News Feature | November 23, 2015

Chesapeake Bay Pollution Policies Under Scrutiny

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

It’s an important year for the future of nutrient policy on the Chesapeake Bay, since it’s the first time that states can report credits to the Bay Program.

A credit program approved by the Chesapeake Bay Program last year may change the way pollution control is handled in the region. The program “offers cities a way to get nutrient reduction credits by going beyond the minimum requirements of their stormwater permits,” the Bay Journal reported.

The backdrop is this: The EPA mandated that six states limit nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment discharge from reaching the Chesapeake Bay. The EPA's Chesapeake Bay program "is a unique regional partnership that has coordinated the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed since 1983," according to the agency.

What changes this year: “In 2015, localities became eligible to seek nutrient credits for the ‘Advanced Nutrient Discovery Program’ by shifting their local programs away from traditional visual outfall screening methods and toward targeted nutrient screening and discovery methods,” the report said.

Still, it is unclear whether the new credit policy will prove effective.

“Whether the new credits provide enough incentive for cities to do that depends on multiple factors: the city’s size and resources, the age and condition of its infrastructure, or if it has already invested in other practices such as urban stormwater retrofits or stream restorations,” the report said.

In its document on Chesapeake Bay pollution limits, the EPA called its effort in the region "a historic and comprehensive 'pollution diet' with rigorous accountability measures to initiate sweeping actions to restore clean water in the Chesapeake Bay and the region’s streams, creeks and rivers."

For more on polluted waters, visit Water Online’s Source Water Contamination Solutions Center.