Chesapeake Bay is less polluted than 10 years ago

Published 6:00 am Saturday, August 15, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Chesapeake Bay Program announced Monday, Aug. 10, that the amount of nitrogen and sediment pollution entering the Chesapeake Bay continued to decrease, while phosphorus pollution slightly increased from the previous assessment period.

Each year, the seven watershed jurisdictions — Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia — report the practices they have implemented to decrease the amount of pollution entering the Chesapeake Bay. 

The modeling team at the Chesapeake Bay Program runs this information through a sophisticated suite of modeling tools that generate estimates of how far our partners have come toward meeting their individual pollutant reduction goals as outlined in the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (Bay TMDL). 

Email newsletter signup

According to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Model, pollution controls put in place between 2009 and 2019 are estimated to have lowered overall nitrogen loads 11%, phosphorus loads 10% and sediment loads 4%. Experts attribute the decreases in estimated nitrogen and phosphorus loads to upgrades to wastewater treatment facilities, while reductions in sediment loads are due primarily to the implementation of best management practices in the agricultural sector.

Through the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, the Chesapeake Bay Program has committed to having in place 100% of the practices that would achieve all of the nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment reductions necessary to meet the goals outlined in the Bay TMDL in place by 2025. As of 2019, practices are currently in place to achieve 39% of the Bay TMDL nitrogen reductions, 49% of the Bay TMDL phosphorus reductions and 100% of the Bay TMDL sediment reductions.