EPA: Pa. needs better plan to cut pollution flowing into Chesapeake Bay

The Environmental Protection Agency says Pennsylvania’s plan to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay is not good enough. Now, it must come up with a better one.

States around the bay have agreed to reduce the amount of pollution that ends up in their waterways and eventually flows into the Bay.

But the agency says Pennsylvania’s plan only meets 70% of its goal to reduce its release of nitrogen. Too much of that nutrient can lead to the growth of algae blooms that create “dead zones” in the bay.

The agency says the main source of nitrogen in the Keystone State is uncontrolled manure runoff.

“What’s missing are improved manure control policies and dependable state funding for agriculture cost-share programs for farmers. These are measures other states have had for a long time,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Adam Ortiz.

The agency will give Pennsylvania 90 days to submit an updated plan. It will also begin stepping up agriculture and stormwater inspections and enforcement in an effort to push the state to clean up its act.

“Enhanced inspections and enforcement are a last resort, but that is where we are,” Ortiz said. “We may live in different states in this region, but the rivers are shared by all, and each needs to do their part.”

The EPA says about 25,000 miles of Pennsylvania’s streams are so polluted, that they’re not suitable for fishing or recreation.

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter and anchor at WTOP.

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