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Track PA's Progress

photo of sun setting over Chesapeake Bay

In 2010, EPA established a Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL, to address chlorophyll-A, dissolved oxygen and clarity impairments within the bay. A TMDL is a regulatory term in the U.S. Clean Water Act, describing a value of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a body of water can receive while still meeting water quality standards.

Pennsylvania's progress in meeting the TMDL goals is tracked through the development of two-year milestones (currently 2013-2015), which estimate the expected level of implementation of BMPs and expected programmatic improvements to occur over the milestone period. A TMDL Mid-point Assessment will be made in 2017. EPA expects that this assessment will show that 60 percent of load reductions needed to reach the TMDL will have been put in place.

According to EPA, Pennsylvania has committed to reduce its urban/suburban stormwater load for nitrogen by 41 percent, phosphorus by 45 percent and sediment by 50 percent by 2025. For this sector to date, Pennsylvania has reduced nitrogen loads by 1 percent, phosphorus loads by 10 percent and sediment loads by less than 1 percent.

Failure to meet milestone implementation targets has triggered backstop actions by EPA for Pennsylvania's agriculture and urban runoff sectors. EPA's backstop measures could include expansion of point source permitting, permit application objections, re-direction or conditioning of federal grants, increased EPA enforcement, among other possible measures. Table 1 below illustrates the current status of our modeled loads and targets, and indicates that Pennsylvania will likely not meet 2015 and 2017 reduction targets.

TMDL and Milestones

Pennsylvania's BMP Verification Program

The Chesapeake Bay Program has called for increased transparency and scientific rigor in the verification of the best management practices that are implemented as part of the states' Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) and the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).

To respond to this request, Strengthening Verification of Best Management Practices Implemented in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed: A Basinwide Framework, Report and Documentation from the Chesapeake Bay Program Water Quality Goal Implementation Team's BMP Verification Committee (Verification Framework) (Chesapeake Bay Program 2014), was developed. The Verification Framework is intended to serve as a guide for the states to document the methodology for verification of BMP installation, function, and continued effectiveness of practices over time. This Verification Framework provides the requirements for reporting and documentation of practice verification for the states to follow. Specific guidance is provided for each of the source sectors (agriculture, forestry, urban stormwater, wastewater, wetlands, and streams).