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The Chesapeake Bay region has entered into what will likely be a defining period in its history — at least in relation to the health of the Chesapeake ecosystem.
A partnership of federal and state governments launched in 2010 the most ambitious cleanup effort in the Bay’s history. The goal of this effort is to reduce the amount of nutrient pollution and sediments delivered to the Bay each year, actions that scientists say will improve water quality in the estuary. Maryland Sea Grant is playing a role in this partnership.
To drive forward this effort, the federal-state partnership, called the Chesapeake Bay Program, has designed a “pollution diet” for states in the Bay’s watershed — Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Their diet is also known by a more formal name, the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), which limits pollution in order to meet water-quality standards.
Under this plan, each state in the watershed will have to put in place by 2025 practices to trim its “loads” of nutrient and sediment. Those cuts will amount to:
The TMDL program is estimated to require massive new spending by the surrounding states. But, if carefully monitored and managed, this program could also bring significant benefits to the Bay region. Those include:
To learn more about the history and potential costs and benefits of the TMDL program, read our Q&A in Chesapeake Quarterly magazine.
Or read about the science behind the pollution diet in “A Model Plan: How Can We Gauge the Bay’s Cleanup,” a Chesapeake Quarterly feature story.
The Chesapeake Bay Program also publishes an assortment of resources on its website.
Governments, individuals, and groups across Maryland face large challenges in meeting the state’s TMDL goals. Maryland Sea Grant supports research that informs this process, helping to ensure that the Bay cleanup is based on the best science available.
Our Extension watershed restoration specialists conduct outreach to Maryland communities to help municipal leaders and individuals plan for and contribute to this cleanup. Some of our activities include:
Read more about the specialists' work in “A Garden of Opportunities for Cleansing Urban Storm Runoff,” a Chesapeake Quarterly feature story.
Getting assistance: Our Extension watershed specialists have created a tool to help anyone interested in finding funds or technical assistance to implement projects that restore Maryland's streams, rivers, bays, and watersheds. The Maryland Watershed Restoration Assistance Directory is a database that includes programs offered by a wide range of entities, including federal, state, and local governments, nonprofit organizations, and private foundations. This tool can be a useful resource for private individual and community projects and for municipalities that need assistance with projects that can help them meet their TMDL requirements.
Inspiring stewards: Our team also works to inspire and teach Maryland’s next generation of environmental stewards. Through workshops and training programs, we give Marylanders the skills they need to restore local watersheds and also act as leaders in their own communities. To discover more about training opportunities and programs, visit our Watershed Stewards page.