Maryland’s Phase III WIP: What Happens Next?
All of the Chesapeake Bay watershed jurisdictions (Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia) submitted their final Phase III Watershed Implementation Plans (WIP) to EPA on August 23, 2019. Phase III WIPs provide information and strategies that local partners proposed to meet Bay restoration targets between 2018 and 2025. EPA will provide evaluations of the final Phase III WIPs for each jurisdiction to consider when developing their 2020-2021 milestones.
In January 2012, the Bay watershed jurisdictions submitted their first sets of milestones as part of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load accountability framework
(leaving MDE), for the 2012-2013 timeframe. The jurisdictions have developed milestones every two years since then.
The next round of state milestones will be developed for 2020-2021. Milestones identify the anticipated specific steps to be taken to implement Maryland’s WIP. Examples include funding, authorities, enhancing existing programs, establishing new programs, studies, etc.
While milestones look forward over two years, progress evaluations look back over the past year to measure the success of implementation efforts.
Annual Progress Evaluation
The Bay watershed jurisdictions and EPA evaluate progress
every year, using a suite of modeling tools
(leaving MDE - PDF). These tools predict how the Chesapeake Bay will respond to actions and practices that have been implemented to reduce nutrients and sediment loading to the Bay through a number of factors including State and local planning efforts, as well as population and land-use change. Bay jurisdictions submit implementation records to EPA each year. Results of annual progress evaluations inform subsequent programmatic two-year milestones.
Progress evaluations are best estimates based on state-of-the-art, extensively peer-reviewed science. In the very long term, trends in water quality can be measured through monitoring.
Water Quality Monitoring
Measurable improvements in water quality take time. There are often lags between the implementation of management practices and responses in the Bay. Increased rainfall and severe storms associated with climate change introduce more variability in conditions. Ultimately, for the Bay and its tributaries to function as a healthy ecosystem, monitoring
(leaving MDE) must indicate that water quality standards for all aquatic habitats are met.
Maryland WIP Implementation Continues
Close collaboration with local partners will ensure successful Chesapeake Bay restoration. Maryland continues to focus on strengthening partnerships at all levels and engaging local practitioners. As part of this process, State agencies are working to increase the implementation of restoration practices, providing support for local restoration initiatives, and finding new incentives to help promote a restoration economy.
While Maryland is currently on track to meet its 2025 Bay restoration goals, the latest science suggests that to achieve and sustain restoration into the future, climate change and Conowingo Dam infill need to be considered.
- Climate Change: Maryland has committed to considering updated information and accounting for any additional nutrient and sediment loads in response to climate change. A Phase III WIP addendum, the 2022-2023 two-year milestones, or both will reflect this new information.
- Conowingo WIP: Maryland is working collaboratively with the Chesapeake Bay Program Partnership to reduce the increased pollutant loads flowing over Conowingo Dam. A separate Conowingo WIP (CWIP) (leaving MDE) was developed to account for the additional Conowingo loads. The Partnership’s CWIP was open to public review and comment.
Maryland plans to hold annual meetings and webinars to update stakeholders on milestones, progress, and related topics. More frequent updates will be available on MDE’s WIP web pages
. At the bottom of each web page, you will find contact information for MDE staff who welcome your questions and suggestions at any time.