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Md., Va. Release More Plans to Protect the Chesapeake Bay

Maryland and Virginia have released final details of the latest round of plans to protect and tidy the Chesapeake Bay.

All six Chesapeake Bay states and the District of Columbia were due to submit their final plans to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by Friday. They have until 2025 to meet their goals.

Maryland and Virginia’s Phase Three goals to improve the bay’s health entail maintaining the agriculture practices from previous phases that will lead to reduced nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment in the bay.

Both sets of strategies, which were released on Friday, include both states’ goals to achieve these reductions by the year 2025. The documents also take into consideration the effects of climate change and address plans to offset those effects that will be sustainable beyond that year.

Restoration aims include pollution reduction targets for agriculture, natural lands, septic, stormwater and wastewater and also takes into account the challenge of future needs due to both population and livestock growth.

In Maryland, Phase Three plans entail meeting pollution reduction goals through tree planting and streamside forest buffers to prevent pollutants from getting into waterways. There are also oyster reef restoration efforts and plans in both states.

Virginia’s document details 56 initiatives to support ongoing reduction goals, as well as implementation plans for each of the Commonwealth’s five river basins — Potomac River, Eastern Shore, Rappahannock River, York River and James River — that drain into the bay.

The Commonwealth also plans to continue state and local efforts to help farmers with runoff reduction of excess nutrients and sediment as well as manure management practices.

In a statement, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation praised Maryland’s efforts to meet the federal bay clean-up goals, but expressed some concern that the plans may not be sustainable.

“Maryland must lead by example,” said Alison Prost, Maryland executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “In this case, that means helping farmers transition crop land to permanent pasture and working with them to plant streamside forest buffers to reduce agriculture pollution. In our cities and towns, we can no longer delay needed improvements to reduce polluted runoff generated from buildings, driveways, and roads. These long-term enhancements to our farms and neighborhoods will reduce pollution and begin to insulate Maryland against climate change.”

Read more about the third phase of Maryland’s Watershed Implementation Plan.

Josh Kurtz contributed to this report.

As part of Maryland Matters’ content sharing agreement with WTOP, we feature this article from Liz Anderson. Click here for the WTOP News website.

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Md., Va. Release More Plans to Protect the Chesapeake Bay