Federal regulators have given a thumbs-up to Maryland's plan for helping restore the ailing Chesapeake Bay, but say state officials still need to follow through with measures to reduce polluted urban and suburban runoff.
Shawn M. Garvin, mid-Atlantic regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, said Thursday that nearly all the six bay watershed states and the District of Columbia have spelled out better how they intend to comply with the baywide "pollution diet" EPA imposed in December 2010.
But in a telephone briefing for reporters, Garvin said a review of the states' latest pollution reduction plans indicates some states still have work to do - and New York has yet to even submit a plan for the agency to assess.
"All in all I think we’re continuing to stay on track," Garvin said, toward the states having most of the needed cleanup measures in place by 2017, with the rest due by 2025.
The agency released letters sent to each state and the District evaluating their bay plans. Garvin wrote that Maryland had made "commendable" progress this year by enacting legislation raising needed revenues for upgrading sewage treatment plants, reducing storm-water pollution and limiting development relying on septic systems.
The state also has begun to order its largest communities to reduce polluted storm runoff from streets and lawns, the EPA official noted, but noted that the state must follow through on that effort.
Though Garvin said all states have fleshed out their plans - West Virginia's was perhaps most improved, he remarked - EPA has lingering concerns about how Pennsylvania and Virginia will curb polluted storm-water runoff from cities and suburbs.
New York, though, has yet to submit its latest cleanup plan, which was due months ago. Local and state officials there, far from the bay, have loudly complained about the costs and need for upgrading sewage plants and imposing other control measures. Garvin said federal regulators have been working with New York officials and expect to see a plan soon.
"If they don’t get something to us in the very near fvuture or it’s not sufficient we’ll have to consider what federal actions have to happen," he said. EPA has warned it could block permits for new or expanded industry or developments, among other things, if states don't propose adequate cleanup measures.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation issued a statement saying it shares EPA's concerns about how states will get local governments leery of the costs of more cleanup to do what's needed.
"We all contribute pollution to local rivers, streams and the Chesapeake Bay, and all must do their part," said CBF Vice President Kim Coble.