News Feature | January 6, 2014

Stakeholders Debate New Chesapeake Restoration Deal

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

chesapeakereg

States in the Chesapeake watershed are negotiating a new agreement on how to restore the bay, and the shifting terms of the deal are already causing controversy. 

Environmentalists found fault with the November draft of the deal. The proposal is expected to be revised in the coming months and signed by governors in the summer, according to the Capital Gazette.

A provision allowing states to opt out of restoration projects got heat from environmental advocates, the report said. 

“Our concern is if a worst-case scenario happens, if a state chooses to opt out of an action, that is really meaningful,” said Kim Coble, vice president of environmental protection and research for the nonprofit Chesapeake Bay Foundation, in the report. 

“There’s not really room for a state to say, ‘I’m not interested in that part of bay cleanup,’” Coble said.

A Nov. 8 draft of the agreement said, according to the Gazette: “Each signatory may exercise its discretion to participate in the development and implementation of individual outcomes’ management strategies depending upon relevance, resources, priorities or other factors.”

The ongoing effort to restore the bay by way of the Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) has made some headway, supporters say.  CBP is a regional partnership that has worked on bay issues since 1983.

Late last year, the program released its 2012-2013 Bay Barometer: Health and Restoration in the Chesapeake Watershed report, "which collects and summarizes the program’s most recent data on water quality, pollution loads and other indicators of bay health," according to SoMdNews

"Though indicators of ecological health continue to reflect the reality of an impaired bay, our restoration work and efforts to reduce the flow of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment into rivers and streams give bay officials cause for optimism," according to an announcement about the results, per SoMdNews.

“Similarly, new data provides insights on lag times across the watershed, or that period of time that occurs between restoration work and visible improvements in water quality," it said. 

The nonprofit Chesapeake Bay Foundation delivered a less optimistic view this week. 

"Federally funded efforts to curtail farm pollution of the Chesapeake Bay are falling short, and recent spending cuts by Congress cast doubt on the efforts' ultimate success," the group said, according to the Baltimore Sun

For an assessment of congressional Chesapeake Bay recovery efforts, check out coverage on Water Online.

Image credit: “Ocean  View Sunset 2005," © 2005 joleethomp:, used under an Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

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