Eleven innovative environmental projects throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed have received a total of $5.8 million in grants to reduce pollution to the local streams, creeks and rivers that flow to the Chesapeake Bay. The grants are funded by the U.S. EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program and administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
The funding for these projects was awarded through the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund and its Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grant Program. This program provides up to $1 million to innovative and cost-effective projects that dramatically reduce or eliminate the flow of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution into local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. The awarded projects offer innovative solutions to polluted runoff from both urban and suburban stormwater and agriculture lands. As a whole, the projects are expected to result in reductions of over 1.5 million pounds of nitrogen, 51,000 pounds of phosphorus, and 20,000 pounds of sediment entering the Bay. Grant awardees provided an additional $10 million in matching funds.
"These 11 projects will have direct benefits to streams, creeks, rivers and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay, showing that the key to restoration is on-the-ground, in-the-water action," said EPA mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. "I applaud the project leaders for their commitment to help restore the Bay using innovative approaches that can be modeled throughout the watershed."
Urban and suburban stormwater is a major source of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay that is still increasing. As development and population continue to increase in the Chesapeake watershed, more impervious surfaces are created, causing degradation to creeks, streams and rivers that flow to the Chesapeake Bay. Local governments can greatly influence stormwater runoff control issues via zoning and development decisions and by encouraging the use of green infrastructure planning and low-impact development. This in turn means that partnerships between governments, local groups and neighborhoods, such as those being created through many of these grants, are keys to creating change.
The Chesapeake Bay also continues to face issues of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution from agricultural lands. The grant funded projects awarded today deal with some of the problems associated with farm runoff by building new partnerships and efforts across agencies and communities, and also utilizing innovative technology to address agricultural pollution across the watershed.
There is a great need for more innovative projects like these that address pollution from agricultural and urban and suburban runoff. Collectively they exemplify creative and effective ways to bridge communities, advance technology, and implement innovative practices such as low-impact development strategies, green infrastructure, and conservation practices — all of which are necessary to restoring local waterways and the Bay.
“These projects demonstrate innovative strategies for how we can continue to live, work and play in one of the most densely populated regions of the country, while at the same time minimizing the impact on our downstream neighbors and the thousands of fish and wildlife species that call the Chesapeake Bay their home,” said Tom Kelsch, Director of Conservation Programs of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.