EPA Provides $6 Million to Reduce Excess Ag Runoff to the Chesapeake Bay
WASHINGTON (May 18, 2020) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the allocation of $6 million to Chesapeake Bay states to improve water quality by reducing excess nitrogen from agricultural operations.
“The water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed has recently reached the highest standards in more than 30 years,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “The primary focus of this funding is the continued reduction of nitrogen from agricultural sources, which has been one of the most difficult hurdles to overcome as we strive to make the Bay ever cleaner.”
“We have determined where these additional funds can best be put to use to most effectively result in the greatest water quality benefits in the bay,” said EPA Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio. “The efforts will also help to improve local streams and rivers across the watershed.”
The $6 million is part of an increase in the FY 2020 EPA Chesapeake Bay Program budget approved by Congress and signed by President Trump. The funds were designated for “state-based implementation in the most effective basins.”
EPA analyses have shown that reducing nitrogen through improved agricultural practices in the bay watershed is far less costly – and more effective – than reducing phosphorus to improve water quality.
Each state in the Chesapeake Bay watershed recently submitted Phase III Watershed Implementation Plans (WIP), in which they committed to reduce nitrogen loads from the agriculture sector from 2019 to 2025. The following funding allocations were calculated as a percentage of the total of each bay jurisdictions’ WIP commitments:
- Pennsylvania: $3,695,112
- Virginia: $1,110,191
- Maryland: $695,940
- Delaware: $364,540
- New York: $79,536
- West Virginia: $54,681
The District of Columbia, the remaining jurisdictional partner, does not have an agricultural commitment in its Phase III WIP.
The funding must be prioritized in each state to their most effective basins (allowing for the greatest impact from the reduction in nitrogen), and to those projects that implement “Best Management Practices” with the highest effectiveness.
Each of the 383 basins in the Chesapeake Bay watershed was evaluated as part of the relative effectiveness determination. A total of 26 of the top 30 most effective basins are located in Pennsylvania, including all of the top 15.
Pennsylvania had 61.6% of the commitments to reduce nitrogen from agricultural sources in the jurisdictions’ Phase III WIPs. West Virginia, by contrast, accounted for only 0.91% of those commitments. As a result, the nearly $3.7 million in “most effective” funding is the latest EPA financial support to help Pennsylvania achieve its 2025 Bay Total Maximum Daily Load goals. EPA is increasing its Chesapeake Bay Program funding for Pennsylvania because it has the largest commitment to reduce nitrogen.
EPA plans to add the funding to the bay states’ Chesapeake Bay grants, or, in some cases, provide it to third parties through a Request for Applications. The states will be expected to track implementation activities they fund with this money.
For more information about EPA’s role in the Chesapeake Bay program, visit https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/about-chesapeake-bay-program-office.