Bay Journal

The Bay Cleanup - Where We’ve Been & Where We’re Headed

  • By Karl Blankenship on March 01, 2005
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A timeline of major milestones in the Bay cleanup effort:

  • In 1987, the original Bay states (Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia) set a 40 percent reduction goal for nitrogen and phosphorus to improve low-oxygen conditions in deep parts of the Bay. The goal was to be met in 2000.
  • In 1988, the goal was redefined to mean a 40 percent reduction from “controllable” sources, which substantially lowered the amount of nutrient reductions needed. The new goal equaled a 20 percent reduction for nitrogen and 31 percent reduction for phosphorus.
  • To meet that Baywide goal, specific nitrogen and phosphorus allocations were given to each major tributary in 1992. Tributary strategies were developed to meet the goals.
  • In 1999, the EPA determined that the Chesapeake was not attaining existing state water quality standards. The agency said it would require a mandatory cleanup plan, known as a Total Maximum Daily Load, for the watershed unless it meets water quality standards before 2011.
  • In 2000, most nitrogen goals for rivers were missed, although some phosphorus goals were met.
  • The Chesapeake 2000 agreement called for cleaning up the Bay by 2010 to avert the need for a regulatory Total Maximum Daily Load.
  • The states of New York, Delaware and West Virginia, which would be affected by a TMDL, have agreed to join nutrient reduction efforts.
  • In Spring 2003, all jurisdictions in the watershed agreed to new water quality criteria aimed at supporting fish, shellfish, grass beds and other important Bay species. They also agree to make sharp nutrient and sediment reductions to achieve the criteria, and states with tidal waters began the process of adopting those criteria into state water quality standards. Meeting those standards became the 2010 cleanup goal.
  • In 2005-06, states will complete the process of adopting the Bay water quality criteria into state water quality standards/regulations.
  • In 2007, officials will review the nutrient and sediment goals to determine whether the cleanup program is on track and whether adjustments are needed.
  • By Dec. 31, 2010, the actions needed to attain state water quality standards are to be implemented.

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About Karl Blankenship

Karl Blankenship is editor of the Bay Journal and Executive Director of Chesapeake Media Service. He has served as editor of the Bay Journal since its inception in 1991. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Read more articles by Karl Blankenship

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