A skiff sits at anchor on the shore of Hollands Island, with a wintery sky overhead

New Bay cleanup plans on schedule despite federal shutdown

BY: Karl Blankenship

Despite a 35-day government shutdown that sidelined federal agency involvement, Chesapeake Bay restoration leaders say they are committed to maintaining the deadline to complete new cleanup plans.

Updates to state and local plans to support the Chesapeake Bay cleanup are still on schedule, despite the partial shutdown of the federal government. (Dave Harp)
Updates to state and local plans to support the Chesapeake Bay cleanup are still on schedule, despite the partial shutdown of the federal government. (Dave Harp)

Senior state and federal officials said at a meeting last week that they intend to complete draft watershed implementation plans and submit them to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for review by the original deadline of April 12.

 “I would say it would be premature right now to revise the Phase III WIP schedule,” said Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles, who chairs the Bay Program’s Principals’ Staff Committee.

While the closure caused some delays, such as the ability to share and analyze data related to plan development with federal officials, Grumbles said, it was important for states to “reiterate our strong commitment to staying on schedule as much as possible.”

The shutdown had raised concerns that it could delay development of the plans, an issue that even came up during the Senate confirmation hearing for Andrew Wheeler, now acting EPA administrator, to head the agency.

States are required to write updated plans showing how they will meet cleanup goals established in the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load, often called the Bay’s “pollution diet,” from now through the 2025 cleanup deadline.

The plans have to show what actions the states will take to achieve the needed nutrient and sediment pollution reductions to restore the Bay’s health, and demonstrate that states have adequate programs, staffing, regulations, funding and other support necessary to achieve the goals. The plan-writing process is also supposed to involve local leaders and include more localized pollution reduction planning targets.

While federal agency officials were not able to assist states during the shutdown, some technical assistance was available from universities and nongovernmental organizations assigned to the Bay Program Office.

Still, said Ann Swanson, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, which represents state legislatures, “there was a very obvious void when it came to data sharing and quick analysis as policy was being worked on. Everybody felt that, and everybody just felt sort of the coordination void that came with the loss of such significant partners.”

After the EPA reviews the draft WIPs, final plans are to be submitted by Aug. 9.

The Southern Maryland Chronicle is a local, small business entrusted to provide factual, unbiased reporting to the Southern Maryland Community. While we look to local businesses for advertising, we hope to keep that cost as low as possible in order to attract even the smallest of local businesses and help them get out to the public. We must also be able to pay employees(part-time and full-time), along with equipment, and website related things. We never want to make the Chronicle a “pay-wall” style news site.

To that end, we are looking to the community to offer donations. Whether it’s a one-time donation or you set up a reoccurring monthly donation. It is all appreciated. All donations at this time will be going to furthering the Chronicle through hiring individuals that have the same goals of providing fair, and unbiased news to the community. For now, donations will be going to a business PayPal account I have set-up for the Southern Maryland Chronicle, KDC Designs. All business transactions currently occur within this PayPal account. If you have any questions regarding this you can email me at davidhiggins@southernmarylandchronicle.com

Thank you for all of your support and I hope to continue bringing Southern Maryland the best news possible for a very long time. — David M. Higgins II




© 2019 The Southern Maryland Chronicle. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.