Despite nutrient reductions in recent years, the Bay is still a long way from attaining its new water quality criteria. This chart (based on computer models) shows that about half of the Bay’s water today does not meet the new criteria.
Part of the lack of progress comes from the way water quality attainment is determined, which is a black-and-white issue. Either an area meets its criteria, or it does not. Models suggest that reduced nutrients have improved water quality in many areas—but not enough to bring them into attainment.
That will change as the new nutrient and sediment reductions are achieved. But even then, nearly 10 percent of the Bay would still fail to attain the new criteria, according to model estimates. That could require further nutrient reductions.
First, though, officials are working to improve computer models and expand monitoring efforts in the Bay and watershed. Bringing modeling and monitoring results closer together will help officials more precisely determine whether, and where, further nutrient reductions are needed.