Like five neighboring states and the District of Columbia, Virginia is required to comply with the Chesapeake Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) regulation, established in December of 2010 by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US-EPA). It’s the largest TMDL ever. The TMDL requires reductions in three specific pollutants—nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment—creating limits required to meet water quality standards within the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal rivers. In particular, the TMDL sets limits on these pollutants, requiring a 25 percent reduction in nitrogen, 24 percent reduction in phosphorus and a 20 percent reduction in sediment. That’s 185.9M pounds of nitrogen, 12.5M pounds of phosphorus and 6.45B pounds of sediment.
Virginia state officials were surprised when the US-EPA withheld $1.2M in grant funds because the state was moving too slowly towards compliance. The TMDL was designed to ensure full compliance by 2025, and at reach no less than 60 percent compliance by 2017. The TMDL includes detailed accountability measures including two-year milestones, tracking and assessment and federal actions if jurisdictions fall short of their commitments.
Several Virginia communities within the TMDL region do not yet have required stormwater discharge permits. Additionally, permits now require specific provisions for nutrient reduction. The state plans to submit a draft stormwater permit for the City of Arlington to the EPA. Pending approval, that permit will then be used to help craft permits for ten other communities.
According to a statement from Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation spokesperson Gary Waugh Hampton Roads’ Daily Press, the state is on target for the September 20th target, adding “and we have already let the EPA know we don’t think there’ll be any problem at all with meeting that deadline.”