- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 18, 2001

RICHMOND (AP) — New York and Delaware have joined the Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort and will be part of a new plan to adopt tough, new water quality standards to improve living conditions for crabs, oysters, rockfish and other key species.
The new targets are more ambitious, and costlier, than a cleanup goal that Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania fell short of reaching last year.
The new plan also will expand the cleanup across the entire 64,000-square-mile Bay watershed, if West Virginia agrees to join in the effort.
The governors of New York and Delaware recently signed a memorandum of understanding to join the pollution fight.
West Virginia "is in the loop" but has not yet signed the memorandum, said Rich Batiuk, associate director of science for the Environmental Protection Agency's Chesapeake Bay Program.
The EPA has been working with Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and the District since 1983 to restore the Bay after a federal study confirmed it was being killed by too many nutrients from fertilizers, animal waste and inadequately treated sewage.
The partners pledged 14 years ago to cut nutrient pollution by 40 percent by last year. They reached the goal for one of the nutrients, phosphorous, but not for the other, nitrogen.
The new goals aim to remove the Bay from the federal government's list of impaired waters by 2010, thereby lifting the threat that the federal government would step in and tell the states what to do.
"We will restore the Bay," Diane Esher, acting director of the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program, said Thursday.
"We know this is a monumental task."
Proponents said they need help from New York, Delaware and West Virginia.
They said the expanded cleanup should also attract more federal money to restore the Bay and its 111,000 miles of creeks, streams and rivers.
Virginia had estimated that it would cost almost $650 million to improve the Potomac, Rappahannock, James and York rivers as well as the Bay side of the Eastern Shore, said Bill Hayden, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Quality.
The new Bay plan undoubtedly will increase those costs, said Alan Pollock, a DEQ water quality specialist. He said his department fully supports the new approach. Gov. James S. Gilmore III and his Bay partner counterparts pledged last year to get the Bay and its tributaries off the federal government's impaired waters list.
Officials estimated the overall cost of the new cleanup effort could range from hundreds of millions of dollars to several billion.
Virginia has spent $127 million to improve sewage treatment and make farming and development more environment friendly to Virginia's tidal rivers since the General Assembly created a water quality improvement fund in 1997, Mr. Hayden said.
Under the new cleanup plan, the Bay and its tidal rivers will be split so that different water quality criteria will apply depending on aquatic life.
Goals will be set for water clarity, dissolved oxygen and chlorophyll content.
The old cleanup plan had only one criterion: dissolved oxygen.
Mr. Batiuk said the states will begin calculations this winter to determine how much pollution is allowable in each river and the Bay.


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