• Progress

    Computer simulations show that pollution controls put in place in the Chesapeake Bay watershed between 2009 and 2016 lowered nitrogen loads nine percent, phosphorus loads 20 percent and sediment loads nine percent. Experts attribute the drop in estimated nitrogen loads to technological upgrades at wastewater treatment plants, as well as to agricultural best management practices (BMPs). Agricultural BMPs have also contributed to the drop in estimated phosphorus and sediment loads, but increased phosphorus and sediment pollution from urban development has offset or reduced the overall benefits these practices have engendered.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established pollution reduction targets for the year 2025 as part of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (Bay TMDL). While the Bay TMDL also included pollution reduction targets for the year 2017, the seven watershed jurisdictions defined their pollution reducing commitments in the form of 2017 Milestones. Estimated pollution loads, milestones and targets are summarized in the table below and available for download.


    Pollution-reducing practices are in place to achieve 33 percent of the nitrogen reductions, 81 percent of the phosphorus reductions and 57 percent of the sediment reductions necessary to attain applicable water quality standards as compared to 2009, the year before the EPA established the Bay TMDL.

    Jurisdictions describe the steps they will take to reduce pollution and achieve the Bay TMDL allocations in their respective Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs). Jurisdictions developed and submitted Phase I and Phase II WIPs in 2010 and 2012, respectively. Jurisdictions continue to establish short-term pollution reducing goals in the form of two-year milestones and will develop and submit Phase III WIPs in 2018.

    Resource availability, location and other factors can influence a jurisdiction’s decision and ability to implement certain practices in certain sectors. A full listing of the practices to which each jurisdiction has committed is available for download. Programmatic milestones are maintained on the websites of each jurisdiction: Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

    The Chesapeake Bay Program’s pollution load estimates were generated using the Watershed Model (Phase 5.3.2) and wastewater discharge data reported by jurisdictions and calibrated using monitoring data. In addition, the state of Maryland uses a Chesapeake Bay Program-approved Supplemental Wastewater Indicator to track its progress toward wastewater planning targets. More information about nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment loads at the river segment level is available through the TMDL Tracker. The Chesapeake Bay Program also uses BMP Expert Panels to estimate best management practice effectiveness and water quality monitoring data to report the partnership’s progress in attaining water quality standards and examine trends in reducing nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment in the watershed.

  • Management Strategy

    Participating partners have described the steps they will take to achieve the 2017 and 2025 Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) outcomes in their individual WIPs. To track the achievement of these outcomes, partners have committed to:

    • Collecting, verifying and reporting best management practice data;
    • Evaluating the effectiveness of pollution controls;
    • Enhancing water quality monitoring efforts;
    • Conducting a 2017 Midpoint Assessment; and
    • Adhering to the TMDL Accountability Framework.

    Monitoring and assessing progress toward the outcome will occur through the 2017 Midpoint Assessment (which will review our progress, enhance our modeling tools and address emerging issues like climate change) and the TMDL Accountability Framework (which will help provide confidence that the necessary pollution reductions will occur).

    As part of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s partnership-wide implementation of adaptive management, progress toward this outcome will be reviewed and discussed by the Management Board in May of 2017.

  • Work Plan
    Chesapeake Bay Program partners have committed to taking specific actions over the course of 2016 and 2017 to achieve the high-level approaches identified in the management strategy above.
  • Participating Partners

    The Water Quality Goal Implementation Team leads the effort to achieve this outcome. It works in partnership with the Vital Habitats Goal Implementation Team and the Scientific, Technical Assessment and Reporting Team.

    Participating partners include:

    • State of Delaware
    • State of Maryland
    • State of New York
    • Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
    • Commonwealth of Virginia
    • State of West Virginia
    • District of Columbia
    • Chesapeake Bay Commission
    • Natural Resources Conservation Service (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
    • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
    • U.S. Department of Defense
    • U.S. Department of Homeland Security
    • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    • U.S. Geological Survey