Report: PA Exceeds Chesapeake Bay Phosphorus Reduction Goal, Misses On Nitrogen

June 11, 2014

An analysis of selected Chesapeake Bay cleanup milestones conducted by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Choose Clean Water Coalition found pollution is being reduced, however many jurisdictions fell short in implementing practices that reduce pollution from agricultural sources and urban and suburban polluted runoff. Pennsylvania’s part of the report said the Commonwealth exceeded its phosphorus goal and fell short in reaching its overall nitrogen pollution reduction goal. Of the eight practices evaluated, the Commonwealth met or exceeded its goals for four practices: barnyard runoff controls, stormwater infiltration practices, wastewater treatment plants, and conservation plans. It fell short in four areas: forest buffers, conservation tillage, nutrient application management, and erosion and sediment control. “We are very concerned Pennsylvania will not meet its 2017 pollution reduction goals. The gap between what has been done and what needs to be done is substantial,” said PennFuture’s Central Pennsylvania Outreach Coordinator Jennifer Quinn. “Reducing water pollution benefits all citizens of the Commonwealth by protecting drinking water quality, improving aquatic habitat, and ensuring we have numerous places to fish and swim.” While Pennsylvania farmers have made significant strides since 1985 in pollution reduction, some practices are falling short of achieving commitments. To help attain this essential goal, improved investment in cost-share and technical assistance programs that to help farms develop and implement required erosion and nutrient plans is necessary. Because these plans have been required by law for decades, adequate enforcement to ensure that all farms not only have them but are following them correctly is imperative. “As the largest contributor of nitrogen pollution damaging the Chesapeake Bay, Pennsylvania has an important responsibility to meet its pollution reduction goals,” said CBF’s Pennsylvania Executive Director Harry Campbell. “This effort is bigger than one community or one industry. The effort begins in our own backyards and in Pennsylvania’s rivers and streams. Investments made here have benefits here—protecting drinking water and human health, improving the quality of life in local communities, and improving agricultural production.” Pennsylvania also needs to continue to expand innovative approaches that maximize environmental benefits, such as CBF’s buffer bonus program. The program rewards farmers who establish riparian forested buffers with vouchers to cover additional pollution-reduction practices needed on the farmDelaware and Pennsylvania are the only two states in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed that did not meet their milestone goals.  Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. met their commitments.  New York does not have milestones. A copy of the Pennsylvania report is available online.The milestones, two-year commitments made by the Bay states and District of Columbia to reduce pollution, are a key part of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. In addition, the Blueprint includes pollution limits that will result in a restored Bay and long-term state plans designed to have practices in place by 2017 to achieve 60 percent of water quality improvements, and complete the process by 2025. NewsClips:Study Faults PA On Chesapeake Bay CleanupPA Hindering Chesapeake Bay Cleanup