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Maryland on Track to 2025 Cleanup Goals

We’re meeting our reduction goals, Bay Foundation says

     Of the six Bay states, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia produce roughly 90 percent of the pollution.

    To control Bay pollution, the EPA Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint of 2010 sets limits for nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment. By 2025, all Bay jurisdictions must have in place the practices and policies necessary to meet the Bay’s pollution limits.

     As the blueprint moves into its final phase, no state is completely on track, says the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Pennsylvania is so far off track that the EPA should, the Foundation says, impose consequences for failure. 

     Maryland is on track to meet its nutrient reductions. Our target areas are wastewater, polluted runoff, agriculture and planning and accounting for growth.

     Our progress is due in large part to investments to upgrade sewage treatment plants, which have exceeded goals, and in farm management practices. But pollution from developed lands and septic systems continues to increase, challenging the long-term health of the waterways and our ability to meet our reduction goals. The Maryland Department of the Environment should, the Foundation report says, continue assisting local governments to ensure septic connections do not lead to sprawling growth.

     Polluted runoff is increasing due to new urban and suburban development as well as lagging efforts to reduce pollution in existing neighborhoods. It will be Maryland’s second largest source of nitrogen by 2025.

     The blueprint calls for a Market Bay Restoration Fund to fund stormwater management. On that standard, the state needs to work with local governments to better fund projects to reduce polluted runoff, especially those that retrofit systems in established neighborhoods.

     On agricultural pollution, our largest source of Bay pollution, we’re slightly off track. The Foundation report recommends Maryland Department of the Environment prioritize funding and technical assistance to farms in areas where the biggest pollution reductions can be made for the lowest cost. It also calls for making a priority of longterm solutions such as stream buffers and pastures that filter pollution before it reaches the water.

     On accounting for additional pollution from growth, we’re lagging. A task force created in 2014 has not yet moved forward with a policy. The Blueprint asks taxpayers to fund offsetting the impacts of development.