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Established Programs Should Be Core Focus in Bay Cleanup

7/13/2013 7:00 AM
By Chesapeake Bay Foundation

The federal Clean Water Act requires all states in the 64,000 square-mile Chesapeake Bay watershed to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution to meet clean water goals.

To meet these goals, Pennsylvania and the other bay states developed Watershed Implementation Plans. Taken together, pollution limits and state plans are a road map, or blueprint, for achieving clean water.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and partners reference the overall effort as “The Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint.”

Pollution into our local streams and the bay comes from contaminated runoff from agricultural, urban and suburban areas, roads, construction sites, discharge from industrial and sewage treatment plants, septic systems, and even air pollution.

We are seeing quantifiable reductions in pollution as a result of the Clean Water Blueprint efforts. But with roughly 19,000 miles of Pennsylvania’s streams considered “impaired,” there’s much more to be done.

Maintaining the momentum is essential if we are to achieve our clean water goals and bring our streams and the bay back to health and economic vitality.

Technology can play a vital role in helping us get there. In doing so, CBF fully encourages the continued advancement of existing technologies along with the development of new technologies that may help Pennsylvania meet our clean water goals.

CBF does not, however, endorse any one specific technology, nor do we endorse any specific corporations. We do not endorse Bion Environmental Technologies Inc., its partners or the Coalition for an Affordable Bay Solution.

While CBF supports competition in the process for reducing nutrient pollution to help lower the costs for meeting Pennsylvania’s Clean Water Blueprint, the fact that some nutrient reduction approaches are too costly and economically uncompetitive does not mean that a competitive bidding process is currently nonexistent.

In fact, since 2006, Pennsylvania has had a market-based program to provide incentives for entities to create nutrient reduction credits by going beyond statutory, regulatory or voluntary obligations and goals to remove nutrients from a watershed.

And beginning in 2010, Pennvest has held quarterly nutrient credits auctions. As of March, DEP has certified more than 5.1 million pounds of nitrogen credits and nearly 390,000 pounds of phosphorus credits.

Given limited resources and thousands of Pennsylvania impaired streams, we believe that emphasis on established clean water programs and pollution reduction practices that provide ancillary benefits like reduced flooding, drinking water protection and improvement, improved herd health, and community revitalization must be the commonwealth’s core focus.

The place for new technologies and approaches is best left to the private sector to develop and finance.


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