News | March 17, 2011

SELC Will Help Put the Bay on a ‘Pollution Diet’ Set by EPA

On December 29, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a new Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the Chesapeake Bay. This is a complex calculation of how much pollution the bay can withstand and how much pollution must be reduced from various sources in the estuary’s 64,000-square-mile watershed, including sewage treatment plants, urban and suburban runoff, construction sites, auto and power plant emissions, and farms and livestock operations.

SELC’s water experts helped shape this “pollution diet” as it was being developed over the past two years, encouraging EPA to set limits that will succeed in bringing the bay back to health. SELC is committed to ensuring that Virginia and other states in the Chesapeake watershed live up to agreements to reach the pollution-reduction targets, through strategies known as “watershed implementation plans”. We will also help stave off attempts by special interests to impede the bay restoration process.

The TMDL calls for a 25 percent reduction in nitrogen, a 24 percent reduction in phosphorous, and a 20 percent reduction in sediment reaching the bay. The goal is to achieve full implementation of the restoration plan by 2025 and to have at least 60 percent of the implementation in place by 2017. Even with full implementation of the plan, it will take years more, perhaps even decades, for the bay to recover completely.