Establishing a Chesapeake Bay modeling laboratory would ensure that the CBP would have access to a suite of models that are state-of-the-art and could be used to build credibility with the scientific, engineering, and management communities. The CBP relies heavily on models for setting goals and evaluating nutrient control strategies; thus, the models are essential management tools that merit substantial investment to ensure that they can fulfill present and future needs. Currently, only a few technical professionals are fully knowledgeable of the details of the models and their development. The models are not widely used outside the CBP and, therefore, are unfamiliar to the broader scientific community. Credibility of the models is essential if the CBP goals and strategies are to be accepted and have widespread support. A Chesapeake Bay modeling laboratory would bring together academic scientists and engineers with CBP modelers to examine various competing models with similar objectives and work to enhance the quality of the simulations. An important component of the work of a modeling laboratory would be the integration of monitoring with modeling efforts. Joint research investigations focused on evaluating the success of the Bay recovery strategies could be centered in the laboratory, such as studies on the role of lag times in the observed pollutant loads and Bay responses. A close association with a research university would bring both critical review and new ideas. A laboratory could also facilitate improvements to the models to support the 2017 reevaluation of the TMDL and the WIPs.
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Recovery of the Chesapeake Bay from excessive nutrient and sediment loads will require profound changes in the Bay watershed. These changes include a greater awareness of each watershed inhabitant’s contribution to the Bay nutrient load, extensive adoption of urban and agricultural nutrient control practices, and widespread willingness to balance the cost of restoration programs with the quality of life values provided by the Bay and its land uses. The CBP has taken important steps toward improving the pace of implementation and accountability, including implementing the two-year milestone strategy. However, opportunities exist to improve upon the current tracking and accounting strategies, provide support for effective applications of adaptive management, and enhance the credibility of modeling strategies. To reach the long-term goals, Bay partners will likely need to consider innovative strategies, including some that are receiving little attention today. Meanwhile, given that nutrient legacy effects in the watershed will significantly delay the Bay’s full water quality response to land-based BMPs, the CBP should help the public understand lag times and uncertainties and develop program strategies to better quantify them.