EPA Approves Pollution Budget for Maryland - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

EPA Approves Pollution Budget for Maryland

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PHILADELPHIA –  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved the pollution budget developed by Maryland to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus in Maryland’s coastal bays and tributaries to levels that meet water quality standards.

The budget calls for pollution reductions in the coastal bays of up to 35 percent for nitrogen and up to 18 percent for phosphorus. Higher reductions are required in some of the bays tributaries.

The limits, designed to improve conditions for aquatic life and shellfish harvesting, are contained in a series of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) submitted for EPA approval by the Maryland Department of the Environment. A TMDL is the calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a body of water can receive and still meet state water quality standards.

The TMDLs include Assawoman Bay, Isle of Wight Bay, Sinepuxent Bay, Newport Bay and Chincoteague Bay in the Coastal Bays watershed in Worcester County, Maryland. The bays are listed as impaired by nitrogen and phosphorus on Maryland’s list of impaired waters.

“The State of Maryland is showing real environmental leadership in restoring its coastal waters,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “Creating a solid plan of action opens the door to better water quality for aquatic life and shellfish harvesting.”

"The Maryland Department of the Environment appreciates the support of Worcester County and our other partners in the Maryland Coastal Bays Program and the members of the Coastal Bays Implementation Committee," said MDE Secretary Robert M. Summers. "Putting this blueprint to reduce pollution into place will continue to allow future generations of Marylanders to enjoy fishing, swimming and recreating in the waters of one of the State's greatest natural treasures."

The nitrogen and phosphorus pollution reductions are intended to control algae growth and increase dissolved oxygen levels. Excessive amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus create algae blooms, which block sunlight from reaching and sustaining underwater grasses, and deprive aquatic life, such as fish, crabs and oysters, of needed oxygen.

The Maryland Coastal Bays are a shallow coastal lagoon system on the eastern side of the Delmarva Peninsula spanning three states, primarily Maryland. The TMDLs also assign Delaware and Virginia upstream aggregate allocations for nitrogen and phosphorus.

The nitrogen and phosphorus in the Coastal Bays comes from non-point sources, such as agriculture and urban runoff; septic systems; air deposition; shoreline erosion; as well as wastewater treatment plants and other point sources.

The TMDLs make the Coastal Bays eligible for possible new restoration funding including Maryland’s Agriculture Cost Share Program and Environmental Quality Incentives Program, EPA’s non-point source program, and others.

The data that was used in developing the TMDLs was collected from 45 monitoring stations operated by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. National Park System-Assateague Island National Seashore.

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