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Wastewater treatment plant upgrades, agriculture improvements help decrease pollution

Today, the Chesapeake Bay Program announced that the amount of nitrogen and sediment pollution entering the Chesapeake Bay continued to decrease, while phosphorus pollution slightly increased from the previous assessment period. Each year, the seven watershed jurisdictions–Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia–report the practices they have implemented to decrease the amount of pollution entering the Chesapeake Bay.

The modeling team at the Chesapeake Bay Program runs this information through asophisticated suite of modeling toolsthat generate estimates of how far our partners have come toward meeting their individual pollutant reduction goals as outlined in theChesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load(Bay TMDL).

According to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Model, pollution controls put in place between 2009 and 2019 are estimated to have lowered overall nitrogen loads 11%, phosphorus loads 10% and sediment loads 4%. Experts attribute the decreases in estimated nitrogen and phosphorus loadsto upgrades to wastewater treatment facilities, while reductions in sediment loads are due primarily to the implementation ofbest management practicesin the agricultural sector.

Through the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, the Chesapeake Bay Program has committed to having in place 100% of the practices that would achieve all of the nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment reductions necessary to meet the goals outlined in the Bay TMDL in place by 2025. As of 2019, practices are currently in place to achieve 39% of the Bay TMDL nitrogen reductions, 49% of the Bay TMDL phosphorus reductions and 100% of the Bay TMDL sediment reductions.

Computer simulations show the following jurisdiction-specific breakdown of overall pollution reductions between 2009 and 2019:

  • In Delaware, pollution controls have lowered nitrogen loads 11%, phosphorus loads 19%, and sediment loads 42%. The state fell short of its 2019 pollution-reducing target for nitrogen but met its targets for phosphorus and sediment.
  • In the District of Columbia, pollution controls have lowered nitrogen loads 26%, phosphorus loads 11%, and sediment loads 19%. The District has met each of its 2019 pollution-reducing targets.
  • In Maryland, pollution controls have lowered nitrogen loads 12%, phosphorus loads 2%, and sediment loads 0%. The state fell short of its 2019 pollution-reducing targets for nitrogen and phosphorus but met its target for sediment.
  • In New York, pollution controls have lowered nitrogen loads 6%, phosphorus loads 15%, and sediment loads 7%. The state fell short of its 2019 pollution-reducing targets for nitrogen and sediment but met its target for phosphorus.
  • In Pennsylvania, pollution controls have lowered nitrogen loads 4%, phosphorus loads 15%, and sediment loads 14%. The Commonwealth has fallen short of each of its 2019 pollution-reducing targets.
  • In Virginia, pollution controls have lowered nitrogen loads 14% percent, phosphorus loads 10%, and sediment loads 2%. The Commonwealth fell short of its 2019 pollution-reducing targets for nitrogen and phosphorus but met its target for sediment.
  • In West Virginia, pollution controls have lowered nitrogen loads 4%, phosphorus loads 31%, and sediment loads 8%. The state has met each of its 2019 pollution-reducing targets.

To learn more about our progress toward having practices and controls in place to achieve a healthy Bay by 2025, visitChesapeakeProgress.com.