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Federal Mandates to Clean Up the Chesapeake Bay
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is mandating localities in six states and the District of Columbia to go on a "pollution diet" in order to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay. In order to comply, the City will be doing its part to cut back on excessive nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment - three major pollutants in our waterways - through a variety of measures.
When talking about this "pollution diet", you may come across some terms you're not familiar with. Here are a few simplified definitions of the main terms related to the topic:
- Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) - the amount of pollutants a body of water can handle while still able to support beneficial uses (aquatic life, fishing, drinking water, recreation, etc.); also used as a term
- Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) - a plan that clearly states how an area will reduce pollutants in its watershed and meet TMDL goals
- Nonpoint Source Runoff - runoff that cannot be directly traced to a specific origin but comes from a variety of areas, such as farms, roads, construction sites and yards - the opposite of point source runoff which comes from an easily identified source
On February 1, in support of Virginia's Phase II WIP development, the City of Chesapeake submitted a Supporting Data and Preferred Strategies document to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) which contains updated background information about Chesapeake. The document also outlined what steps we are already taking and plan to take to reduce pollutants, specifically nonpoint source runoff. The Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC) also submitted a regional Planning Framework, Scenario and Strategies document in support of the state WIP. In January, the City Council was briefed on Chesapeake's local strategies.
What This Means to You
Chesapeake already has a variety of programs in place to reduce pollution and has for over 20 years. The City plans to continue and enhance successful existing programs, as well as identify additional, cost-effective opportunities to reduce pollution from stormwater runoff.
Here are just a few pollution prevention actions the City will continue or may implement in response to the EPA-required pollution diet:
- Street sweeping
- Shoreline restoration projects on City properties
- Removal of sediment through ditch cleaning, pipe cleaning, yard waste pickup, etc.
- Focus on water quality capital projects
- Look for opportunities to enhance or "retrofit" existing water quality structures
- Tree planting
- Nutrient Management or elimination of fertilizer for City properties
- Continuing and enhancing our stormwater education program
- Support and partner with local environmental groups
How You Can Help
Nonpoint source runoff comes from both City and private property so it's critical for everyone to do their part to prevent pollution. Just by taking a few small, simple steps, you can make a great impact on the health of our waterways and maybe even save some money in the process. Consider going on a pollution diet!