Overall, there has been a reduction in the volume of the annual Dead Zone and it is continuing to decline. Toxic algae growth has been reduced and water clarity is improving. The health of the Bay is still far from good, but the U.S. EPA sees improvement and feels that the Bay is just on the cusp of major progress in the health of the Chesapeake Bay.
We have now reached the mid-point in the pollution reduction plans for Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. All the states are being assessed in their progress toward meeting the nutrient and sediment pollutant load reductions mandated by the U.S. EPA. Using the Chesapeake Bay model, this midpoint assessment measures the states’ progress towards meeting the 2017 goal of having practices in place to achieve 60% of the pollution reductions from the 2009 levels.
The intent of the midpoint assessment is allow the states to make changes in their state programs and plans and develop the Phase III Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) that will allow them to meet the 2025 Chesapeake Bay restoration goals assigned to them by the U.S. EPA.
In Virginia, due to the significant reductions in agricultural runoff of nitrogen and phosphorus and waste water treatment plants improvements and upgrades we have exceeded our goals for 2017 in nitrogen and phosphorus reductions. However, we have failed to meet our sediment goals. As you can see below sediment released from agriculture and waste water treatment plants has been reduced while sediment released from stormwater management has increased.
Moving forward, U.S. EPA / the Chesapeake Bay Foundation recommend that Virginia target stormwater and agriculture for additional reductions to meet the 2025 goals. In Virginia they recommend increased funding to the Virginia Agriculture Cost Share program (VACS) and the Virginia Conservation Assistance Program (VCAP). These are cost-share programs that provide financial incentives for property owners to implement practices that reduce runoff of sediment and nutrient pollution on agricultural properties (VACS) and urban properties (VCAP).