Climate Change, Conowingo Prompt Increased Ask for Bay

Increased Pressure on Bay Prompts Request for More Funding
More federal funding required to address increased pollution from climate change and
the Conowingo dam

(Washington, DC) – Today, more than 100 members of the Choose Clean Water Coalition met with their members of Congress to discuss increased support for the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort. The Coalition, made up of more than 230 nonprofit organizations across the Chesapeake Bay watershed, is requesting that Congress increase funding for the Chesapeake Bay, specifically $90 million for the Environmental Protection Agency Chesapeake Bay Program, up from $73 million.

Over the past two years, both of the president’s proposed budgets have called for a reduction or elimination of funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program. Both times, the Coalition, in partnership with members of the Chesapeake watershed delegation in Congress, have worked to successfully restore funding, as it results in millions of dollars in support for projects that are improving communities and protecting local waterways in every state in the region and the District of Columbia.

“For the past two years, our Coalition has focused on restoring the critical $73 million in funding for the Chesapeake, which was eliminated in the president’s budget for 2018 and cut by 90 percent in 2019,” said Chanté Coleman, director of the Choose Clean Water Coalition. “With the leadership of our strong Chesapeake congressional delegation, we have successfully protected this funding, but now we have to focus on what the Chesapeake cleanup needs to get over the finish line knowing that we face new and growing challenges.”

When the Chesapeake Bay Blueprint was created in 2010, it was estimated that the Conowingo Dam would trap pollution through 2025. However, last year, new research determined that the reservoir behind the dam was actually full, and as a result more pollution was entering the Chesapeake Bay than had been originially accounted for. Now it is estimated that the Chesapeake Bay cleanup will need to reduce an additional 6 million pounds of nitrogen every year to mitigate water quality impacts from Conowingo. Also, the Chesapeake Bay region saw record amounts of rainfall this past year, resulting in increased flooding and runoff into local streams. These major rainfall events are only expected to increase with climate change, which will require on-the-ground pollution and flood reducing projects to adapt to new pressures.

“This is a critical investment in clean water, targeted directly at improving water quality in local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay. The majority of the Chesapeake Bay Program budget goes directly toward matching public and private investments in reducing pollution. The Bay Program is the glue that holds the state/federal partnership together. And it’s working. Over time, the dead zone is getting smaller, Bay grasses are increasing, and local economies are improving. But the Bay is far from saved,” said Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William C. Baker. “State and federal efforts must be accelerated. This additional funding is critical to finishing the job.”

In addition to increased funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program, the Coalition is also asking congress for a 50 percent increase in funding for the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Trails Program and to fully fund the 2018 Farm Bill’s conservation programs to ensure responsible farms in the Chesapeake region remain economically viable.  The Coalition is also requesting that Congress not ignore clean water issues when they put together a Federal Infrastructure Spending Package. The Coalition recommends tripling the funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to $5 billion to be included in such an Infrastructure Package. This Fund provides low interest loans for sewage treatment and stormwater control upgrades and retrofits for local governments and ratepayers in every state.
                                   

CHESAPEAKE BAY PROGRAM GRANTS – BY STATE (FY2018)

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 The Choose Clean Water Coalition, an organization that harnesses the collective power of more than 230 local, state, regional and national groups to advocate for clean rivers and streams in all communities in the Chesapeake region.

 

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