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CBF-PA: No Surprise, Pennsylvania Significantly Off Track In Meeting Chesapeake Bay Milestones
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The Chesapeake Bay Foundation Wednesday released its assessment of the progress made implementing Chesapeake Bay Watershed milestone commitments in 2016 and found Maryland and Virginia largely on track to meet commitments for reducing pollution and Pennsylvania falling significantly short in reducing nitrogen pollution.

“While there is significant room for improvement in all the states, it is important to note that reduced pollution is benefitting the Bay. Over time, the dead zone is getting smaller, Bay grasses are at record levels, and oysters are rebounding,” said CBF President William C. Baker. “The success all three states have had in reducing pollution from sewage treatment plants is important, but it also masks shortfalls in each of the states’ efforts to reduce pollution from agriculture and urban/suburban runoff. Continued federal and state investments will be key to success on the state level, and we know the payoff will be significant.”

Under the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, the states have committed to implementing 60 percent of the practices necessary to restore the Bay by 2017, and 100 percent by 2025. Over the next year, the states and EPA will assess progress and develop new plans to achieve the 2025 goal.

The two-year milestones provide transparency and accountability for restoration efforts. This assessment is for the first year of the 2016-17 milestone period.

CBF’s assessment looked at the practices the states put in place in 2016, as well as selected programs each state has designed to achieve the long-term goals.

“Pennsylvania’s pollution reduction strategy has shown some progress and the Commonwealth is in the process of developing a new watershed implementation plan to carry it toward the 2025 goals,” said CBF Pennsylvania Executive Director Harry Campbell. “But the Commonwealth is considering yet another budget that falls well short of providing the investments necessary for success. Pennsylvania will only be successful with sustained investments in the right places and on the right practices.

Pennsylvania Assessment

Pennsylvania is significantly off track in reducing nitrogen and phosphorus pollution from agriculture as well as urban/suburban runoff. Progress in reducing pollution from sewage treatment plants is on track.

Overall progress to reduce nitrogen pollution is significantly off track, but efforts to reduce phosphorus and sediment pollution are only slightly off track.

Pennsylvania’s re-boot committed the Commonwealth to develop and implement an agricultural compliance and enforcement strategy. As part of that strategy inspections were to be conducted on 10 percent of its farms annually.

With funding from the Chesapeake Bay Program and other sources, over 1,100 farms were visited between October 2016 and March 2017, an inspection rate below what is needed to visit 10 percent of farms.

However, the pace of inspections has increased now that the process is more established. 

Roughly 70 percent of the farms had the required plans.  These inspections, however, only assess whether the required plans exist, not whether they are implemented – a major shortfall of state efforts to date.

Pennsylvania also committed to counting and reporting on agricultural practices that are not government funded. A recent Penn State study reported many practices that the Commonwealth had not counted.

Pennsylvania’s efforts to reduce pollution from urban/suburban runoff are showing mixed success. The Commonwealth is significantly off track in reducing pollution from nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment.

To help jumpstart reductions, the Commonwealth has implemented specific, numeric goals in permits for small municipalities.

Click Here for a copy of the Pennsylvania portion of the report.  Click Here for Maryland.  Click Here for Virginia.

For more on Chesapeake Bay-related issues in Pennsylvania, visit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA webpage.  Click Here to sign up for Pennsylvania updates (bottom of left column).  Click Here to support their work.

For more information on Pennsylvania Chesapeake Bay efforts, visit DEP’s Phase III Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan webpage.

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[Posted: June 21, 2017]


6/26/2017

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