic contaminants; sustain blue crabs, oysters and forage fish; restore wetlands, underwater grass beds and other habitats; conserve farmland and forests; foster engaged and diverse citizen stewards through increased public access and education; and increase the climate resiliency of the watershed’s resources, habitats and human communities.
Considerable public input was sought and received which had a substantial impact on the content of the management strategies, representing a collaborative effort between Bay Program partners, academic institutions, local governments, non-governmental organizations, businesses and citizens. Stakeholders throughout the region participated in the development of the strategies and submitted hundreds of comments during the public review period. In the continued work toward accomplishing the goals of the Watershed Agreement, Bay Program partners are currently drafting two-year work plans that summarize the specific commitments, short-term actions and resources required for success.
Prior to this year’s annual meeting, Governor McAuliffe met to discuss recommendations from the local government, citizen and scientific communities with the council’s three advisory committees—the Citizens Advisory Committee, the Local Government Advisory Committee and the Science and Technical Advisory Committee.
The Chesapeake Executive Council signed the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement today, recommitting Chesapeake Bay Program partners to restoring, conserving and protecting the Bay, its tributaries and the lands around them.
Agreement signatories include the governors of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia and Delaware; the mayor of the District of Columbia; the chair of the Chesapeake Bay Commission; and the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on behalf of the Federal Leadership Committee for the Chesapeake Bay. This marks the first time that the Bay’s headwater states of New York, West Virginia and Delaware have pledged to work toward those restoration goals that reach beyond water quality, making them full partners in the Bay Program’s watershed-wide work.
“Today we celebrate the most inclusive, collaborative, goal-oriented Agreement the Chesapeake Bay watershed has ever seen, highlighted by unprecedented participation from the headwater states and the public,” said Chesapeake Executive Council Chair and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley in a media release. “This Agreement not only addresses our continuing water quality and land use challenges, it also confronts critical emerging issues—environmental literacy, toxic contaminants and climate change. Finally, it builds upon the strength of our diverse citizenry, calling to action the nearly 18 million people that call our watershed home. Together, we can and will achieve our united vision of a healthy Bay and a productive watershed, cared for by engaged citizens at every level.”
Image courtesy Benjamin Wilson Imagery/Flickr
Years in the making, the Agreement contains 10 goals and 29 measurable, time-bound outcomes that will help create a healthy watershed. They will lower nutrient and sediment pollution; ensure our waters are free of toxic contaminants; sustain blue crabs, oysters and forage fish; restore wetlands, underwater grass beds and other habitats; conserve farmland and forests; boost public access to and education about the environment; and increase the climate resiliency of the watershed’s resources, habitats and human communities.
Public input had a direct impact on the content of the Agreement—encouraging partners to include goals related to environmental stewardship, toxic contaminants and climate change—and will continue to contribute to how the Agreement is achieved. Indeed, partners plan to work with universities, local governments, watershed groups, businesses and citizens in creating the management strategies that will define how we will accomplish the Agreement’s outcomes and goals.
Image courtesy USACE HQ/Flickr
In addition to signing the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, Executive Council members heard from the Bay Program’s three advisory committees, which represent citizens, local governments and scientific and technical interests from across the watershed. Executive Council members also heard from four high school students representing Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. While each of these students was introduced to conservation in a different way, they have all had valuable experiences on the Bay and spoke about the importance of engaging future generations in environmental restoration, advocacy and leadership.
The Chesapeake Executive Council named Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley its new chair at its annual meeting, held this morning at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C.
The Chesapeake Executive Council was established in 1983, and is responsible for guiding the Chesapeake Bay Program’s policy agenda and setting conservation and restoration goals. O’Malley served two consecutive terms as chair in 2007 and 2008, and accepted this morning’s transfer of leadership from District of Columbia Mayor Vincent C. Gray, who became chair in July 2012.
At a public press conference, O’Malley promised to lead the Bay Program and its partners into a new era of progress and accountability, which he hopes will include the signing of a new Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement. The agreement, now in its draft form, will be the fourth of its kind and will set a series of goals and outcomes that will guide restoration across the watershed.
“I thank my fellow council members for the opportunity to once again take the helm of this partnership, and to help get a new Bay agreement signed, sealed and delivered to the 18 million souls who call the Chesapeake’s watershed home,” O’Malley said in a media release.
A longtime champion of the Bay, O’Malley has during his career developed an innovative restoration tracking tool, undertaken the largest oyster restoration project of its kind and spearheaded Maryland’s efforts to meet its milestones under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load, or “pollution diet.”
Former Chesapeake Executive Council chair Gray was also commended for his environmental initiatives, including his government-led plan to make the District of Columbia the healthiest, greenest and most livable city in the United States.
The Chesapeake Executive Council announced progress toward Chesapeake Bay cleanup milestones, discussed plans for meeting requirements of the Bay “pollution diet,” and encouraged individual Bay stewardship at its annual meeting on July 11 in Richmond, Virginia.
Executive Council members in attendance included U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator and Executive Council Chair Lisa Jackson; Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell; Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley; Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett; District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray; Chesapeake Bay Commission Chair Sen. Michael Brubaker; U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan; and representatives from Delaware, New York and West Virginia.
Chesapeake Bay Program partners are currently working toward short-term pollution reduction goals called milestones. All seven Bay jurisdictions are currently on-track or ahead of schedule in meeting these milestones. The deadline for the current set of two-year milestones is December 31, 2011.
Executive Council members also talked about their watershed implementation plans (WIPs), local restoration plans that show how each jurisdiction will meet pollution reductions required by the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. The jurisdictions are now in the second phase of developing their draft plans, which are due at the end of 2011.
Additionally, the Bay Program’s three advisory committees – Citizens, Local Government, and Scientific and Technical – presented to the Executive Council about Bay restoration activities from their unique areas of expertise.
The 2011 Executive Council meeting was held at the Maymont Foundation, located on the James River in Richmond. Executive Council members spent part of the afternoon touring exhibits on topics such as native plants, Bay-friendly lawn care, and soil health and testing. The location was chosen to highlight the meeting’s “Get Grounded in Tour Watershed” theme, which stresses the importance of connecting people with their local waterways. Through its Nature Center and educational programs, Maymont offers local residents a place to learn about and connect with Virginia’s environment.
"The focus of our discussions today was on empowering every citizen in the Bay watershed to be part of restoring these important waters,” said Jackson. “The actions of federal, state and local governments are just the beginning of revitalizing the Bay. We are also counting on the partnership of millions of people who live in this region to join in protecting the waters that support their health, their environment and their economy."
The Executive Council sets the policy agenda for the Chesapeake Bay Program. Visit our Chesapeake Executive Council page for more information.
Maryland has awarded $6 million in grants from the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund to help local communities and landowners reduce pollution to the Chesapeake Bay.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley announced the recipients at the recent Chesapeake Executive Council meeting in Baltimore, noting that the appropriation is the trust fund’s highest to date.
The Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund was created in 2007 to accelerate Bay restoration by focusing financial resources on the most effective pollution control projects that help achieve the state’s two-year milestones.
“These dollars are targeted in areas and ways that science shows us will have the best results,” said Gov. O’Malley. “This process allows us to select those projects that will deliver the greatest possible benefits to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.”
The recipients announced at the Executive Council meeting include:
The projects will be funded for up to three years.
Trust fund grants were available to local governments and non-government organizations that demonstrated an ability to implement projects necessary to help achieve the two-year milestones for Bay restoration.
The first of the two-year milestones – short-term pollution-reduction goals set in 2009 – are scheduled to be met by December 2011. Under the milestones, the six Bay states and the District of Columbia will put actions into place to reduce a projected 15.8 million pounds of nitrogen and 1.1 million pounds of phosphorus.
The trust fund is generated through motor fuel taxes and car rental taxes in Maryland. When fully funded, it is expected to generate $50 million annually. This year’s budget sets aside a total of $20 million for the trust fund for the new fiscal year beginning in July.
Visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ website for more information about the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund.
June 2010 -- At its annual meeting on June 3, the Chesapeake Executive Council launched ChesapeakeStat, an online tool to increase accountability and improve coordination of Bay Program restoration activities. ChesapeakeStat presents comprehensive information about Bay Program activities, funding and progress toward goals.
The Executive Council establishes the policy agenda for the Chesapeake Bay Program and is represented by leaders from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, West Virginia, the District of Columbia and the Chesapeake Bay Commission.
ChesapeakeStat allows Bay Program leaders, federal and state agencies, local governments, non-governmental organizations, and members of the public to use the same information to track and plan restoration efforts.
ChesapeakeStat will also be used to highlight local restoration activities. Photos can be entered on a map, and the public can submit ideas for how the website can be improved.
“We’ve initiated a new era defined by bold action and unparalleled levels of accountability,” said EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe. “ChesapeakeStat will be instrumental in ensuring nothing short of real, measurable results.”
Maryland’s BayStat provided the inspiration and model for ChesapeakeStat, which will be improved and evolved over time.
“Since 2007, BayStat has proven a powerful tool in Maryland for assessing, coordinating, targeting and accelerating our Bay restoration and conservation programs," said Governor Martin O'Malley. "With Administrator Jackson’s leadership, ChesapeakeStat can provide these same critical benefits."
In addition to launching ChesapeakeStat, Executive Council members discussed restoration work done since the last Executive Council meeting in May 2009 and progress on the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). Bay Program partners are currently developing the Bay TMDL, which will be a comprehensive “pollution diet” that will include rigorous accountability for all levels of government, sources of pollution and stakeholders.
States are currently developing detailed plans to meet TMDL pollution limits, with draft plans due September 1 and final plans due November 1. The final Bay TMDL will be competed by the end of December.
The 2010 Executive Council meeting was held in Baltimore at the Living Classrooms Foundation, where council members spent part of the afternoon with Baltimore students restoring a wetland.
In attendance at the Executive Council meeting were EPA Deputy Administrator Robert Perciasepe, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Chesapeake Bay Commission Chair Thomas McLain Middleton.
January 2010 -- The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been named chair of the Chesapeake Executive Council, assuming responsibility for the Chesapeake Bay Program’s policy-setting committee from outgoing Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine.
During a meeting of the Executive Council in Arlington, Va., EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson promised to continue the Bay Program’s positive momentum and lead the regional partnership into a new era of progress and accountability as Executive Council chair.
“It’s an honor to chair the Executive Council at this moment of unprecedented opportunity,” Jackson said. “Chesapeake Bay communities have spent years calling for cleaner water and a healthier environment. We have a renewed opportunity to show them real progress.”
Administrator Jackson noted that 2009 was a historic year for the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort, with the states’ commitment to two-year milestones for implementing pollution controls and President Obama’s Executive Order on the Chesapeake Bay.
2010, however, could be a turning point for the Chesapeake Bay through the completion of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL and a new restoration strategy required by the Executive Order. The six states and District of Columbia will also receive $11.2 million in federal funding – more than double 2009 levels – to increase permitting, enforcement and other regulatory activities.
“Success in restoring the Chesapeake Bay and local waterways hinges on the collective effort of all stakeholders, and this partnership provides a vehicle for federal and state governments to collaborate and ultimately reach our common goals,” said Jackson, who also serves as chair of the Federal Leadership Committee established by the Executive Order.
Governor Kaine held the position of Executive Council chair since November 2008. His gubernatorial term ends this month.
"Last year, we charted a new, more effective course for improving the health of Bay waters by establishing critical two-year milestones that will serve as the foundation for future success," said Kaine. "I am pleased with what we've been able to accomplish by working together, and I have no doubt that Administrator Jackson will build on our progress in 2010."
As Governor of Virginia, Kaine permanently conserved nearly 400,000 acres of land, worked with Maryland to better protect the blue crab population, strengthened stormwater regulations, and launched climate change planning.
As chair of Executive Council, Kaine led the effort to create two-year milestones, which represented a fundamental shift in goal-setting, and worked with the White House on the Executive Order, the most significant federal action on the Chesapeake Bay in 25 years.
(Learn more about Governor Kaine’s environmental accomplishments.)
“The health of our Chesapeake Bay is critical to the environmental and economic future of the states that surround it and the people who enjoy it, and these regional partnerships have been invaluable to these efforts,” said Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, past chair of the Executive Council. “Adding to these efforts the passion, partnership and authority of EPA Administrator Jackson will guide us through a new era of progress and accountability.”
“The Chesapeake Bay Commission looks forward to continuing the strong partnership we have established with the Bay Program and working closely with Administrator Jackson in finding new and innovative ways to clean our Bay and preserve this national treasure for generations yet to come,” said Chesapeake Bay Commission Chair, Virginia Delegate John A. Cosgrove.
Virginia Governor and outgoing Chesapeake Executive Council Chair Timothy Kaine
Maryland Governor and past Chesapeake Executive Council Chair Martin O'Malley
Chesapeake Bay Commission Chair and Virginia Delegate John Cosgrove
EPA Administrator and incoming Chesapeake Executive Council Chair Lisa Jackson
Media Question and Answer Session (two parts)
The governors of the six Chesapeake Bay states, the mayor of Washington, D.C., and the chair of the Chesapeake Bay Commission have submitted a letter to the U.S. Congress to include in the reauthorized Federal Surface Transportation Act a policy to reduce polluted stormwater runoff from federal highway construction and reconstruction projects.
Nationwide, roads and related infrastructure make up at least two-thirds of all paved, impervious surfaces, according to the letter. These areas promote runoff because they do not allow water to naturally soak into the ground. When it rains, pollutants from tailpipe emissions, fluid leaks, break linings and tire wear are picked up in runoff and carried to the nearest sewer or waterway.
The letter points to a 2002 study in Maryland that showed highways in the state accounted for 22 percent of nitrogen and 32 percent of phosphorus coming from urban areas. The study showed that highways and mobile sources annually contribute 36 million pounds of nitrogen that pollute Maryland’s land, air and water. By comparison, wastewater treatment plants contribute 17 million pounds of nitrogen per year.
Most federally funded highways were constructed without the stormwater runoff controls needed to protect the health of local streams, creeks and rivers. As a result, 66 percent of the waterways listed on the national Clean Water Act 303(d) list of impaired waters are polluted because of highway runoff.
Today, the green infrastructure techniques that relieve these impacts are well-known and, according to the letter, should be included in the reauthorized Federal Surface Transportation Act.
The letter was addressed to Reps. James L. Oberstar (D-MN) and John L. Mica (R-FL), who serve as chair and ranking member, respectively, of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
For more information, read the full letter to Congress.
At its annual meeting on May 12, the Chesapeake Executive Council set new short-term goals to reduce pollution to the Bay and dramatically accelerate the pace of restoration of the Bay and its rivers.
Instead of pursuing a distant deadline, the seven Bay jurisdictions -- Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, New York and the District of Columbia -- will now focus on short, two-year goals called milestones. The milestones announced at the 2009 EC meeting are set to be met by December 31, 2011. (View the 2011 milestones to reduce pollution.)
Many states will significantly increase the pace of cleanup.
By meeting these and future milestones, the Bay jurisdictions will put in place all pollution control measures necessary for a restored Bay no later than 2025.
“We have charted a new course for the Chesapeake Bay’s recovery that will succeed because it includes the short-term goals necessary to make steady progress and is backed by federal and state leaders who share a profound conviction to protect our environment,” said Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine, chairman of the Chesapeake Executive Council.
Bay restoration will be intensified by an Executive Order, issued by President Obama, that declares the Chesapeake a national treasure and increases the federal commitment to restoring the Bay. The Executive Order includes:
Further federal action is coming from the U.S. EPA, which is creating the Chesapeake TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load). The TMDL is essentially a pollution diet for the Bay that will drive the six states and D.C. to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus entering the waterways in their states that flow to the Bay.
Under the Executive Order, the EPA will also be developing strategies to ensure compliance and enforcement with pollution laws throughout the watershed. Additionally, the Clean Air Interstate Rule will reduce nitrogen pollution to the Bay by an estimated 10 million pounds annually beginning in 2010.
The Chesapeake Executive Council establishes the Bay Program's policy agenda. Participating in the meeting were:
We're (slowly) adding video of the 2008 Executive Council meeting to YouTube. Check out what we have up so far:
From the news conference: Mayor Fenty, Governor O'Malley (two parts) and Governor Kaine.
From the public "poster session": presentations on Bay Program partners' progress on their champion roles (given by Peter Marx from the Bay Program office) and the Chesapeake TMDL (two parts, given by Jon Capacasa at EPA Region 3 and Rich Batiuk at the Bay Program office).
You can visit our YouTube channel to check out the rest of the footage as it is added.
The 2008 Chesapeake Exective Council meeting is just two days away, and agencies throughout the Bay Program partnership are busy finalizing details for this annual event. This year, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, and representatives from Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, West Virginia, the USDA and the Chesapeake Bay Commission will be on hand to review the past year's Bay restoration efforts and set a new agenda for 2009. You can read more details about the meeting at the Bay Program's website.
The meeting will be held at Union Station in Washington and is open to the public from 12:30-3 p.m. We're also planning to have a live webcast of the meeting on our website; stay tuned for that link.
The Chesapeake Executive Council adopted at its annual meeting on Nov. 20 a new strategy to speed up the pace of Bay restoration and become more accountable by setting two-year milestones to reduce pollution to the Bay and its rivers.
The Executive Council will establish the new two-year deadlines in spring 2009, when the most current scientific data about pollution levels becomes available through the Bay Program’s annual Health and Restoration Assessment. These milestones will focus the Bay Program partnership on achieving short-term goals, thereby intensifying restoration efforts. The two-year milestones will lead up to an overall deadline for Bay restoration, which will also be set next spring.
The decision to set short-term goals comes after the Executive Council confirmed at its 2007 meeting that the Bay Program partnership would not meet its Chesapeake 2000 commitment to clean up the Bay by 2010.
"Setting goals that are a decade out, for example, do not create pressure to produce results," said Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine, the incoming Executive Council chairman. "We're going to change the way goals are set."
The new two-year deadlines will be created at the 2009 Executive Council meeting, which will be moved to spring to coincide with the release of the Health and Restoration Assessment and allow Executive Council members to more effectively coordinate restoration initiatives with government budget cycles and legislative sessions.
In addition to the decision to set two-year milestones for restoration, the Executive Council also announced at its meeting plans to request support for the Bay from the President-elect, pursue development of next-generation biofuels in the Chesapeake Region and increase partner accountability for restoration of the Bay and its watershed.
The Executive Council, led this year by outgoing chairman Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and incoming chairman Governor Kaine, establishes the Bay Program’s policy agenda. Participating in the meeting, which was held at Union Station in Washington, D.C., were executives from the six Bay states, the District of Columbia, the Chesapeake Bay Commission, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“The work of this partnership and the actions taken today reflect our unwavering commitment to restoring the health and beauty of the Chesapeake Bay for the millions of area residents and visitors who enjoy the Bay or make a living from it,” said Governor O’Malley.
Summary of 2008 Executive Council actions:
To accelerate progress toward cleaning up the Bay, the Executive Council agreed to set restoration milestones every two years. These milestones will focus the partnership on achieving short-term goals to reduce excess nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment. The specific milestones will be calculated in spring 2009, once the most current scientific data becomes available, and will be announced at the next Executive Council meeting, which will also be held in spring 2009.
The Executive Council will also use the milestones and scientific data to establish a new deadline for implementing the restoration measures needed for a healthy Bay.
Bay Program partners have worked with the EPA to shape the Chesapeake TMDL, a federally mandated pollution budget for the watershed. The Chesapeake TMDL will allocate loadings of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment to all jurisdictions in the watershed. The two-year milestones will be used to assist the TMDL process. When complete in December 2010, the Chesapeake TMDL will be the largest in the country.
(Read more about the Chesapeake TMDL.)
The Bay Program is seeking a renewed federal commitment to protecting the Chesapeake Bay, the nation’s largest estuary. On behalf of the six Bay states, the District of Columbia and the Chesapeake Bay Commission, Governor Kaine and Governor O’Malley will deliver a request to the President-elect and 111th Congress to elevate Chesapeake restoration to a top environmental priority and support regional and national legislative measures to accelerate Bay and watershed restoration.
The Executive Council launched a plan to position the Chesapeake region as a national leader in production of next-generation biofuels. This new sector of biofuels does not rely on food crops and can be grown sustainably to yield environmental and economic benefits while also advancing Bay restoration goals.
(Read the Executive Council directive to implement state biofuels action plans and recommendations included in the recent Next-Generation Biofuels report.)
Bay Program partners have made significant progress on the “champion” roles they selected at the 2007 Executive Council meeting. Champion issues include the promotion of low-impact development, support of agricultural conservation practices and improvement of wastewater treatment. Partners will continue to take this type of targeted action on vital issues in 2009.
To increase the accountability of the partners working to clean up the Bay, the Executive Council has requested the Bay Program be evaluated by a national independent science organization. The evaluator role is designed to identify shortcomings and recommend solutions for improving the Bay Program’s effectiveness.
The Executive Council signaled its support for Chesapeake Bay FieldScope, a project led by National Geographic to educate students about human-environment interactions in the watershed and to engage them directly in environmental monitoring. The Executive Council has agreed to explore opportunities to work with National Geographic to introduce the program throughout the watershed.
Political leaders of the Bay region met on Friday, Sept. 22, on Kent Island, Md., for the annual Chesapeake Executive Council meeting to adopt new measures aimed at improving water quality throughout the watershed.
The waters of the Bay served as the backdrop for the signing of important policy directives:
Prior to Friday's formal meeting, a Watershed Restoration Fair was held at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis, Md., to celebrate the organizations throughout the watershed that are helping to make Bay restoration a reality. The fair included exhibits and presentations by over 90 conservation and restoration groups, including:
National Aquarium in Baltimore
Snyder County (Pa.) Conservation District
Upper Susquehanna Coalition
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fish
Four Businesses for the Bay facilities received recognition from Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich for their pollution prevention and nutrient reduction successes: Volvo Powertrain (Md.), Wenger's Feed Mill (Pa.), Trammell Crow Company (D.C.) and Degussa Goldschmidt Chemical Corporation (Va.).
The Forest Conservation Directive obligates the signatories to identify where forests are needed most to protect water quality in their jurisdiction, and to establish individual numeric goals for forest conservation. In addition, the directive provides guidelines for developing a framework with milestones to help implement and track progress toward the numeric goal.
This directive will mark the first time the partners have joined together to support a forestland conservation initiative, formally recognizing the vital and often overlooked role forests play in improving water quality.
Coinciding with the signing of the Forest Conservation Directive is the release of The State of Chesapeake Forests. This in-depth report paints a clear picture of the values of and threats to the watershed's forests, and is the first-ever comprehensive look at how retaining and expanding forests in critical areas of the watershed may be the most cost-effective strategy to ensure long-term nutrient load reductions to the Bay.
The Executive Council partnered with the Lawn Care Product Manufacturing Industry to sign another groundbreaking policy. The Healthy Lawns and Clean Water Initiative will, by 2009, reduce by 50 percent the pounds of phosphorus in lawn care products sold in the watershed. A second initiative addressing nitrogen in fertilizers will be developed for the 2007 Executive Council meeting.
In a complementary action, the non-federal members of the council signed an agreement to support efforts to have funding included in the 2007 Farm Bill that would provide the watershed's 87,000 farms the ability to institute environmentally sound practices. The directive includes a statement recognizing the importance of technical assistance to conservation program implementation, and lists three state commitments regarding the leveraging of federal funds, the provisioning of adequate technical assistance and the coordination of state efforts with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.
This resolution recognizes the need for a unified voice from the farming community to help guide the Partnership in a direction that enhances clean-up efforts in the watershed, while providing increased farm viability.
It urges state secretaries and commissioners to periodically meet and discuss issues related to farming and Bay watershed restoration, and tasks them to report back to the Executive Council with recommendations to enhance the role of agriculture in the Bay Partnership.