On December 3, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) submitted its final Phase I Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Phase I WIP describes the strategies that State and local governments will use to meet the federally mandated Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) reductions in nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment runoff into the Bay and its tributaries. The Phase I WIP will be used to draft the more detailed Phase II WIP in 2011, which will set specific reduction targets for individual counties.
In their transmittal letter to the EPA, the Secretaries of Agriculture, Environment, Natural Resources, and Planning discuss Maryland’s ambitious timeline for meeting its TMDL goals, describe how they plan to use TMDL growth restrictions to further Smart Growth, and also state the need for federal funding assistance:
In 2008, Maryland committed to ambitious 2-year milestones to accelerate on-the-ground efforts to meet nutrient reduction goals by 2020 – five years earlier than the 2025 end date agreed to by [EPA] and the other Bay jurisdictions. We used our BayStat process to develop these milestones and put Maryland on track to meet our ultimate Bay Restoration Goals by 2020. We are happy to report that this first set of 2-year milestones will be completed by December 31, 2011. These milestones will be followed by subsequent 2-year milestones until we achieve our goals. …
Maryland continues to grow. By 2020, our population is expected to increase by 560,000 people. EPA requires the States to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution from all source sectors and also “account for growth.” Maryland’s strategy to offset pollution from new development will be crafted by 2013 after extensive public discussion. It will encourage growth in designated growth areas rather than in farmland and woodland areas, and target loads for new and increased sources for new development and redevelopment. In less polluting geographies per capita served by state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plants that accommodate relatively high densities of residents and jobs, such as priority funding areas, little or no offsets will be required. In areas with higher per-capita pollution rates, greater offsets will be needed. …
As required, the Plan outlines preliminary cost estimates. The preliminary estimated overall costs to Maryland from 2011 through 2017 could be as high as $10 billion. [MACo has seen estimates indicating the number could be higher.] While we know that all states in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, including Maryland, must bear their fair share of the burden, we also believe that the Federal government also must play an important role in assisting the state and local share of costs and technical services. We are committed to working with the public to explore every option to develop the fairest and most cost effective set of fiscal actions for the work ahead.
A December 3 Baltimore Sun article provides some of the WIP highlights:
The 234-page document, presented four days after a federal deadline for bay states to submit final cleanup plans, spells out steps state officials pledge to take over the next seven years to achieve 70 percent of the pollution reductions needed. And, for the first time, it projects the added costs and options for financing the effort, including federal aid and fees.
Among the plan’s more ambitious and potentially controversial measures:
•Mandating retrofits of storm drains, pavement removal and other projects in the state’s cities and suburbs to curb polluted rainwater washing off streets, parking lots and lawns, an effort projected to cost $2.6 billion;
•Requiring nearly 28,000 households near the bay and its river tributaries to upgrade their septic systems, at an estimated cost of $358 million;
•Revising fertilizer guidelines to curtail Eastern Shore farmers’ widespread use of poultry manure on croplands, while also getting growers to plant thousands of acres more in pollution-absorbing trees and grass instead of crops near water. …
One area where the plan seeks federal funds is to help pay the $2.6 billion estimated to be needed to curb polluted storm water from cities and suburbs. Only five Maryland localities, most of them near Washington, levy fees dedicated to reducing polluted runoff. State officials vow to press local officials to find ways to finance these efforts, and if they don’t, to seek legislation in 2012 mandating storm water fees statewide.