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Chesapeake Executive Council Holds Annual Meeting

Significant Funding Committed to Accelerate Pennsylvania's Nutrient Reductions

Boyce, VA (October 04, 2016)

Today, at the annual meeting of the Chesapeake Executive Council, each member spoke to the unique challenges facing their jurisdictions in regard to the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. Notably, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania committed an additional $28 million dollars today to enhance federal and state investments in Pennsylvania to accelerate nutrient reductions.

This joint strategy will accelerate nutrient reductions from Pennsylvania agriculture, strengthen existing and build new long-lasting partnerships to assist farmers, provide agriculture-led initiatives with staying power and protect investments made by downstream states.

Under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (Bay TMDL), the six watershed jurisdictions and the District of Columbia must ensure that all pollution control measures needed to fully restore the Bay and its tidal rivers are in place by 2025, with actions in place to achieve at least 60 percent of the reductions by 2017. Established in 2010, this comprehensive “pollution diet” sets limits on nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution necessary to meet water quality standards in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal rivers. Nutrient and sediment pollutant loads from Pennsylvania’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed have been reduced, but nitrogen reductions are not on pace to meet Pennsylvania’s 2017 and 2025 goals under the Bay TMDL.

Executive Council members—including Virginia Governor and Executive Council Chair Terry McAuliffe, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Chesapeake Bay Commission Chair Thomas McLain ‘Mac’ Middleton (Maryland Delegate) and representatives from Delaware, Maryland, New York and the District of Columbia —met to review the state of the Chesapeake Bay Program and set guidance and goals for the coming year.

“We are seeing real progress through our ongoing collaboration with local, state, regional and national partners to restore the Chesapeake Bay and the creeks and rivers that feed it” said Executive Council Chair, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. “Our legacy to future generations must include the preservation of this unique resource, which is so crucial to the Commonwealth’s quality of life and our work to build a new Virginia economy.”

The Executive Council also agreed to help further accelerate the pace of Bay restoration by signing a resolution to support local government engagement; commending the actions taken by local governments and local utilities to address their pollution reduction goals within the wastewater sector, and committing to raise awareness about the economic and environmental benefits of investing in watershed protection and restoration efforts at the local level. The Council also elected Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe as Chair for a second term.

The additional investments made by EPA, USDA and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will amplify Pennsylvania’s efforts in achieving their local and Chesapeake Bay water quality goals in 2016 – 2017, while working on necessary longer-term measures to meet their 2025 goals. These additional resources, will accelerate nutrient reductions by:

  • implementing agricultural conservation practices that reduce nutrients on farms in south-central Pennsylvania;
  • providing more technical assistance to help farmers implement agricultural conservation practices that are effective at reducing nutrients; and
  • leveraging innovative private sector partnerships, private capital, and markets to magnify the benefits of these investments.

In June 2014, Executive Council members signed the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, with the vision of fostering an environmentally and economically sustainable watershed with clean water, abundant life, conserved lands and access to the water, a vibrant cultural heritage, and a diversity of engaged citizens and stakeholders. For the first time, the Bay’s headwater states of Delaware, New York and West Virginia participated as signatories and full partners in the Bay Program and our watershed-wide work.

Executive Council Chair, Governor McAuliffe, will meet with the council’s three advisory committees on October 6, 2016 to discuss local government, citizen and scientific recommendations. The Citizens Advisory Committee, the Local Government Advisory Committee and the Science and Technical Advisory Committee annual reports to the top Chesapeake Bay Program leadership and all other materials from the day are available on the Council’s 2016 meeting page.

Quotes

“EPA is proud to see the continued progress toward restoration of the Chesapeake Bay as the partners carry out the work plans in support of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement. We fully endorse the resolution signed by the Executive Council to support local governments and commend them for their actions to date.”

- Administrator Gina McCarthy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

"A cleaner and healthier Bay is one of Maryland's top priorities, environmentally and economically. We will continue to press for innovative and collaborative solutions, upstream and throughout the entire watershed."

- Governor Larry Hogan, State of Maryland

“We have made great strides in controlling pollution coming from our waste treatment plants. The bigger challenge, now, is to control runoff from our farms and urban areas. We must reach across state lines and across political aisles, so that we target our efforts where they are needed most. We must follow the longest standing Chesapeake Bay Commission member Bernie Fowler’s advice to “never, never, never give up.”

- Senator Thomas McLain ‘Mac’ Middleton, Chesapeake Bay Commission Chair

“The signs are showing up across the watershed that we are on the path to a healthier Bay, and that the ramped-up conservation efforts over the last decade are generating results. Voluntary conservation works, and in close collaboration with State governments and local partners, we are accelerating our efforts to target those critical areas where conservation investments in agriculture will pay the biggest dividends.”

- Under Secretary Robert Bonnie, U.S. Department of Agriculture

"Improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay is not possible without strong partnerships," said Brig. Gen. William H. Graham, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, North Atlantic Division commander. "We are all in this together - federal agencies, government officials, state agencies, local municipalities, watermen, oyster farmers and farmers, scientists and members of the public. Our partners and we look forward to continuing to keep an open dialogue with everyone who has a vested interest in issues that impact the largest estuary in our nation."

"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has played a vital role in Chesapeake Bay restoration and protection efforts for decades through the dredging of waterways, ecosystem restoration projects like Poplar Island and Anacostia Watershed Restoration, comprehensive studies and one of the largest oyster restoration projects in the world."

- Brigadier General William Graham, Commander and Division Engineer, North Atlantic Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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