Bay Restoration Update

The Skinny on TMDL

Are you still paying attention to TMDL? Or have acronyms driven you to distraction?
    We’re here to tell you there’s good news about Total Maximum Daily Loads: The big top-down plan to get every state in the Bay watershed working hard on restoration is on track and now well into Phase II.
    Each Bay jurisdiction has now finished its Phase II Watershed Implementation Plan, the Environmental Protection Agency declared last week. The plans detail what counties, cities and towns promise to do to “restore the health and economic engine of the Bay watershed’s streams and rivers.”
    They “get the states’ boots on the ground, where the work is to be done,” EPA regional administrator Shawn Garvin told reporters on a conference call.
    The jurisdictions are Maryland, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia plus the District of Columbia. The three standards each is working on are agriculture, stormwater and wastewater.
    Getting pollution under control in each area — in other words, getting down to the Total Daily Maximum Load — is done by using Best Management Practices and innovative technologies. The states and their localities do the work, aided and monitored by the EPA. The money comes from our taxes at every level.
    The timeline is quick, in terms of the long slow history of Bay restoration: 60 percent of the “needed pollution controls to fully restore the Bay” in place by 2017. One hundred percent by 2025.”
    Each state and D.C. is traveling its own road to those goals, Garvin said. Maryland ranked high in EPA’s assessment: “Overall, the Draft Phase II Plan meets EPA’s expectations, especially in the breadth and depth of local engagement.”
    But there’s way more to do.
    The Chesapeake Bay Foundation shares EPA’s region-wide “concerns about the lack of specificity on actions that will be taken at the local level,” vice president Kim Coble said.
    Improvements so far, she said, have “come largely through a strong commitment to upgrading wastewater treatment plants and installing conservation practices on farms through existing federal and state cost-share programs.”
    Now’s the time, she said, for “the local level to address long-standing pollution problems from cities, suburbs and some farms that continue to hold back recovery of local waterways and the Bay.”