EPA Answers BayTMDL Questions at MACo Winter Conference

Representatives from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were available to answer questions regarding the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and related issues at a January 4 lunch-session at the 2013 MACo Winter Conference.

EPA Mid-Atlantic (Region 3) Administrator Shawn Garvin discussed the need to focus on cost-effective activities and projects that would not only meet the Bay TMDL requirements but other goals as well.  He acknowledged the concern that all stakeholders need to participate in meeting their Bay TMDL goals.  He also stressed that the EPA was looking for “local innovation and leadership to move the TMDL forward.”

Chesapeake Bay Program Office Director Nicholas DiPasquale  discussed the significant effort expected of local governments and noted that “we know we are asking a lot of you.”  He also highlighted some available technical and financial resources, including a series of forums held by the Environmental Finance Center, several grant programs under the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the EPA’s own verification/accountability and septic system best practices programs.

Region 3 Water Program Division Director Jon Capacasa stated that good progress has been made in point source reductions and that Maryland is ahead of schedule in meeting its goals.  He also stated that the agricultural sector has made impressive gains.  Acknowledging that the required urban sector reductions tend to “dominate” the Bay TMDL cost totals, Mr. Capacasa stressed the need for innovation regarding green infrastructure and urban stormwater.  He also noted that EPA has issued an integrated planning framework on EPA’s website to help identify a county’s requirements under the federal Clean Water Act and set cost-effective priorities.

Questions from the audience included the need for a cost-benefit analysis, the Conowingo Dam’s contribution to Bay pollution, innovation and flexibility challenges for Maryland Counties, and the accuracy of the federal Chesapeake Bay watershed model..

St. Mary’s County Commission President Francis Jack Russell was the panel moderator.

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