Bay TMDL Update: Conowingo, Climate Change, Growth & Phase III WIP Timeline

The Local Government Advisory Committee (LGAC) met via teleconference on March 21, 2018, and received updates on the implementation and development timeline of the Phase III Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). LGAC is composed of county and municipal members from each of the Bay watershed states and advises the Chesapeake Bay Program Executive Council on local government roles and challenges in meeting Bay TMDL goals.

The following information is summarized from a revised Phase III WIP implementation timeline and a presentation by the Chesapeake Bay Program (links to both are at the end of this article).

Phase III WIP Timeline

The Phase III WIPs are currently being drafted by all Bay watershed states and must detail how the states will meet their final nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment reduction goals under the Bay TMDL by 2025. Phase III WIP development began in 2016.

The revised timeline indicates the United States Environmental Protection Agency will finalize Phase III WIP expectations in March, 2018, and state pollution reduction targets will be finalized by May, 2018. Draft Phase III WIPs will be due in March, 2019, with finalized versions posted by June, 2019.

Conowingo Dam WIP

The water pollution caused by the Conowingo Dam will be accounted for in a separate WIP that will be overseen by a currently undetermined third party. The third party will be overseen by a steering committee from within the Bay Program. Funding for the Conowingo WIP implementation will likely come from each Bay State and the owner of the dam, Exelon.

Climate Change Impacts on the Bay

Climate change effects must be incorporated into the Phase III WIPs but specific pollution reduction goals will not be changed until 2021. Initially, states must include a narrative strategy on their current actions to address climate change.  Between now and 2021, researchers will work to develop a better understanding of the role climate change plays on the Bay and develop 2025 target loads that must be incorporated into the WIPs in 2021. (Preliminary modelling suggests that climate change will add an additional 9 million pounds of nitrogen and 500,000 pounds of phosphorus to state targets.)

The new loads will also be incorporated into each Bay state’s two-year milestones starting with the 2022-2023 milestone.

Accounting for Growth

The current plan is to use 2025 growth projections, based on each locale’s current zoning, to add additional pollution loads caused by growth into the Phase III WIP and two-year milestones. The growth projections will be updated every two years in coordination with local partners.

Other Updates

The Bay Program presentation also addressed: (1) Best Management Practice verification; (2) Bay Program funding under the FY 2018 and FY 2019 federal budgets; and (3) State spending on Bay TMDL efforts.

Useful Links

Phase III WIP Schedule (Version 4)

Chesapeake Bay Program Bay TMDL & Phase III WIP Update Presentation