Mid-Atlantic
via Wikimedia Commons

MD - Chesapeake Bay pollution levels down

The Chesapeake Bay Program announced that the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution entering the Chesapeake Bay in 2021 decreased from the previous assessment period.

Each year, the seven watershed jurisdictions—Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia—report the practices they have implemented to decrease the amount of pollution entering the Chesapeake Bay.

Water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries is heavily influenced by nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution delivered from the watershed and can vary year-to-year due to numerous factors including best management practices, land use, fertilizer and manure use, wastewater and septic discharges, and river flow.

Computer simulations show that between 2009—the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (Bay TMDL) baseline—and 2021:

  • Overall nitrogen decreased 14%, from 297.8 million pounds in 2009 to 257.53 million pounds in 2021, meeting 49% of the goal to reduce nitrogen by 2025.
  • Overall phosphorus decreased 14%, from 17.2 million pounds in 2009 to 14.7 million pounds in 2021, meeting 64% of the goal to reduce phosphorus by 2025.
  • Overall sediment decreased 4%, from 18.9 billion pounds in 2009 to 18.1 billion pounds in 2021, meeting 100% of the goal to reduce sediment by 2025.

Over the past year, it was determined that 77% of nitrogen reductions came from the agricultural sector. Declines in phosphorus and sediment pollution came primarily from the natural (forests, scrub and brush, stream beds and banks, wetlands and shorelines) and agricultural sectors. While historically, nitrogen and phosphorus reductions have come from the wastewater sector, in 2021, nitrogen and phosphorus entering the Bay actually increased in the wastewater sector, mainly due to permit violations at select Maryland wastewater facilities.

The seven watershed jurisdictions, in coordination with local governments, businesses, non-governmental organizations and individuals have installed pollution-reducing best management practices to lower the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment entering tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay.

Read more.