Chesapeake Bay Pollution Limits (TMDL)
Pennsylvania's Watershed Implementation Plan
in millions of pounds per year
||2017 Interim Goal
|Go to Pennsylvania's WIP website >>
Pennsylvania has been a partner in the effort to restore the bay since the early 1980s. During that time, notable progress has been made in improving many local streams and reducing pollution that flows from the Commonwealth's rivers and streams into the Bay. Although precise estimates vary, the lion's share of pollution reductions have come from improved agricultural practices and, more recently, the updating of sewage treatment plant technologies.
As part of EPA's Bay pollution limit, Pennsylvania and the other Bay states agreed to create state-specific plans which, upon implementation, achieve their allocation of pollution reductions by 2025. Pennsylvania's plan, called a Watershed Implementation Plan or WIP, includes actions to be taken by farmers, sewage treatment plants, urban cities, suburban communities, rural towns, and citizens across Pennsylvania's Bay watershed.
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.
Milestone Progress Reports
All the Bay states' WIPs establish a plan to implement 60 percent of their Bay cleanup practices by 2017 and 100 percent by 2025. To track progress, Pennsylvania and the other states agreed to establish interim, two-year cleanup goals called milestones, and to publicly report progress toward achieving them beginning January 2011. The two-year milestones and progress reports are a critical tool to hold the states and EPA publicly accountable.
How Much Progress Has Pennsylvania Made?
Since 1985, Pennsylvania and the Bay states have achieved a little less than half the pollution reductions necessary to meet Bay restoration goals. These reductions, however, appear to be working as a recent study of actual conditions in the Bay by the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University showed that the size of the Bay's oxygen-starved "dead zone" has shrunk specifically because of efforts from the Bay states, including Pennsylvania.
Still, about 18,000 miles of streams and rivers in Pennsylvania and most of the Chesapeake Bay 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.
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 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 Bay will reach a tipping point when improvements outpace pollution and the Bay rebounds exponentially.
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