MACo Associate Director Natasha Mehu joined county representatives from the other five Chesapeake Bay Watershed States to hear an update from the United State Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the status of the Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and Phase III Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) and offer feedback on the EPA’s communication and outreach efforts. The October 12 meeting was organized and hosted by the National Association of Counties (NACo) in Washington, DC.
Region 3 Administrator Shawn Garvin provided an overview of the EPA’s current TMDL efforts while other EPA officials discussed plans for the upcoming Phase III WIPs. A link to EPA’s WIP presentation is below. One of the most controversial EPA proposals is to assign pollution reduction loads directly to local governments as opposed to the states. (Maryland is the only Bay state to have county loading assignments but those assignments were made at the state and not the federal level.)
Mehu joined the other county representatives in expressing concern about a direct local assignment from EPA, noting that Maryland’s counties have already made significant progress and investment in the goals mandated by the State. On the topic of communication and outreach, Mehu praised the accessibility of the local EPA Bay Program office but expressed frustration with the Region 3 office, asserting that a direct and regular communication process was needed with county governments. EPA did indicate a willingness to improve its communication and data sharing with counties going forward.
MACo will continue to address TMDL and WIP issues at both the state and, in conjunction with NACo, the federal level.