The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finally approved Chesapeake Bay water quality improvement plans developed by Virginia and five other states across the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
With that approval, a "pollution diet" has been established throughout the watershed that’s intended to restore clean water in the bay and in the rivers and streams that empty into it.
Formally known as the Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL, the pollution diet provides each state with specific amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment that will have to be kept out of the bay in order to clean it up.
In total, the plan calls for reducing nitrogen by 25 percent, to 185.9 million pounds bay-wide; phosphorus by 24 percent, to 12.5 million pounds; and sediment by 20 percent, to 6.45 billion pounds.
Virginia will eventually be limited to discharging no more than 53.662 million pounds of nitrogen, 5.357 million pounds of phosphorus, and 2.578 billion pounds of sediment per year into the Chesapeake Bay.