Earlier this week, DEP Secretary John Quigley and Deputy Secretary Dana Aunkst provided updates on the department’s “rebooted” Chesapeake Bay strategy to nearly 50 chamber members and local government officials at a joint Environmental & Energy and Local Government subcommittee meeting.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Pennsylvania is not meeting its nitrogen and sediment reduction goals. While the state’s wastewater treatment sector has achieved its pollutant reduction goals, other source sectors have not.
“Pennsylvania is behind the curve,” stated Secretary Quigley, “and we simply will not meet our required reductions by 2017. We need to get back on track for 2025.” In collaboration with the Pennsylvania departments of Agriculture and Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and the State Conservation Commission, DEP developed a plan to enhance their approach to water quality improvements in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Secretary Quigley outlined the six main recommendations included in the strategy:
- Address pollutant reduction deficiencies – inspect 10% of farms each year with increased inspection and compliance efforts in the agriculture sector.
- Focus on local water quality improvement and protection – locate and quantify previously undocumented BMPs and implement high-impact, low-cost BMP projects on the ground in impaired watersheds.
- Improve reporting, record keeping, and data systems – better documentation efforts and consider establishing mandatory reporting requirements for the agriculture sector.
- Identify strategic legislative, programmatic, or regulatory changes – equip Pennsylvania with essential tools and resources to meet the 2025 Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) reduction goals.
- Establish a new Chesapeake Bay Office within DEP – ensure future efforts to restore the bay are properly developed, implemented, and coordinated; administer DEP’s Chesapeake Bay Program grant.
- Obtain additional resources for water quality improvement – seek new funding resources to potentially make several hundred million dollars available to devote to local water quality issues and Bay compliance.
Secretary Quigley noted DEP has already begun executing these recommendations and proposes to implement all six goals by June 2017.
Access the complete Chesapeake Bay strategy here.