In 1983, the Chesapeake Bay Program was formed, comprising members of the federal government, and the jurisdictions of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Beginning in 1987, controlling nutrients became a main focus of their Bay restoration efforts. But by 2000, it became clear that the magnitude of the nutrient reduction effort would also require participation by headwater states that had not been previously involved: Delaware, New York and West Virginia. Each signed an agreement to cooperate in reducing nutrient and sediment pollution to the Bay, making the Chesapeake Bay cleanup a truly watershedwide restoration effort.

The headwater states already show a number of reductions since their estimated 1985 contributions, in part because actions they have taken for other purposes—such as participation by farmers in various conservation programs—have already generated results.

So far, a review of modeling estimates from the Bay program shows that only the District of Columbia and Maryland are more than halfway toward meeting their 2010 goals for nitrogen.

(See associated chart: Nitrogen, Phosphorus & Sediment Loads by Jurisdiction - 375 kb .pdf)

Since the 1985 baseline used for measuring progress:

  • The District of Columbia has achieved 71.2 percent of its nitrogen reductions, largely because of upgrades to its Blue Plains wastewater treatment plant, the largest such facility in the watershed.
  • Maryland has achieved 54.8 percent of its nitrogen reduction goal.
  • Virginia has achieved 41.2 percent of its nitrogen reduction goal.
  • New York has achieved 38.1 percent of its nitrogen reduction goal.
  • Delaware has achieved 33.3 percent of its nitrogen reduction goal.
  • Pennsylvania has achieved 24.3 percent of its nitrogen reduction goal.
  • West Virginia has achieved 25 percent of its nitrogen reduction goal.

Most jurisdictions are doing slightly better with phosphorus, except for West Virginia, where loads are estimated to have increased, and New York. Also, the District of Columbia has a slower rate of phosphorus reductions since 1985 because it made sharp phosphorus reductions in the early 1980s. As a result, the District’s allocation, under the formula used to distribute phosphorus loads, is actually an increase above its 1985 load. Nonetheless, the District has actually achieved a 14 percent reduction since 1985.

Among other jurisdictions:

  • Delaware has achieved 77.8 percent of its phosphorus reduction goal.
  • Maryland has achieved 76.4 percent of its phosphorus reduction goal.
  • Virginia has achieved 50.1 percent or its phosphorus reduction goal.
  • Pennsylvania has achieved 39.4 percent of its phosphorus reduction goal.
  • New York has achieved 21.8 percent of its phosphorus reduction goal.
  • West Virginia has had an increase of 11.2 percent since 1985, according to model estimates.