One of the questions I am most frequently asked is how much money is being spent to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. And what sorts of activities does it actually go into? While there is broad public support for the restoration effort, there is remarkably little understanding about where the money comes from and where it ends up.
While I am not so sure this makes us different from other government-supported programs, a recent report by the Bay Program Office clears up a lot of the mystery. It was put together by Nita Sylvester, with the help of Lori Mackey, Leslie Wood, and Diana Esher, the new office deputy director. While I am drawing on it to make some general points, the full report is available if you want more details.
At present, the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget for the Bay Program is about $19 million per year. It grew from about $10 million in the late 1980s to more than $20 million in the mid-’90s, and has stayed at that level for the last few years. In addition, Congress has, in recent years, earmarked more money targeted toward specific activities. For example, the recently enacted Fiscal Year 2000 budget includes $750,000 for small watershed grants in the Chesapeake drainage area, and $1 million for nutrient reduction at sewage treatment plants in the Susquehanna Basin.
Other federal agencies provide direct support to the Bay clean-up effort at a level that, in total, just about matches the EPA budget. The major contributors are the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service at nearly $5 million annually; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with more than $4 million; the U.S. Geological Survey at $3.4 million; the Fish and Wildlife Service with $1.5 million; and lesser amounts from the National Park Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of the Navy, and the U.S. Forest Service. In all, agencies other than the EPA are providing special funding at more than $16 million each year, so that the total federal effort is more than $35 million.
Turning now to the states and the District of Columbia, about half of the EPA money is provided to them in the form of multipurpose implementation grants. The states are required to match these funds dollar for dollar, and in fact, have recently overmatched; in 1999, for example, the state match was $10.5 million for about $9.0 million in EPA funds.
In addition, all states have their own funding sources to cover additional agricultural best management practices, as well as to match local costs for removing nutrients from sewage treatment plants. These and other state-funded, Bay-related programs total about $100 million each year, including Delaware, New York and West Virginia.
So all in all, about $135 million in state and federal funds are directed each year toward the restoration of the Chesapeake. Of course, the estimates are difficult to make because there are underlying pollution control activities, including regulatory programs, which apply to the Bay watershed as much as they do to other areas, but are not counted as funds directed at the Bay as a special focus. In theory, we could estimate the nationwide and statewide costs of such generic programs and try to allocate a portion to the Bay. But that would smack of playing with the numbers.
Turning back to the use of EPA funds, the half made available to the states as implementation grants is allocated on a simple formula of 30 percent each to Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and 10 percent to the District of Columbia. One could argue for any number of more sophisticated formulae for allocation, but this seems as justifiable as any other, and is considered fair by all parties. The states have considerable flexibility in how they use these grants.
In Maryland, it supports a wide range of activities, including habitat restoration; non-structural erosion control projects; information, education and certification for agricultural nutrient management plans; integrated pest management; and technical support for tributary teams.
In Pennsylvania, the grant is heavily weighted to provide field support for agricultural best management practices, cost-share funds for the practices themselves, and to monitor streams.
In Virginia, the funds also go heavily toward getting nutrient management specialists in the field, providing money to cost-share BMPs with farmers, and testing soils and animal wastes.
The District of Columbia grant supports advanced storm water management and soil and erosion control programs, as well as urban stream restoration.
The half of EPA funds not provided to the states as implementation grants are subjected to an extensive review process beginning with subcommittees and moving through the Budget Steering Committee, with eventual approval by the Implementation Committee in the form of recommendations to the EPA, which remains responsible for the money, but tries to follow the consensus of the participants. The subcommittees are nine, covering the full range of program activities — nutrients; toxics; land, growth and stewardship; air; living resources; modeling; monitoring; information management; and communication and education. They review, rank and propose activities for funding to start the annual process.
Key themes and a range of priorities are set in advance by the Budget Steering Committee, based on higher level guidance. For fiscal year 2000, the overarching themes are capping watershed nutrient and sediment loads; forging community-based connections; and understanding the Bay’s food web and multispecies interaction.
If you want to understand the results of all this, an analysis of the final allocation fiscal year 1999 EPA funds (available through both the implementation grants and the Budget Steering Committee process) shows that the largest amount, $8,410,000, was spent on nutrient reduction efforts, next came living resource management and habitat restoration at $2,350,000, third was monitoring at $2,150,000, then public outreach with $1,270,000, toxic reduction at $1,010,000, and a number of others at less than $ 1 million. Clearly, the priority attention is being given to nutrient reductions and to reaching and maintaining the caps on our rivers.
Another important trend is that more and more of the Bay Program funds are subject to an expanded process to assure full and open competition in the award of funds. This is done through extensive notification, requests for proposals with clear review criteria, independent review panels wherever possible and full documentation.
If you are interested in gaining access to some of these Program’s funds, you may respond to a general notice of intent in the Federal Register each February; respond to the requests for proposals issued in April through June; participate through various Bay Program subcommittees and workgroups; and monitor our web sites: www.epa.gov/r3chespk and www.chesapeakebay.net. We welcome your active involvement.
For a full copy of the new report on Bay Program budget management, contact Nita Sylvester at 1-800-YOUR BAY, ext. 711.