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Prepare For EPA Action If PA Does Not Meet 2017 Stream Cleanup Milestones

Pennsylvania has 627 days (as of April 13) to put the best management practices on the ground needed to eliminate 10 million pounds of nitrogen and 212 million pounds of sediment from going into our rivers and streams to meet the 2017 Chesapeake Bay cleanup milestones.

Pennsylvania is even further behind because we did not meet the 2013 pollution reduction milestones.

Last June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported 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.

If Pennsylvania does not catch up on meeting the 2013 milestones and meet the next milestones in 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to impose additional pollution reduction requirements, or backstops, directly.  These measures, determined by EPA, would include--

— Require NPDES Permits For Farms And Other Sources Now Not Regulated: For example, utilizing "Residual Designation Authority" to increase the number of sources, operations and/or communities regulated under the NPDES permit program like smaller livestock farms;

— EPA Review Of Water Quality Permits, Changing Inadequate Permits, And Increased Program Oversight: Pursuant to EPA Jurisdiction NPDES program agreements, expanding EPA oversight review of draft permits (major and minor) in the Bay watershed and objecting to inadequate permits that do not meet the requirements ofthe Clean Water Act (including but not limited to NPDES effluent limits that are not consistent with the Bay TMDL's wasteload allocations);

— Require New Development To Offset Any Additional Pollution Loads: For new or increased point source discharges, requiring net improvement offsets that do more than merely replace the new or expanding source's anticipated new or increased loadings;

— Set New Limits For Reducing Nutrient And Sediment Pollution: Establishing more specific allocations in the final December 2010 Bay TMDL than those proposed by the States and the District of Columbia;

— Require Additional Reductions From Point Sources:  Revising the final December 2010 Bay TMDL to reallocate additional load reductions from non-point to point sources of nutrient and sediment pollution, such as wastewater treatment plants;

— Increase And Target Federal Enforcement And Compliance Assurance In The Watershed:  This could include both air and water sources of nutrients and sediment;

— Condition Or Redirect EPA Grants To Achieve Bay Reductions: Conditioning or redirecting federal grants; incorporating criteria into future Requests for Proposals based on demonstrated progress in meeting Watershed Implementation Plans and/or in an effort to yield higher nutrient or sediment load reductions; and

— Set New, Local Nutrient Water Quality Standards: Initiating promulgation of federal standards where the State or the District water quality standards do not contain criteria that protect designated uses locally or downstream.

While Gov. Wolf’s proposed FY 2015-16 budget has does not address the need to do anything different to meet the 2017 milestones, which it clearly should, Acting DEP Secretary John Quigley recognizes how far behind Pennsylvania is.

He told the Senate Appropriations Committee that Pennsylvania is not meeting its commitments to clean up the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and that a “reboot” is needed to get the program back on track.

He said there is a lack of resources for the program and he is working directly with Acting Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding to take a fresh look at the program.  Both Quigley and Redding are meeting with key stakeholders to develop a plan for digging out of the hole Pennsylvania finds itself in.

Click Here to read a copy of the EPA letter outlining the backstop measures for not meeting Chesapeake Bay cleanup milestones.

For more information, visit the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint webpage.

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4/13/2015

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