Governor Martin O'Malley today at the Chesapeake Executive Council Meeting announced that Maryland met its 2009-2011 milestones to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay. As part of our Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP), the State is on track to achieve the next two-year milestone goals and Maryland's 2017 interim target. In 2008, in order to accelerate restoration and improve public accountability, the Executive Council directed the partnership to begin tracking their process through short, two-year targets starting with the years 2009-2011.
Maryland tracks its progress in meeting these two-year milestones through Governor O'Malley's BayStat process. BayStat allows Maryland to not only track progress but to make the necessary changes to restoration practices to ensure achievement of overall pollution diet goals.
Maryland has been able to meet these goals even while accounting for expected growth during the milestone period.
"There are some challenges so large that we can only tackle them together. Restoring the Bay is one of them. And all of us are here today because we understand that the choices we make together for our Bay matter for our health, our environment, our quality of life, our economy and for future generations," said Governor O'Malley. "We have worked closely with our local partners to create and carry out a Watershed Implementation Plan that works for each individual community, and do it in an open and transparent way. Thanks to our hard work together, we have achieved our 2009-2011 milestones, and we're on track to meet our 2012-2013 milestones."
Maryland planted a record number of cover crops -- 429,818 acres of cover crops, preventing an estimated 2.58 million pounds of nitrogen, and 86,000 pounds of phosphorus from potentially impacting the Bay and its tributaries. In 2009-2011 milestones, the State met 123 percent of its cover crop goal.
Working with partners at the county and municipal level, Maryland has worked to prevent more than 1.5 million pounds of nitrogen from entering the Bay and local waterways each year, to upgrade 25 of the State's largest wastewater treatment plants, with another 16 upgrades scheduled to be completed by the end of next year. In our 2009-2011 milestones, we met 165 percent of the wastewater nitrogen reduction goals.
To address stormwater pollution, the State is using state-of-the-art environmental site design on new development and retrofitting old development that did not have stormwater controls, and are preventing more than 106,000 pounds of nitrogen from entering the Chesapeake Bay. In the 2009-2011 milestones, Maryland met 88 percent of its goals.
By implementing the Healthy Air Act, which is the toughest power plant emission law on the East Coast, Maryland is preventing more than 331,000 pounds of nitrogen from entering the Bay each year. In the 2009-2011 milestones, the state met 100 percent of its goals.
To naturally remove the nutrients from the land and stabilize wildlife habitats, Maryland planted 895 acres of forest buffers, meeting 166 percent of the 2009-2011 milestone goals.
Achieving the Next Milestone Goals
Maryland's water quality was a big winner in the 2012 General Assembly session with legislation that will help the State achieve its pollution diet goals by encouraging sustainable communities and addressing the two fastest growing sources of nutrient pollution to the Bay -- urban stormwater and septic system pollution.
"Thanks to the leadership of Governor O'Malley and the Maryland General Assembly, legislation passed this year will help us to protect, restore and support healthy waterways and drinking water while preserving farm and forest land, all of which will benefit Maryland families with clean water for years to come," said Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Robert M. Summers. "Clean water is the foundation of public health, economic health and Marylander's quality of life for the future."
On the Right Track
The legislation doubling the Bay Restoration Fund fee will generate the revenue needed to fully implement Maryland's wastewater treatment plant upgrades by 2017.
Stormwater pollution from urban and suburban communities is the source of roughly one-fifth of the nitrogen and phosphorus polluting the Chesapeake Bay. The General Assembly passed a measure requiring the largest jurisdictions to implement a stormwater utility fee to provide the funding needed to reduce stormwater pollution.
The Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012 requires jurisdictions to develop land-use plans that will encourage growth in existing communities and preserve large tracts of agricultural and forest land in Maryland.
The Governor's budget through the Chesapeake and Atlantic Bays Trust fund includes $63 million, with $38 million going directly to local governments for stormwater infrastructure projects and increased support for agricultural technical assistance.
Maryland proposed a regulation this spring to require nitrogen-reducing technology on all septic systems serving new construction on land draining to the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays or in other areas where waterways are impaired by nitrogen.
Maryland also proposed nutrient management regulations, developed after discussions with stakeholders that balance scientific understanding of nutrient dynamics with the realities of farm management to significantly advance agricultural water quality management and protect and restore the local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay.
Governor O'Malley's SFY 13 budget allocates more than $500 million to prevent pollution from point and non-point sources from harming the Chesapeake Bay.
Maryland is on track to meet the next set of milestones for 2012-2011, and the benefits are reflected in both water quality and fisheries data. Thanks to partnerships with Virginia, the Chesapeake Bay juvenile blue crab population in 2012 is at the highest level on record and the overall population is at its highest since 1993.
The Executive Council, which establishes the policy direction for the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay and its living resources, includes the Governors of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Mayor of the District of Columbia and the chair of the Chesapeake Bay Commission.