A Bay Journal article (2019-04-19) reported that Pennsylvania’s draft Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) would meet its phosphorus reduction requirements but only achieve two-thirds of its nitrogen reduction goals.
The Phase 3 WIP outlines how the state will meet its water pollution reduction goals under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) by the final 2025 deadline. The article noted that Pennsylvania submitted its draft WIP to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on April 12.
Pennsylvania has lagged far behind most other states in its Bay restoration efforts. A particular sore point in Maryland has been Pennsylvania pollution coming down the Susquehanna River and through the Conowingo Dam. Lack of action by Pennsylvania could undermine the restoration efforts of other states, including Maryland.
The article noted that under the Bay TMDL, Pennsylvania needs to reduce its nitrogen pollution by 39.5 million pounds by 2025. However, at of the end of 2017 the state had only reduced 5.4 million pounds, leaving a 34-million-pound shortfall (or roughly 75% of the total remaining nitrogen reductions needed).
Pennsylvania’s draft Phase 3 WIP would only address two-thirds of the 34-million-pound shortfall, leaving a gap of more than 11 million pounds. The article noted that just addressing two-thirds of the shortfall will require Pennsylvania to more than double its annual water pollution reduction budget to $257 million.
Deborah Klenotic, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Protection, acknowledged the plan only outlined actions that achieved two-thirds of the nitrogen goal, but said the state “will meet its obligations through additional measures.” …
Harry Campbell, Pennsylvania executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, expressed disappointment that Pennsylvania’s plan failed to address the state’s shortfall. “We’ve got to fix it and fund it,” he said.
The article noted that part of Pennsylvania’s challenge stems from the fact that much of its nitrogen pollution comes from agricultural and stormwater runoff – more than any other Bay watershed state.
Last year, EPA threatened Pennsylvania with punitive “backstops” that EPA has under the Bay TMDL if the state did not submit an acceptable WIP. EPA is reviewing Pennsylvania’s draft and declined to comment further. Other states, including Maryland, and various environmental organizations have raised the possibility of lawsuits if Pennsylvania fails to significantly increase its Bay restoration efforts.