BALTIMORE, MD (December 3, 2010) – The State of Maryland submitted its Phase I final Watershed Implementation Plan to the Environmental Protection Agency today. This Plan was developed by the Maryland Departments of the Environment, Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Planning, using the State's BayStat process, to comply with the new EPA Chesapeake Bay Total Daily Maximum Load (TMDL) requirements due by the end of this year.
Extensive public comments helped to shape the final Plan, the characteristics of which include economic benefit, balance, innovation, and accounting for growth. The Final Plan provides reasonable assurance to EPA by including additional detail, timelines, and schedules as appropriate; it also describes enforceable and/or binding means to implement controls. During Phase II of the TMDL planning process, in 2011, the State will develop significantly more detailed work plans for the strategies in the Final Phase I Plan.
Maryland's Plan continues and accelerates recent state-of-the art practices and programs. In the cover letter accompanying the document, the agency cabinet secretaries wrote:
"With the realization that a restored Chesapeake Bay is finally within our sights, we move forward today with cautious optimism. We are confident in our process based on the significant public participation we have received, the positive results we have achieved, and our strong resolve to devise cost-effective solutions to implement the Plan."
"Our Plan to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution provides a series of proposed strategies that exceed Maryland's 2017 target -- 70 percent of the total reductions needed to meet Maryland accelerated deadline of 2020. The Plan commits to work hand-in-hand with all Marylanders, including local governments, stakeholder organizations, farmers, and scientists, to develop the most practical, cost-effective means of implementation. In these difficult economic times, it is imperative that we make choices that are mindful both of our citizens and the enormous benefit a restored Chesapeake Bay will bring to Maryland."
The Plan identifiesstrategies to reduce total nitrogen by 21 percent (to 39.086 million lbs/yr), phosphorus by 18 percent (to 2.715 million lbs/yr), and sediment by 12 percent (to 1,217 million lbs/yr) from current loads from the wastewater, urban runoff, septics, agriculture and air pollution sectors. Maryland's accelerated goal is to achieve these reductions by 2020 instead of 2025, five years ahead of the Federal government and the other Bay States. Examples include:
Upgrading additional wastewater treatment plants to use state-of-the-art treatment
Improving urban and suburban stormwater controls
Regulating commercial fertilizer applications
Upgrading or eliminating additional septic systems
Planting additional trees and streamside buffers and constructing wetlands
Developing a growth strategy
Revising the "Phosphorous Index" that determines how much phosphorous can safely be applied to farmland
- Developing alternative uses for manure
Each strategy includes many options available to structure funding, and the Plan outlines very preliminary cost estimates and commits the State to working with the public to develop the most cost-effective means of implementation. Actions to clean up Maryland's waterways will have a substantial economic benefit: upgrading wastewater treatment plants, retrofitting septic or stormwater management systems, installing "living" shorelines, and installing on-farm best management practices are just a few examples of projects in the Plan that would maintain or create jobs.
During the public comment period from September 24 through November 8, Marylanders provided 113 sets of comments, two petitions containing over 1,000 signatures, and 100 different electronic comments submitted by multiple people and organizations. Over 315 people attended four public meetings to discuss the draft Plan. Overall, the comments reflected enormous support for the Chesapeake Bay restoration.
The Environmental Protection Agency, in coordination with the Bay watershed jurisdictions of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, New York, and the District of Columbia (DC), will establish a nutrient and sediment pollution budget for the Bay, consistent with Clean Water Act requirements, to guide and assist Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts. This pollution budget is known as the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), or Bay TMDL. Concurrent with the development of the Bay TMDL, EPA charged the Bay watershed states and DC with developing watershed implementation plans that will provide "reasonable assurance" that the jurisdictions can and will achieve the nutrient and sediment reductions necessary to implement the TMDL within their respective boundaries.
Read the cover letter to the EPA here and the Executive Summary of the draft Plan here. The full Watershed Implementation Plan is posted at mde.maryland.gov