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List of State Officials - Martin O'Malley, Governor; Anthony Brown, Lt. Governor; Shari T. Wilson, MDE Secretary 

Volume IV, Number 6

 September 2010

eMDE is a quarterly publication of the Maryland Department of the Environment. It covers articles on current environmental issues and events in the state. 

Draft Chesapeake Bay Pollution Diet Nearing Completion

By Thomas Thornton, Science Services Administration

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On July 1, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced revised draft allocations for nitrogen and phosphorus as part of a rigorous “pollution diet” for meeting water quality standards in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries and restoring local rivers and streams throughout the 64,000-square-mile watershed. EPA plans to issue its draft, known as the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), for a 45-day public comment period on September 24 and establish the final Bay TMDL by December 31, 2010.

In developing its Bay TMDL, EPA is proposing watershed-wide limits of 187.4 million pounds of nitrogen and 12.5 million pounds of phosphorus annually. The Maryland nutrient allocation is 39.09 million pounds of nitrogen and 2.72 million pounds of phosphorus. Those allocations are divided among the six Bay watershed states and the District of Columbia and then to the major river basins in each State. The loadings were determined using the best peer-reviewed science and extensive collaboration with the Bay jurisdictions. On August 13, 2010, EPA assigned draft sediment allocations to the Bay jurisdictions. The draft sediment allocations have been expressed as a range of loads to provide the jurisdictions with flexibility in developing their draft Phase I Watershed Implementation Plans. The overall allocation for the Bay watershed is 6,066-6,673 million pounds of sediment per year; the allocation for Maryland is 1,116-1,228 million pounds per year. It is expected that much of the required reductions from current sediment loads will be achieved through the practices and controls put in place for achieving the necessary nutrient reductions.

Maryland and the other jurisdictions will use the allocations as the basis for completing their Phase I Watershed Implementation Plans, detailing how they will achieve the required reductions. EPA expects the jurisdictions to have all practices in place to meet the established limits with 60 percent to be completed by 2017. First drafts of the plans were due to EPA by September 1, with public review expected to follow concurrently with the Bay TMDL comment period. The final Phase I Watershed Implementation Plan is due to EPA by November 29, 2010.

In the draft Phase I Watershed Implementation Plan, Maryland has laid out a set of 75 strategy options that will achieve or exceed those target loads and meet the goals of the Bay TMDL. MDE, along with the departments of Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Planning, recently conducted a series of five “regional exchanges” around the State to share information about the Bay TMDL project and to solicit ideas and suggestions from stakeholders for potential strategies to include in the draft Watershed Implementation Plan to help meet the challenges and achieve the load reduction goals needed to restore water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and Maryland’s tributary rivers and streams.

For more information on the process and to see a schedule of upcoming public meetings on the draft Bay TMDL and Maryland's draft Phase I Plan, with opportunities to have your questions about them answered, visit the MDE website's Bay TMDL web pages​ and EPA's Bay TMDL website.


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Editorial Board
Maryland Department of the Environment
1800 Washington Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21230