Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint
Pennsylvania's Watershed Implementation Plan
Collectively, the EPA's TMDL and the state Watershed Implementation Plans establish the Clean Water Blueprint for the Chesapeake.
Pennsylvania and the other six Bay jurisdictions agreed to create state-specific plans to implement 60 percent of their Bay cleanup practices by 2017 and 100 percent by 2025. These plans are called Watershed Implementation Plans or WIPs and will not only help restore the Bay, but will also significantly improve the health of local waterways.
PENNSYLVANIA'S PROGRESS TOWARD 2017 GOALS
In June 2016, EPA evaluated Pennsylvania's progress to date. Their findings are summarized here.
Although implementing the Blueprint is a challenge, the benefits to our region’s economy, society, and environment far surpass the costs. For example, streamside buffers reduce runoff and flooding. Cover crops and conservation tillage reduce nutrient and sediment runoff, while improving crop production. Healthy streams provide opportunities for fishing, and other recreational activities. According to CBF’s 2014 Economic Report, the value of these natural benefits in Pennsylvania is estimated to be over $6 billion greater with Blueprint implementation.
The Clean Water Blueprint will only work if all sources of pollution do their fair share. The Blueprint includes measures for accountability, deadlines for achieving pollution reductions, as well as consequences, such as requiring further costly reductions from wastewater treatment plans, for failing to meet them.
You can track progress for all Bay jurisdictions, including Pennsylvania, on EPA's Chesapeake Stat website site. On EPA's Chesapeake Bay TMDL website you can read about progress already being realized.
WHAT OBSTACLES DOES THE CLEANUP FACE?
Apathy, finger-pointing, anti-Bay legislation and lawsuits, powerful interest groups, and a bad economy all threaten to derail the collaborative local/state/federal Bay cleanup. Yet most experts consider this the Chesapeake Bay's best, and perhaps last, chance for real restoration. The problems have been identified; we have the know-how and tools to fix them; and the benefits of a restored Chesapeake Bay manifestly outweigh cleanup costs. If we work together to make the pollution limits work, many scientists believe the Chesapeake Bay will reach a tipping point when improvements outpace pollution and the Bay rebounds exponentially.
Pennsylvania has been a partner in the effort to restore the bay since the early 1980s. During that time, progress has been made in improving many local streams and reducing pollution that flows from the Commonwealth's rivers and streams into the Bay.
Nonetheless, roughly 19,000 miles of streams and rivers in Pennsylvania remain polluted from the legacy of coal mining, dirty water running off streets, parking lots, lawns, and farms, from poorly treated wastewater, air pollution, and other sources. Much work remains to be done.
Today, Pennsylvania lags significantly behind other Bay states in meeting its targets for agriculture and stormwater practices. There is still time for Pennsylvania to get back on track, but much work remains to be done.
TRACKING PENNSYLVANIA'S WIP
In early 2011, EPA approved Pennsylvania's "Phase I" WIP dated January 11, 2011. Upon review, however, EPA cited several deficiencies in Pennsylvania's Phase I WIP that resulted in EPA proposing "backstops" to assure pollutant reductions in the plan would be achieved.
The next step in the process was the development of a Phase II WIP. In general, this plan is supposed to bring the effort to a more localized level, such as a county. Pennsylvania's Final Phase II WIP was provided to EPA March 30, 2012.
In 2017, Pennsylvania and the other Bay states are to submit a Phase III WIP which will focus on ensuring that all practices are in place by 2025 as need to fully restore the Bay and its tidal waters.
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