ACHIEVING NUTRIENT AND SEDIMENT REDUCTION GOALS
IN THE CHESAPEAKE BAY
An Evaluation of Program Strategies and Implementation
Committee on the Evaluation of Chesapeake Bay Program Implementation
for Nutrient Reduction to Improve Water Quality
Water Science and Technology Board
Division on Earth and Life Studies
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the panel responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
This report was produced under assistance of Cooperative Agreement No. EP-C-09-003, TO# 5. Support for this project was provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Madicine
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BAY PROGRAM IMPLEMENTATION FOR NUTRIENT
REDUCTION TO IMPROVE WATER QUALITY
KENNETH H. RECKHOW, Chair, RTI International, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina
PATRICIA E. NORRIS, Vice Chair, Michigan State University, East Lansing
RICHARD J. BUDELL, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Tallahassee
DOMINIC M. DI TORO, University of Delaware, Newark
JAMES N. GALLOWAY, University of Virginia, Charlottesville
HOLLY GREENING, Tampa Bay Estuary Program, St. Petersburg, Florida
ANDREW N. SHARPLEY, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
ADEL SHIRMOHAMMADI, University of Maryland, College Park
PAUL E. STACEY, Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Durham, New Hampshire*
STEPHANIE E. JOHNSON, Study Director, Water Science and Technology Board
MICHAEL J. STOEVER, Research Associate, Water Science and Technology Board
* Formerly the director of Planning and Standards, Bureau of Water Protection and Land Reuse, Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection.
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The Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP), a partnership among the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the six watershed states, and the District of Columbia, is working at federal, state, and local levels to restore the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. In 1987, the CBP partners committed to reduce “controllable” phosphorus and nitrogen loadings to the Bay’s main stem by 40 percent by 2000. The CBP’s initial goals were modified in 1992, which led to a variety of actions directed at point and nonpoint sources of nutrient and sediment loading to the tributaries of the Bay. Unfortunately, progress has been limited and the nutrient and sediment reduction goals have not yet been attained.
During the years since the 1987 agreement, water pollution management under the Clean Water Act (CWA) shifted toward more quantitative assessments of water quality impairments. The CWA requires states and tribes to identify and maintain lists of water bodies that do not meet water quality standards and to develop total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) that the water bodies can receive and still comply with water quality standards. In 2000, the CBP partners signed an agreement that provided an alternative to developing a TMDL based on the expectation that actions would be taken that would result in the attainment of water quality standards within a 10-year period of time. However, a reevaluation in 2007 of nutrient and sediment target loads revealed that insufficient progress had been made toward improving water quality and meeting the intent of the 2000 agreement was unlikely. In response, the CBP and the federal government launched a new era of accountability, accompanied by more aggressive approaches to controlling nutrient and sediment pollution in the Bay
watershed, including the development of a TMDL for the Bay, watershed implementation plans, and a two-year milestone strategy (described in more detail in Chapter 1).
In 2009, the EPA requested that the National Research Council (NRC) evaluate and provide advice on the CBP nutrient reduction program and strategy. The EPA specifically directed the NRC to evaluate the tracking of best management practice implementation, tracking and accounting efforts, the two-year milestone strategy, and the states’ and federal agencies’ adaptive management strategies, and to suggest improvements to these strategies that might better attain the CBP goals (see Box S-1). The committee has not been charged to review the TMDL or the models used to develop it. To carry out this work, the NRC appointed a multidisciplinary committee of experts to provide advice to the EPA, the six states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the District of Columbia, other federal agencies, and other interested parties.
Our committee is indebted to many individuals for their contributions of information and resources. Specifically, we appreciate the efforts of our committee’s EPA technical liaisons—Julie Winters and Rich Batiuk—who assisted the committee with numerous requests for information and with utilizing the vast resources of agency expertise when needed. The committee also owes a debt of gratitude to the many individuals who educated our committee through their presentations at the open sessions of the committee’s meetings.
The committee has been fortunate to have the support and collaboration of an excellent NRC staff. Stephanie Johnson, study director, has been an extraordinary source of information and advice and has contributed significantly to this report. Michael Stoever, research associate, has provided superb support during and between meetings and has also been instrumental in producing the report. I speak for the entire committee in expressing our profound respect and gratitude.
This report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their breadth of perspectives and technical expertise in accordance with the procedures approved by the National Academies’ Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review was to provide candid and critical comments to assist the institution in ensuring that its published report is scientifically credible and that it meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The reviewer comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the deliberative process. We thank the following reviewers for their helpful suggestions, all of which were considered and many of which were wholly or partly incorporated into the final report: Donald F. Boesch, University of Maryland; Mark B. David, University of Illinois; Theo A. Dillaha, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; Joseph H. Harrison, Washington State University; Carlton
H. Hershner, Jr., Virginia Institute of Marine Science; David H. Moreau, University of North Carolina; Sujoy B. Roy, Tetra Tech Inc.; Thomas R. Schueler, Center for Watershed Protection; Kathleen Segerson, University of Connecticut; and Thomas W. Simpson, Water Stewardship Inc.
Although these reviewers provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions and recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by David A. Dzombak, Carnegie Melon University, and Ken W. Potter, University of Wisconsin. Appointed by the NRC, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments received full consideration. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the NRC.
Kenneth H. Reckhow, Chair
Committee on the Evaluation of
Chesapeake Bay Program Implementation for
Nutrient Reduction to Improve Water Quality
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