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EPA Says Chesapeake Bay Has Made Positive Changes

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Chesapeake Bay
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Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — After promising consequences if states in the Chesapeake watershed don’t do more to clean up the bay, the federal Environmental Protection Agency says some positive results are turning up.

Alex DeMetrick reports Maryland is more than holding its own.

A bay not just clean enough to swim in but clean enough to support a variety of life is what half a dozen states in the Chesapeake watershed have pledged to do—and the feds are holding them to it.

“EPA has put in place an accountability tool,” said Kim Coble, Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

“The governor was very pleased to announce that we’re essentially there.  We’re about 98 percent to reaching our goal,” said DNR Secretary John Griffith.

The goal was to reduce nitrogen that feeds algae blooms that, in turn, triggers dead zones.  Fertilizer used in farming is a major source of nitrogen so a record 400,000 acres in cover crops were planted in Maryland to absorb that access fertilizer.  Sewage treatment plants, another nitrogen producer, continue to be upgraded.  The end result is that Maryland reduced nitrogen pollution by four million pounds.

“The public needs to know as we move each increment up, it’s a tougher challenge,” Griffith said.

“Addressing stormwater from urban areas, this is the one area that continues to increase,” Coble said.

Rain carries nitrogen that settles on land from air pollution and leaks from septic systems which carry it to waterways and the bay.  To slow it, states will need federal money, as well as pressure.

The price tag for a restored bay by the year 2025 is something of a moving target, but it will easily cost in the tens of billions of dollars.

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