EPA recently told Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware and New York, which together account for more than 70 percent of the pollution that causes "dead zones" in the bay, that their plans contained "serious deficiencies" and said it could force them to make up the difference with expensive new measures.
Federal and state governments have been trying to fix these problems since 1983. They have spent more than $5 billion, but 27 years later, nitrogen has been cut by only about half the amount required. And a study showed phosphorus pollution going up, not down, in eight of nine major Chesapeake tributaries.
Last May, President Obama signed an executive order that shifted the EPA's role from collaborator to cop.
As of this month, states were required to submit plans for cutting pollution before 2025. When those plans came in, several states admitted that they were not sure how they would do it.
EPA noted that two plans - submitted by the District and Maryland - had "deficiencies," requiring minor corrections. But for the five states that take up the rest of the Chesapeake's 64,000-square-mile watershed, the agency found serious faults. The agency gave the states until Nov. 29 to fix these flaws. If they don't, it said, the result could be requirements that sewage plants be upgraded to remove more pollutants, or that urban areas could be forced to corral storm water with measures like "rain barrels," or grass buffers. Over the next 45 days, they will hold 18 public hearings on the Chesapeake in all six watershed states and the District. (Wash Post, 9/25/2010)