June 28 marked the fifth anniversary of Chesapeake 2000 agreement

This ambitious document—outlining one of the most aggressive and comprehensive ecosystem restoration plans ever developed —is the result of a comprehensive three-year, stakeholder-driven process involving more than 300 scientists, resource managers, policy makers and citizens from all parts of the Bay watershed.

On this anniversary, the EPA and our partners are re-committing ourselves to the challenges that remain in our collaboration to revitalize this national treasure that is the Chesapeake Bay.

Progress has been made. Since 1983, the EPA and its partner jurisdictions, under the auspices of the Chesapeake Bay Program, have achieved significant reductions in nutrient loads to the Bay, primarily as a result of the phosphate detergent ban and the installation of nutrient reduction technology at significant wastewater treatment plants.

Reducing nutrients that enter the Bay is critical as these pollutants trigger harmful algae blooms that starve the Bay waters of vital oxygen. Even though the Bay area’s population grew from 13.5 million to 16.2 million from 1985 to 2003, computer simulations show that nitrogen was reduced by 62 million pounds a year, including 26.5 million pounds from point sources. Since 2000, we have seen:

  • 3,335 miles of riparian buffers planted;
  • 606 miles of fish passage opened;
  • 405 million gallons a day of wastewater flow treated;
  • 153 million shad stocked in the Bay and its tributaries;
  • 527,000 acres of land preserved;
  • 11,000 acres of wetlands restored, enhanced and created; and
  • 1.33 million new acres under nutrient management plans.

This progress will continue.

The EPA and its federal partners are spending more than 200 million dollars annually on efforts related to the Bay cleanup. The EPA, together with Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and our partner jurisdictions, are also developing the improved scientific tools necessary to establish and enforce more effective limits for such point sources as wastewater treatment plants that discharge nutrients into the Bay.

These efforts include the publication of new water quality criteria that more appropriately reflect the needs of the living resources of the Chesapeake Bay.

Developing a unified strategy to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus for each major river basin within the Bay watershed is also critical to the restoration and cleanup effort. In December 2004, the Bay partners agreed to a watershedwide approach that requires more than 350 wastewater treatment plants to implement nutrient removing technology that will result in enforceable reductions in pollution totaling more than 18.5 million pounds each year from this sector alone.

Having developed the Chesapeake 2000 agreement, the EPA and our public and private partners recognize that much work remains to achieve the goals that are part of the nation’s most ambitious, large-scale ecosystem restoration effort ever.

We must stay on this path with the strong actions we are taking to ensure the full restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay.

Benjamin Grumbles
EPA Assistant Administrator for Water.

Cannot see the forest for the trees?

The recent announcement that Constellation Energy is teaming up with the Alliance to plant trees is welcome news. Those trees will reduce runoff pollution into the Bay and sequester carbon, which will dampen the impacts of global warming.

It is rather striking that this same energy company fought hard against legislation that would have reduced its direct impacts on global warming and the health of the Bay.

Constellation owns three power plants in Maryland that are so old that they are exempt from the Clean Air Act and its requirements to use the best available technology to reduce harmful emissions.

The company's team of lobbyists flooded the halls of Annapolis daily to defeat a measure that would close the loophole allowing these plants to continue polluting at 1960s levels.

The tree planting project shows that Constellation understands the severity of the problems of too much nitrogen in the Bay and too much carbon in the atmosphere.

The company should be consistent by supporting legislation to reduce emissions from power plants that exacerbate the dead zone, mercury contamination of fish and rising sea levels.

Brad Heavner
MD Public Interest Research Group

Calling all chemical engineers

The headline, “Solutions sought for excess manure piling up on farms,” (June 2005), I thought, sought solutions similar to those of Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles, whose early appeal in the Civil War for designs to combat the Confederate ironclad, Virginia, ex-Merrimac, brought forth the Monitor.

Therefore, I am writing with my thought on the manure disposal problem.

I am disappointed that the Perdue AgriRecycle plant appears to not be the overall solution. Something more is needed.

I propose the challenge of extracting nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, plus a few minor chemicals from manure is a typical chemical engineering problem and should be addressed by that branch of science. In addition to the recovery desired, there are energy, odor, packaging and transportation angles to be solved—all within the context of chemical engineering.

Knowing only what the newspapers reveal, my concept is a small mobile chemical plant on large trailers that would be hauled to each chicken farm on clean-out day. Processing would take place in situ. The product could be configured to be much the same as synthetic fertilizer suitable for its own general sales or blending.

Any of the chemical engineering colleges in the Delmarva area are capable of this challenge. Further, companies like Dupont, which make agricultural products and has representatives on the University of Delaware Board, should be interested.

Yes, I am a retired chemical engineer.

Alfred A. Gruber
Neward, DE