Region Forward Blog

The costs of putting the Chesapeake Bay on a pollution diet

Jul 7, 2011
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TDML. Come again? Huh? Another acronym? We last mentioned TDML back in November 2010 so you’re forgiven if you’ve forgotten what it means. TDML stands for “Total Daily Maximum Load” and in layman’s terms that translates into “a pollution limit for bodies of water.” The EPA is working with local officials to put these limits in place for the Chesapeake Bay the largest estuary in the country.

The Chesapeake Bay Journal recently focused on the proposed Chesapeake Bay TDML specifically on a debate over the economic impact of implementing the pollution limits for jurisdictions in the region. Several local officials are concerned that the proposal is unrealistic and that costs will be astronomical whereas others think the cleanup effort will be economically beneficial by creating more jobs while having a positive environmental impact.

The Journal article notes that during a recent forum organized by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) local and federal officials expressed their opinions on the issue:

“Many acknowledge that the Bay cleanup will also mean improvements to their local streams – where progress has lagged – and could help bolster the economy by creating new jobs. Still cash-strapped local governments are having sticker shock over initial cost estimates.

EPA officials have been hearing a lot of that as they meet with local leaders across the watershed. ‘The costs come up every time’ acknowledged Jeff Corbin senior adviser for the Bay to the EPA administrator. ‘The costs are tremendous but what do we do?’

More than a quarter century after states and the federal government formed the Bay Program to restore the Chesapeake the estuary’s water quality remains poor as too many nutrients and too much sediment pour into it each year. The result is murky water algae blooms and large areas with too little oxygen to support aquatic life.”

In addition to a target aimed at significantly improving the health and quality of the Bay Region Forward includes a number of other targets that note the impact that achieving them would have on the Chesapeake Bay. Furthermore almost everything proposed in RF from increasing bike and transit usage to providing more housing in activity centers will have a positive effect on the health of the Bay.

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