Chesapeake Bay Put on "Pollution Diet"

By Tim Persinko
|  Wednesday, Dec 29, 2010  |  Updated 3:00 PM EDT
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Chesapeake Bay Put on "Pollution Diet"

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The Environmental Protection Agency released a new plan on Wednesday to reduce the amount of pollution entering the Chesapeake Bay.  The announcement comes on the heels of a non-profits' report early this week that gave the waterway failing marks for toxicity and clarity.

EPA administator Lisa P. Jackson said it was a collaboration of state and federal regulators that came up with this plan to clean up the water in the Chesapeake, a plan she called a "pollution diet." 

"We're very pleased with efforts of state officials that helped us get to this point," Jackson said in a press release.

The diet calls for a 25 percent reduction in nitrogen entering the water and a 24 percent reduction in phosphorous.  The two substances contribute to the growth of bacteria that cause algal blooms and "dead zones."  The plan also requires a reduction of the amount of sediments entering the water.

The EPA's plan calls upon state legislators to exercise their own power to regulate these emissions.  In Virginia and Delaware, that means more stringent control of the waste that gets released by sewer treatment plants.  In Maryland and Virginia, parts of the plan calls for funding better storm runoff systems, and better management of fertilizer runoffs from agriculture.

How effective will these measures be?  The EPA has had similar plans for cleaning up the Bay's waters since the 1990's.  This current "pollution diet" is due to the failures of those earlier provisions.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation applauded the EPA's announcement, but urged strong followup.

"The hardest work is still to come," the Foundation wrote in a press release.  "The states and the District of Columbia must implement the plans through new laws, regulations, funding, and enforcement, and EPA must hold all jurisdictions accountable."

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