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EPA: Pennsylvania Falls Short In Meeting 2013 Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Milestones

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported Thursday Pennsylvania exceeded its 2013 Chesapeake Bay cleanup milestone for phosphorus by 242,000 pounds, but fell short in meeting the nitrogen goal by 2 million pounds and sediment reduction milestone by nearly 116 million pounds.

As reported last week to the DEP Citizens Advisory Council, Pennsylvania must reduce its nitrogen load going into our rivers and streams by over 10 million pounds, our sediment load by nearly 212 million pounds and our phosphorus pollution by 141,000 pounds if we are to meet our 2017 Chesapeake Bay cleanup milestones.

DEP said wastewater plants and the forest sector have already met the 2017 nitrogen and phosphorus reductions. Wastewater plants have already met the 2017 for sediment/total suspended solids reductions.

The size of the reductions Pennsylvania must achieve to meet the 2017 milestones in the next three years will offer real challenges to the Commonwealth, particularly for needed reductions from agriculture, urban/stormwater runoff and on-lot septic systems.

The size of the reductions needed for agriculture alone, at least according to the models, are approximately equal to more than all the reductions achieved by the Chesapeake Bay Program in Pennsylvania for the 27 years from 1985 through 2012.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William C. Baker issued this statement following the release of the milestones report by EPA--

“The transparency and accountability that these milestones provide are crucial to meeting the goal of restoring water quality in local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay. EPA’s analysis and the actions it is taking represent the leadership the Bay and all the rivers and streams need, both strong and fair.

“Each of the Bay jurisdictions must do better if they are to achieve their 2017 and 2025 goals. EPA has identified the strengths and weaknesses in each jurisdiction, as well as pointing out what each must do to improve its performance. We have seen progress, demonstrating that the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is working, but the Bay jurisdictions clearly need to accelerate their efforts.

“But clearly, Pennsylvania has been given a failing grade.  The Commonwealth must demonstrate leadership immediately to improve its pollution reduction efforts. People upstream and down will benefit. In Pennsylvania, jobs will be created, streams and drinking water will be cleaner, fish stocks will be healthier, and the Bay will improve.

“Holding the states accountable for meeting their commitments is a historic event in Bay restoration efforts, one which will ensure that we leave a legacy of clean water to our children and future generations.”

Because of shortfalls in agriculture and urban/suburban runoff, EPA will condition its grants to the Commonwealth to ensure the money goes to help accelerate implementation of key practices.   EPA is also considering requiring additional pollution reduction from sewage treatment plants if progress continues to be insufficient.

CBF calls on Pennsylvania to:

-- Conduct comprehensive and meaningful inspections for compliance with existing laws in both the agricultural and urban sectors, and where necessary to ensure consequential and timely enforcement;

-- Develop specific and quantifiable permits for regulated urban/suburban stormwater; and

-- Enact a severance tax on unconventional natural gas drilling, which prioritizes significant resources towards implementing pollution reduction practices.

A fact sheet on Pennsylvania’s milestones progress is available online as well as the complete milestones report.


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