Regional Water Quality Principles
Upon the recommendation of the CBPC, the COG Board has endorsed four water quality principles to guide regional policy regarding the Bay restoration effort and other water quality goals. These principles, which were developed originally in 1997 and recently revised by the CBPC, include:
“Holistic Requirements – Programs and policies to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, whether regulatory or not, shall reflect a holistic, multi-sector analysis of environmental benefits and costs as well as technical feasibility, before being established.”
“Equitable Responsibility – Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries shall strive for equity and cost-effectiveness in allocating responsibilities among regions, counties and municipalities and among the different sources of pollution.”
“Sound Science –Programs and policies to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries shall rely on a sound scientific foundation and shall be revised as needed, reflecting advances in that foundation.”
“Communication and Voice - Programs and policies to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, whether regulatory or not, should be developed through a cooperative process among stakeholders including local governments and wastewater utilities. Given their implementation responsibilities, local governments and wastewater utilities shall be engaged at the earliest stages of these development processes.”
Why is Bay Policy Important to the Region
Bay water quality goals are the primary factor driving increasingly stringent effluent discharge standards for nitrogen and phosphorus in the permits of area wastewater treatment plants. The plants, run directly by local governments or by affiliated authorities, have used a mixture of their own funds and state and federal grants to pay the multi-billion-dollar cost of technology upgrades to meet the standards. The Bay water quality goals also are driving more stringent stormwater regulations imposed by the states and the federal government on local governments.
The Bay Program’s transition from a voluntary to a regulatory program will be capped by the implementation of a Total Maximum Daily Load, which is a Clean Water Act-authorized program under which a budget is established for all sources of pollution to an impaired water body. A TMDL with jurisdiction over the entire Bay watershed is expected to be completed by December 2011.