Annapolis, Md. – Tuesday, the Chesapeake Bay Program announced the partnership has exceeded its pollution reducing targets for phosphorus and sediment. While computer simulations also show a drop in the amount of nitrogen entering the nation’s largest estuary, the partnership fell short of its pollution reducing target for nitrogen by 15 million pounds. According to the partnership’s Watershed Model, pollution controls put in place between 2009 and 2017 in Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia have lowered nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment loads by 11 percent, 21 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
Through the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, Chesapeake Bay Program partners committed to have in place all of the pollution reducing practices that would achieve the clean water standards of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (Bay TMDL) by 2025, with those practices that would achieve 60 percent of the necessary pollution reductions in place by 2017. Practices are currently in place to achieve 40 percent of the nitrogen reductions, 87 percent of the phosphorus reductions and 67 percent of the sediment reductions necessary to attain applicable water quality standards as compared to 2009, the year before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the Bay TMDL.
Water quality modeling experts attribute this drop in estimated pollution loads to technological upgrades of wastewater treatment plants and the increased implementation of agricultural best management practices (BMPs). The implementation of BMPs in both the agricultural and urban sectors will need to accelerate to close the gap in reducing nitrogen loads.