In June 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provided its evaluations of progress by Chesapeake Bay jurisdictions and by federal agencies towards meeting two-year interim goals, or “milestones,” for the 2014-2015 period. The Bay watershed jurisdictions are Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
According to the EPA’s Web site for the 2014-15 evaluations, online at https://www.epa.gov/chesapeake-bay-tmdl/final-epa-evaluation-2014-2015-milestone-progress-and-2016-2017-milestone, “the milestones represent key check-in points on the way to having all pollution reduction measures in place by 2025 to restore the Bay and its tidal rivers. …By 2017, controls should be in place that would achieve 60 percent of the necessary pollutant reductions.”
EPA’s June 2016 report also included the agency’s evaluation of 2016-2017 milestone commitments by the Bay jurisdictions and federal agencies.
Evaluations and fact sheets for jurisdiction are available on Web site noted above, as of June 21, 2016. Below is an excerpt from the EPA’s overall evaluation, listing strengths, problem areas, issues to address; and potential federal actions (the level of oversight by the EPA; the level of EPA oversight increases from “ongoing oversight” to “enhanced oversight” to “backstop actions level.” Virginia-related items are bolded in the lists below. The overall evaluation is also available on the Web site mentioned above.
For a news media account on the EPA progress report, see Nitrogen pollution reductions lagging, EPA warns, Bay Journal, 6/17/16.
For other Water Central News Grouper posts on previous “milestone” progress reports, please see this link: https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=milestones.
EXCEPT FROM EPA REPORT
- Delaware conducted cropland transect surveys to track and report cover crop and conservation tillage data and will be conducting these surveys annually in the future.
- The District of Columbia completed enhanced nutrient removal (ENR) upgrades at Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Plant.
- Maryland implemented Phosphorus Management Tool regulations, effective June 8, 2015.
- Maryland completed development of tracking system for agriculture and is moving forward with developing similar tracking system for the urban/suburban stormwater sector.
- New York implemented two rounds of the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program for a total of $6.1 million to support technical assistance and BMP implementation by Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
- Pennsylvania funded the development of 433 nutrient management/manure management plans and 203 agriculture erosion and sediment (E&S) control plans as of June 2015.
- Pennsylvania continued to make progress with issuing wastewater permits that are consistent with the assumptions and requirements of applicable Bay TMDL wasteload allocations.
- Virginia continued providing advanced funding for livestock exclusion through FY15, budgeted additional funding for stream exclusion in Chesapeake Bay watershed from federal Bay Grants ($3.5M) and state funds ($3M), and will add $17.5M for FY16-17.
- Virginia committed to project poultry house construction and plans to offset any increase in nutrients.
- West Virginia met the vast majority of Agricultural and Wastewater programmatic and numeric milestones and added programmatic milestones related to enhancing BMP tracking, verification and reporting program in the agriculture and urban/suburban stormwater sectors.
- EPA and the Bay jurisdictions set nutrient and sediment pollution reduction targets for more than 700 federal facilities throughout the watershed; federal agencies submitted facility-specific milestones for FY16-17.
- Delaware did not issue Phase II MS4 General Permit.
- Maryland did not provide schedule or next steps for finalizing the state’s “Accounting for Growth” regulations.
- New York is not on track to meet 2017 targets for nitrogen and sediment.
- Pennsylvania did not increase implementation of priority practices to improve water quality such as grass buffers, animal waste management, and nutrient management; also, did not increase implementation in urban areas to meet its load reduction commitments.
- Virginia urban/suburban loads remain off track for nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment.
- West Virginia did not meet the state’s urban/suburban stormwater sector nitrogen target for 2014-2015 and is not on track to meet the urban/suburban stormwater target for nitrogen in 2016-2017.
- EPA issued only two of four technical memoranda on nutrient trading scheduled for completion in 2015.
ISSUES TO ADDRESS
- Delaware: issue permit coverage for the 167 non-land-applying poultry operations that submitted a Notice of Intent for coverage and issue a permit for land applying operations.
- Delaware: provide adequate documentation to support its nutrient management compliance levels submitted for the 2015 progress reporting year by October 2016.
- The District of Columbia: develop schedule and anticipated timeframes for implementation of revised MS4 permit and accelerate implementation of retrofits consistent with MS4 permit.
- Maryland: issue tentative determinations for Phase II MS4 permits (i.e., draft permits) by September 30, 2016, and issue final determinations (i.e., final permits) by March 31, 2017.
- Maryland: review, approve, and/or take appropriate enforcement actions according to established Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on Phase I MS4 Restoration Plans submitted during or prior to the 2016-2017 period.
- New York: provide milestone describing new plans for funding and implementing updated suite of BMPs, or explanation of how implementation of current suite of BMPs will be accelerated by additional funding and/or new programs in order to get back on track with Phase II WIP targets.
- Pennsylvania: revise milestones to include increased levels of priority BMP implementation.
- Pennsylvania: develop a plan for how to redistribute urban/suburban stormwater loads and provide reasonable assurance for those reductions; consider all sectors when doing so.
- Virginia: show more aggressive implementation of practices to manage urban and suburban stormwater.
- West Virginia: implement more aggressive programmatic milestones to close the nitrogen gap in the urban/suburban stormwater sector.
- Bay jurisdictions should work with the CBP partnership and federal agencies to ensure data reported by federal agencies is entered into the National Environmental Information Exchange Network so CBP simulation tools can more accurately reflect implementation at federal facilities.
- Federal agencies need to improve the completeness of reported data; EPA notes instances of lapsing agency reporting activities
POTENTIAL FEDERAL ACTIONS AND ASSISTANCE
EPA will maintain “Ongoing Oversight” for most sectors in most Bay jurisdictions; some sectors merit additional federal oversight:
- EPA is downgrading the Delaware Agriculture sector to “Enhanced Oversight” and will be carefully monitoring progress toward the following: providing permit coverage for non-land-applying CAFO operations; issuance of a CAFO permit for land applying agriculture operations; and compliance documentation to justify nutrient management credit.
- EPA will maintain the Delaware Wastewater sector in “Enhanced Oversight”
- EPA will maintain ongoing oversight for the urban/suburban stormwater sector [in Maryland]; however, EPA may downgrade this sector to “Enhanced Oversight” in subsequent evaluations if Maryland does not make substantial improvements
- EPA will potentially downgrade New York’s Agriculture sector to “Enhanced Oversight” by the end of 2016 unless the state provides a detailed strategy describing how it will offset increased loads identified in the 2012 Agriculture Census and meet the state’s Phase II 2017 WIP planning targets; New York has agreed to provide this detailed strategy to EPA by August 5, 2016 – EPA will evaluate this strategy and would maintain “Ongoing Oversight” if a clear, credible strategy is provided.
- EPA will maintain the Pennsylvania agriculture and urban/suburban stormwater sectors in “Backstop Actions Level” and will maintain the Offsets and Trading sector in “Enhanced Oversight.”
- EPA will maintain “Enhanced Oversight” for the Virginia Urban/Suburban Stormwater sector.
- EPA will upgrade the West Virginia Agriculture sector to “Ongoing Oversight.”
- EPA will maintain “Ongoing Oversight” for West Virginia urban/suburban stormwater but will continue to monitor West Virginia’s progress in closing the nitrogen gap in the 2016-2017 milestone period.
- Federal agencies have a responsibility to ensure BMPs are planned, installed, maintained, tracked and reported, which the new BayFAST tool will help facilitate, in support of jurisdictions meeting WIP commitments and the Bay TMDL allocations and Federal lands and facilities meeting their targets.
Substantial improvements in any jurisdiction’s sectors during the milestone period may lead EPA to upgrade those sectors’ oversight category in subsequent evaluations.