ANNAPOLIS, Md., June 16, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Tom Corbett today joined executives from Delaware, Maryland, New York, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to sign the latest iteration of the Chesapeake Bay Agreement.
"This agreement is a sensible way to approach improving both the water quality and the environment of a region that means so much to all of us," Corbett said. "I applaud the cooperative efforts of all bay watershed entities that have made this historic agreement possible."
The signing took place at the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council Meeting, an annual gathering that promotes cooperative partnership between the states in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
Goals in the agreement address the following: sustainable fisheries, vital habitats, water quality, toxic contaminants, healthy watersheds, stewardship, land conservation, public access, environmental literacy and resiliency of the bay ecosystem.
Since 1985, Pennsylvania has directed more than $3.9 billion by way of grants, loans and program investments toward Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts and has continued to see a downward trend for all three pollutants of concern: phosphorous, nitrogen and sediment. Since 1985, Pennsylvania has reduced phosphorous loadings by 25 percent, nitrogen by 10 percent and sediment by 15 percent, while experiencing significant growth in the Chesapeake Basin.
The Pennsylvania departments of Environmental Protection (DEP), Agriculture (PDA), State Conservation Commission and individual county conservation districts have worked together the last three decades to successfully reduce nutrient and sediment loading into the bay watershed. Since July 2011, local conservation districts have conducted more than 12,000 farm visits to help farmers identify BMPs best-suited for their properties.
"Pennsylvania's commitment to the bay watershed is evidenced by the significant amount of financial and technical resources allocated to this issue over the past 30 years," DEP Secretary E. Christopher Abruzzo said. "The new bay agreement renews our responsibility to protecting this vital water resource."
DEP efforts include updating nitrogen and phosphorous limits in permits for wastewater treatment plants, issuing municipal stormwater system permits with nutrient planning requirements, and fostering a successful nutrient credit trading program that incentivizes best management practices.
Since 1985, farms in Pennsylvania have reduced nitrogen pollution by over 13 million pounds per year. Nineteen percent of all nitrogen reductions made in restoring the Chesapeake Bay have been made by Pennsylvania's agriculture community. Farmers have also spent nearly $15 million for BMP installation and equipment, including no-till planters and drills.
"Pennsylvania's farmers know firsthand how best management practices improve their operations and the environment," said PDA Secretary George Greig. "They reduce input costs, increase crop yields and improve local waterways, which in turn ensure a healthier Chesapeake Bay."
This is the fourth agreement over the program's 30 year history. The first Chesapeake Bay Agreement was signed in 1983 by Governor Thornburgh. Governor Casey signed the second agreement in 1987, and Governor Ridge signed the third agreement in 2000.
The current members of the Chesapeake Executive Council include the signatories to the 2000 Chesapeake Bay Agreement: the Governors of Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland, the Mayor of Washington, D.C., the Chair of the Chesapeake Bay Commission and the Administrator of the EPA. With this new agreement, the "headwater" states of New York, Delaware and West Virginia were added as signatories.
For more information, or to view the milestones visit www.dep.state.pa.us, keyword "Chesapeake Bay Program," or call 717-772-4785.
Valerie Caras, Governor's Office, 717-783-1116
Amanda Witman, DEP, 717-787-1323
Samantha Elliott Krepps, PDA, 717-787-5085
SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor