All of the jurisdictions bordering the Bay’s tidal waters are on track to adopt new water quality standards that will drive the Chesapeake cleanup effort.
Although the Bay Program completed the development of complex new water quality criteria last year aimed at protecting the Bay’s aquatic life, the criteria only serve as guidance. It is the state water quality standards that have enforceable regulatory power.
The standards spell out the amount of dissolved oxygen, water clarity and chlorophyll a (a measure of algae) that specific areas of the Bay (known as designated uses) need to support the types of plants, fish and shellfish that live in those areas.
“All four jurisdictions are on track with their original schedules and their draft regulations are fully consistent with the EPA and the six states have agreed to,” said Rich Batiuk, associate director for science with the EPA Bay Program office.
Here’s the status of the standards development process for the four jurisdictions:
- Delaware has completed its public review of proposed standards (focused on the Nanticoke River and Broad Creek) and is in the process of compiling the final water quality standards package for submission to the EPA for approval. The final standards should be in place this summer.
- The District of Columbia has drafted its revised water quality standards regulations incorporating the criteria, and will soon submit it for public review. The district anticipates submitting its final proposed standards to the EPA for approval this summer.
- Maryland will circulate a “discussion” version of their draft state water quality standards regulation for review and comment by the six other watershed jurisdictions and the EPA in June. The state plans to host a series of informational public meetings on the standards in late spring and early summer to seek informal public input prior to publication of the regulations for formal public review in late summer or early fall. The state anticipates submitting the final water quality standards regulations to the EPA for approval by the end of the year.
- Virginia has hosted a series of ad hoc advisory committee meetings since January to get stakeholder input on issues regarding the proposed Bay criteria. The state has submitted draft standards for review and comment by the six other watershed jurisdictions and the EPA. The standards are expected to go to the State Water Control Board in June for approval for formal public review to start in the early fall.