Coalition Statement on the Final Bay Cleanup Plans

Statement from Kristin Reilly, director of the Choose Clean Water Coalition, on the Final Watershed Implementation Plans

(Oxon Hill, Maryland) – Today marks the annual meeting of the Chesapeake Executive Council, where leaders from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, New York and the District of Columbia will meet to discuss the state of the bay restoration effort. This year’s meeting is particularly crucial, as the seven jurisdictions in the Chesapeake Bay watershed have just released their final plans for restoring and protecting their local rivers and streams.

The Choose Clean Water Coalition, an organization made up of more than 240 nonprofit organizations across the Chesapeake Bay watershed, has been tracking the development of the cleanup plans for the past nine years and has been pushing for strong and ambitious plans to address both local water pollution and its downstream impact to the Chesapeake Bay. While some jurisdictions’ final plans lay out a strong path forward, many are lacking in outlining specific actions and funding sources for their proposed work.

In response, the Choose Clean Water Coalition is releasing this statement from Kristin Reilly, director of the Choose Clean Water Coalition.

“For the last nine years, the Coalition and our more than 240 member organizations across the watershed have been working with the seven bay jurisdictions to develop ambitious but achievable goals and cleanup plans,” said Reilly. “All of this work has brought us to this moment, where we are seeing great progress towards a clean bay, but the shortfalls we’re hearing about today puts that vision just beyond our grasp”.

“While Pennsylvania’s plan does lay out projects and programs to reduce pollution, it falls short of reaching their goals and does not address the more than $320 million funding gap for the work currently outlined in their plan.” said Reilly. “As we have heard in recent weeks, officials in Pennsylvania do not think the state receives the same economic benefits that states like Maryland and Virginia do from participating in the cleanup,” said Reilly. “However, these officials are ignoring the thousands of miles of rivers and streams that residents of the Susquehanna watershed use for fishing, boating, kayaking, swimming and drinking water; all of which generate economic benefits and require clean water.”

“While Maryland’s plan outlines many great things they are currently doing, we are concerned that the plan is not thinking about the future, and is missing critical components especially as it relates to accounting for population growth and climate change,” said Reilly. “There is little information on how the state will incorporate these important factors into their plan, which has become increasingly important as we face more frequent severe weather events.”

“We commend Virginia for releasing a cleanup plan that is both robust and ambitious, however the Commonwealth currently lacks funding for all of these programs and improvements,” said Reilly. “We look forward to working with our members in Virginia to push forward consistent funding sources that will provide increased capacity for stormwater, agricultural and wastewater projects that will reduce pollution across the Commonwealth.”

“The Choose Clean Water Coalition expects that, as the lead of the restoration effort, the Environmental Protection Agency will work with Pennsylvania to develop a strong final plan that meets its water quality goals and will hold all the jurisdictions accountable to their commitments.”