Federal Bay Cleanup Effort Faulted for “Lack of Common Goals”

A recent report by the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the federally initiated plan for restoration of the Chesapeake Bay has met with mixed success, in part due to a lack of federal/state coordination. Coverage in the Baltimore Sun pointed toward the current lack of progress:

State officials are not working toward all the goals in the federal plan, the GAO report says, in part because they didn’t view it as theirs. That could cause confusion and undermine chances the bay restoration would finally succeed, the report warns, especially with funding constraints all levels of government are experiencing.

County governments have only recently received quantitative “target” figures for reductions of pollutants, but have been working for some time on strategies for Watershed Implementation Plans, as a means to achieve the overall goals of the federal action, a Total Maximum Daily Load (or TMDL) of various pollutants reaching the Bay.

Recommendations from the GAO report, include the following:

Recommendations for Executive Action

Recommendation: To improve the likelihood that bay restoration is attained, the Administrator of EPA should work collaboratively with federal and state bay restoration stakeholders to develop common bay restoration goals to help ensure that federal and state restoration stakeholders are working toward the same goals.

Recommendation: To improve the likelihood that bay restoration is attained, the Administrator of EPA should work collaboratively with federal and state bay restoration stakeholders to establish milestones for gauging progress toward measurable goals for the entire restoration effort.

Recommendation: To improve the likelihood that bay restoration is attained, the Administrator of EPA should work collaboratively with federal and state bay restoration stakeholders to develop an adaptive management process that will allow restoration stakeholders to evaluate progress made in restoring the bay and adjust actions as needed.

Recommendation: To improve the likelihood that bay restoration is attained, the Administrator of EPA should work collaboratively with federal and state bay restoration stakeholders to identify the indicators that will be used for assessing progress made in improving bay health and clarify how the entities responsible for assessing this progress will coordinate their efforts.

Each of the recommendations is listed as “open” for follow-up purposes, with the Environmental Protection Agency listed as the federal unit responsible for action.

Click here for information on the GAO report, or here to download a copy of the full report.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties

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