Phase III WIP & Bay TMDL Update at 2017 #MACoCon

From Left to Right: Adam Ortiz, Benjamin Grumbles, Bruce Williams, and Carin Bisland.

Attendees to the 2017 MACo Summer Conference heard an update on the status of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) on August 18. The facilitated discussion panel, “What Will We See in Phase III? A Bay TMDL Update”, was moderated by Local Government Advisory Committee Chair Bruce Williams. 

United States Environmental Protection Agency Chesapeake Bay Program Associate Director Carin Bisland provided a history of the Bay TMDL and gave an overview of entire TMDL and WIP process.

Maryland Secretary of the Environment Benjamin Grumbles stated that the “final targets for Bay TMDL are within reach” for Maryland, subject to sustained federal funding and proper use of enforcement backstops.  Grumbles cited the State’s targeted approach to the use of best available technology for nitrogen removal (BAT) for septic systems, the recent passage of the Clean Water Commerce Act, a the pending implementation of a nutrient credit trading system. Grumbles also stated that Maryland does not intend to have counties develop individual Phase III WIPs. Instead, the State will incorporate county actions into a statewide Phase III WIP.

Prince George’s County Environmental Resources Director Adam Ortiz stressed that counties are in the “delivery business” and faced various challenges in meeting the Bay TMDL goals, including funding and lack of project contractors. However, Ortiz was overall optimistic on restoration efforts and believed “We are entering a ‘golden age’ for the Chesapeake Bay.”

Panelists also dealt with audience questions concerning the Conowingo Dam, cross sector trading, sector specific accounting, and the use of oyster farming for nutrient credits.