A death warrant for the Chesapeake Bay?

40th Anniversary of the Chesapeake Bay Agreement Marked by Concerns Over EPA Failures

This Saturday marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of the first Chesapeake Bay Agreement. The historic event was witnessed by Maryland state senator Gerald Winegrad among 700 other hopeful activists. However, the optimism for a clean bay is being overshadowed by the harsh reality of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) failing in its duty to enforce the Clean Water Act and to push bay states to meet mandatory pollution reductions to restore the Chesapeake.

This capitulation comes after years of repeated failures to meet pollution reductions, with no consequences except impaired water quality, diseases from water contact, and declining fisheries and bay grasses. Despite being given 15 years to comply, the EPA and bay states are falling short of restoring basic water quality with impunity.

The recent commentary by Adam Ortiz, U.S. EPA Administrator for the Mid-Atlantic Region, would have readers believe the bay restoration is succeeding after four decades of formal efforts. However, the reality is that 72% of the bay’s waters are still impaired under the Clean Water Act, showing minimal improvement after years of efforts and billions of dollars spent.

The EPA Inspector General’s report in 2023 criticized the EPA’s failed leadership in not steering the states to significantly reduce the largest sources of remaining pollution — nonpoint sources, mostly agricultural pollution, and developed lands runoff.

Despite these findings, the EPA’s proposed solution is to continue to throw hundreds of millions of dollars at farmers for voluntary BMPs, which the experts argue will not work to achieve necessary water quality improvements.

The smallest dead zone in a generation was recorded in 2023, likely due to severe drought conditions lessening nutrient flows. Claims of a rebound in crab and oyster populations have been refuted by recent data, showing that juvenile crab abundance remains at one of its lowest levels and oyster populations remain at less than 2% of historic levels.

The STAC scientists concluded that the fact that water quality conditions have not deteriorated given significant economic and population growth, land use change, and a changing climate in the past three decades is a notable accomplishment. However, the question remains: are we to accept a Chesapeake Bay no better than today’s degraded body of water?

As the 40th anniversary of the Chesapeake Bay Agreement is marked, concerns over the inadequate progress in restoring the bay continue to grow.

Source: [Baltimore Sun](https://www.baltimoresun.com)

Join Our Social Group For Latest News Updates

WhatsApp Group

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *