EPA report: 3 states fall short of Chesapeake Bay pollution goals

A fish kill from September 2008 attacked menhaden fish in Aberdeen Creek in Maryland. (Courtesy John Surrick/Chesapeake Bay Foundation)
A fish kill from September 2008 attacked menhaden fish in Aberdeen Creek. (Courtesy John Surrick/Chesapeake Bay Foundation)
Polluting sediment clouds York River in Virginia in this photo taken in 2005. (Courtesy Bill Portlock/Chesapeake Bay Foundation)
Polluting sediment clouds Virginia’s York River in this photo taken in 2005. (Courtesy Bill Portlock/Chesapeake Bay Foundation)
Healthy underwater grasses and clear water off Poplar Island, Md., in September 2015 are signs that the Chesapeake Bay water’s health is improving. (Courtesy Pete McGowan/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Healthy underwater grasses and clear water off Poplar Island, Md., in September 2015 are signs that the Chesapeake Bay water’s health is improving. (Courtesy Pete McGowan/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Here’s a look beneath the surface of the Chesapeake Bay.  (Video courtesy of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation) (Courtesy Pete McGowan/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
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A fish kill from September 2008 attacked menhaden fish in Aberdeen Creek in Maryland. (Courtesy John Surrick/Chesapeake Bay Foundation)
Polluting sediment clouds York River in Virginia in this photo taken in 2005. (Courtesy Bill Portlock/Chesapeake Bay Foundation)
Healthy underwater grasses and clear water off Poplar Island, Md., in September 2015 are signs that the Chesapeake Bay water’s health is improving. (Courtesy Pete McGowan/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
May 20, 2024 | Beth McGee, Chesapeake Bay Foundation senior water quality scientist (WTOP)

WASHINGTON — Three watershed states in the mid-Atlantic region that have committed to reducing pollution flowing into the Chesapeake Bay are failing to meet established goals, a new report finds.

The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday released its final evaluations of the Bay jurisdictions’ and federal agencies’ progress toward meeting 2014–2015 commitments to the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.

In a news release, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation noted some of the EPA’s findings:

  • Pennsylvania did not meet its 2015 goal for nitrogen and sediment pollution reduction and will not meet its 2017 goals for nitrogen and phosphorus. Pennsylvania will meet its goal for sediment
  • Maryland did not meet its 2015 goal for nitrogen pollution reduction but is on track to meet its 2017 goals for nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment
  • Virginia met its 2015 goals for nitrogen and phosphorus, but not sediment, and is on track to meet its 2017 goals for nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment

Nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment cause the pollution that dampens the bay’s ability to nurture crabs, oysters and fish.

“Of all the states, Pennsylvania is certainly the farthest behind,” said Beth McGee, senior water quality Scientist at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “Pennsylvania doesn’t have any bay front property, so it’s a little bit of a harder sell. Our slogan is ‘Save the Bay’ and for most Pennsylvanians, they don’t really enjoy the bay — they don’t visit the bay.”

McGee said that Maryland and Virginia can’t rest on their laurels.

“A lot of the low hanging fruit, in terms of pollution reductions, has already been achieved,” McGee said. “So it’s only going to be harder moving forward to get the reductions that we need ultimately to restore the bay and it’s tidal rivers.”

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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