The Chesapeake Bay is the largest of more than 100 estuaries in the United States, with a 64,000-square-mile watershed that includes parts of six states – Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia – and all of the District of Columbia. The Bay is fed by various freshwater tributaries, the three largest of which are the Susquehanna, Potomac, and James Rivers; and the Bay’s watershed includes more than 100,000 streams, creeks and rivers.
The Bay has been described by many as a national treasure with great environmental, economic, and recreational value. The Potomac and Anacostia Rivers also have similar value in the COG region and are inextricably linked to the Bay’s waters. But various forms of pollution have taken a serious toll on water quality and aquatic life and has made the Bay’s restoration a regional priority.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the states in the Bay Watershed, along with many other partners, have worked for decades through the Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) to address the many challenges of restoring the Bay and its tributaries. A summary of those agreements and efforts can be found at www.chesapeakebay.net/chesapeakebaywatershedagreement/page.
In addition to the inherent environmental and economic worth of the Bay and its tributaries, these EPA and state activities are important because:
- Most of the COG region lies within the Bay watershed;
- The COG region represents approximately 30 percent% of the overall Bay population;
- The Potomac River is a major water resource and source of drinking water for the COG region; and
- The Bay Total Maximum Daily Load or TMDL (a pollution diet for the Bay and region’s waterways) TMDL and the associated Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) continue to be a primary driver for many of the permit requirements placed on the COG region’s wastewater treatment plants and stormwater management programs.
COG supports its members by tracking and analyzing: Chesapeake Bay Program activities such as modeling and water quality monitoring; EPA/state policy and regulatory decisions concerning implementation of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL; and updates made to the state WIPs. COG then assesses the implications of all of these efforts on the region’s wastewater treatment plants’ permits and stormwater management program’s municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) permits.
COG is also forum for member governments to learn more about these Chesapeake Bay Program activities, and to exchange information about their local programs to address both Chesapeake Bay and local water quality issues, including permit requirements, innovations, technical resources, and funding mechanisms. This is done via the Chesapeake Bay and Water Resources Policy Committee (CBPC), and the Water Resources Technical Committee (WRTC).