• Progress

    Computer simulations show that pollution controls put in place in the Chesapeake Bay watershed between 2009 and 2015 lowered nitrogen loads eight percent, phosphorus loads 20 percent and sediment loads seven percent. Between 2014 and 2015, these controls lowered nitrogen loads three percent, phosphorus loads three percent and sediment loads four percent. Experts attribute this drop in estimated pollution loads to a number of factors, including the increased implementation of agricultural conservation practices; a drop in the atmospheric deposition of nitrogen; and significant reductions of nitrogen and phosphorus in the wastewater sector. Indeed, for the first time—and ten years ahead of schedule—the Chesapeake Bay Program partnership as a whole has met its 2025 pollution reduction targets for the wastewater sector.

    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 31 percent of the nitrogen reductions, 81 percent of the phosphorus reductions and 48 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. 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 water quality monitoring data to report the partnership’s progress in attaining water quality standards and to 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).

  • 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