Bay TMDL Role & Needs of Local Governments Highlighted in Bay Journal Op-Ed

In a Bay Journal op-ed (2016-03-29), United States Environmental Protection Agency Chesapeake Bay Program Director Nick DiPasquale stressed the primary role and importance of local governments in achieving Bay pollution reduction goals under the Bay’s Total Maximum Daily Load requirements. From the op-ed:

While the federal government and state agencies go about setting goals and establishing priorities, in the end it is local governments that implement many of the pollution control measures. They operate wastewater treatment plants; manage urban stormwater; make zoning and land use decisions; and enact ordinances. …

Local governments are on the front lines of efforts to achieve water quality standards under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load. In addition to achieving water quality goals, local governments are central to the success of our efforts to achieve many of the other goals established by the Watershed Agreement regarding fisheries, habitats, stewardship, land conservation, public access, environmental literacy and climate resiliency.

DiPasquale also discussed the need to provide local governments with both information and information-gathering tools to help meet their mandated goals, specifically highlighting a new tool call BayFAST:

We have built a number of other tools to assist the partnership in meeting its goals. We’ve developed a tool called BayFAST, which is being used by federal agencies with facilities located in the watershed to establish pollution reduction targets for their installations. This tool, the most recent in a series of customized planning tools, allows installations to evaluate a range of projects and estimate project costs for planning and budgetary purposes. It contains unit costs for each best management practice, including annualized costs for operation and maintenance. We’re working to include monetized benefits as well, so local officials can make well-informed choices by taking into account a broader set of considerations.

High-resolution land cover data for the watershed with allow the Bay Program to better define pollution-loading rates for a larger number of land uses. (Chesapeake Conservancy)
Example of BayFAST 1 meter and 30 meter resolution around town of Vienna (Source: Chesapeake Conservancy)

DiPasquale also highlighted the technical and financial assistance available to local governments through the Local Government Advisory Committee and the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Environmental Finance Center:

Many challenges remain. With so many local governments throughout the watershed, how do we provide timely and useful information to local decision makers? How do we share success stories so local governments and communities can benefit from new approaches that have demonstrated their value? How do we spread innovation more quickly to speed up the process of implementation?

The partnership’s Local Government Advisory Committee, which includes many local officials, is taking on several of these issues. They are participating in municipal and county meetings to get the word out and seek input, as well as trying to get local officials who have implemented successful approaches to share that information with their peers.

Through funding provided to the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office, local governments have received both financial and technical assistance. For the last three years, we’ve provided $5 million to the states and DC to support local governments. …

Additionally, funds made available by the EPA to the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation have supported a number of local projects. From 2008 through 2014, NFWF awarded nearly $9 million to local governments and $18.4 million to local organizations through four grant programs, including innovative nutrient and sediment reduction grant projects; small watershed grants; targeted watershed grants; and technical assistance grants. Finally, the Bay Program has provided $740,000 in funding to the Environmental Finance Center to help local governments identify public and private financing options to support urban stormwater and agricultural stormwater management.