The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed draft nitrogen and phosphorus limits, called allocations, as part of a “pollution diet” the agency is developing to restore the Chesapeake Bay and its local streams, creeks and rivers.
The watershed-wide draft limits of 187.4 million pounds of nitrogen and 12.5 million pounds of phosphorus are divided among the six watershed states and the District of Columbia, as well as the major river basins. The draft limits were determined using the best peer-reviewed science and through extensive collaboration between the EPA and the seven Bay jurisdictions.
Bay jurisdictions are expected to use the draft allocations as the basis for completing their Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs), which detail how they will further divide the limits among different sources of pollution and achieve the required reductions. Jurisdictions must provide the first drafts of their WIPs to the EPA by September 1, and final Phase 1 WIPs are due November 29.
“While we all recognize that every jurisdiction within the watershed will have to make very difficult choices to reduce pollution, we also recognize that we must collectively accelerate our efforts if we are going to restore this national treasure as part of our legacy for future generations,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin.
The EPA expects the Bay jurisdictions to have all practices in place to meet their established pollution limits by 2025, with 60 percent of the effort completed by 2017. Progress will be measured using two-year milestones, or short-term goals. The EPA may apply consequences for inadequate plans or failing to meet the milestones.
The EPA will issue a draft Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) – the “pollution diet” – on September 24, with a 45-day public comment period immediately following. The final Bay TMDL will be established by December 31.
In addition to these draft allocations, the EPA is committing to reduce the amount of airborne nitrogen that falls on the Bay’s tidal waters to 15.7 million pounds per year. This will be achieved through federal air regulations that will be implemented over the coming years.
The EPA will assign draft allocations for sediment on August 15.
For more information about the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, visit www.epa.gov/chesapeakebaytmdl.