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District of Columbia Chesapeake Bay Program

Satellite photo of Chesapeake Bay

Program Description

EPA’s Bay Program - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Chesapeake Bay Program is a unique regional partnership that has led and directed the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries since 1983. The District has been a partner since its inception. Other Bay Program partners include the states of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia; the Chesapeake Bay Commission, a tri-state legislative body; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, representing the federal government; and participating citizen advisory groups. The District Department of the Environment is the DC agency responsible for carrying out program activities related to the Bay.

The District’s Bay Program - In addition to the federal Bay Program described above, DDOE operates and implements its own version of Bay protection. We do this by focusing primarily on our own Anacostia and Potomac Rivers, and Rock Creek – all of which drain into the Chesapeake Bay. By attending to our own waterways, we can best  control what the District discharges into the Bay, ultimately leading to a cleaner Bay.

Residents should know that the District’s Bay program is independent and separate from the EPA program, but both are complementary and connected. The primary way that the District helps to clean up the Bay, besides cleaning up our own rivers, involves implementing a carefully crafted Watershed Implementation Plan. In addition, the District is a signatory to the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, the latest year that all states and jurisdictions signed onto this pledge to accelerate their efforts to clean their own rivers and streams by 2025.  Leading up to this, the District crafted both Phase I of its Watershed Implementation Plan and then followed it with a Phase II WIP, or final Watershed Implementation Plan  (WIP). Together these documents outline how the District will carry out the requirements of the federally-issued TMDL, and how we will work with our local partners, and those federal agencies located within the District’s boundaries. While other Bay states have local governments and municipalities, the District does not. Instead, we elected to partner with such agencies as Department of Defense, US General Services Administration, the Smithsonian Institution, National Park Service, and many more, to find ways they can manage stormwater coming off of their District-based facilities/buildings. It’s a fact that federal partners make up one third (or about 30%) of the District footprint, so that controlling their polluted runoff will make a very big difference in cleaning our waterways – and the Chesapeake Bay.

USEPA Issues a Total Maximum Daily Load 

In 2010 the EPA issued a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed spanning six states (New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia) and the District of Columbia. The Bay TMDL is a 'pollution diet' or budget, that sets a maximum loading limit for Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Sediment that each jurisdiction can release to its waters which reach the Chesapeake Bay. A TMDL was issued because the goals of the previous (1985 and 2000) Chesapeake Bay Agreements aimed at cleaning up the Bay were not met according to the deadlines set in both  Agreements.

The District supports the EPA's goals contained in the Bay TMDL, and hopes that this TMDL tool will help curb pollution reaching the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers and Rock Creek from upstream jurisdictions. The District's Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) identifies details of actions explaining how DC will achieve and maintain the water quality benefits outlined in the Bay TMDL. The WIP also provides transparency and accountability throughout the Bay TMDL process, and promotes adaptive management along the way as we implement the Watershed Plan (WIP). See related links to view all the following documents.

Nutrient and Sediment Plans - Before the WIPS were developed, the District and other states relied upon a ‘Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Strategy’ dating back to 2000. Under this Plan, the signatories took steps in nutrient reduction by establishing revised nutrient goals based on the Bay’s water quality. This plan was replaced with the more current Watershed Implementation Plans.

For more information Contact: [email protected] | (202) 997-8379.