Agricultural TMDL/WIP Summary

Agricultural TMDL/WIP Summary

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​Phase II Watershed Implementation Plan for the Chesapeake Bay TMDL

On December 31, 2010, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set limits on the amount of nutrients and sediment that can enter the Chesapeake Bay. In addition to setting these limits, known as Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), EPA required the Bay watershed jurisdictions to develop statewide Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs). WIPs are the first phase of a major initiative to create a road map and accountability framework that will lead to the attainment of restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and clean local streams. Maryland's Phase I WIP, completed in December 2010, allocates allowable loads of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment among different sources and identifies statewide strategies for reducing the levels of these pollutants that are impairing the Chesapeake Bay. 

The Executive Summary of Maryland's Phase I WIP further explains the rationale for the plan. Maryland's Phase II WIP is the second part of a three-phased planning process that extends to 2017, with a final implementation target date of 2025. The Phase II WIP is intended to provide more geographic detail to the implementation plans and may result in refinements to the Bay TMDL. EPA guidance for Phase II places a strong emphasis on working with key local partners to ensure that they are aware of their roles and responsibilities in contributing to the planning and implementation process. To that end, Maryland developed the Phase II WIP in a year-long collaboration with local partners at the county-geographic scale, including county and municipal government staff, soil conservation district managers and other local decision makers, as well as a variety of stakeholder organizations and business interests. Federal and State agency partners also participated to incorporate their contributions toward meeting Maryland's Phase II WIP goals.

In August 2011, EPA provided revised nutrient and sediment target loads to Maryland and other Bay jurisdictions, based on the updated Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) Phase 5.3.2 Watershed Model. The Final Targets were provided at the scale of the five major basins in Maryland, which are the Potomac River basin, Eastern Shore, Western Shore, the Patuxent River basin, and Maryland's portion of the Susquehanna River basin.

The Phase II WIP provides implementation strategies for the five major basins in Maryland. Originally, the WIP was intended to be developed at the county geographic scale; however, EPA decided in October 2011 to scale back its expectations for geographic specificity due to current data and model limitations. Although the plans are documented at the major basin scale, most local partners provided the State information at a county scale that formed the basis of the basin scale plans. The underlying county scale of planning provides further assurance of implementation beyond that of the Phase I WIP, because many of the implementation actions will be conducted by county governments and soil conservation district offices, which operate at that scale.

In parallel with the local teams agricultural work groups, organized for each soil conservation district, developed implementation strategies. These plans reflect the highly specialized nature of agricultural natural resource practices and the close operational relationship with the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA). These plans were combined with the local team plans by staff at the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) to create the final plan.

Submission of this draft plan to EPA is the beginning of a complex process to be implemented between now and 2025 that will continue in "maintenance mode" beyond 2025. Even when we achieve our reductions, we will need to maintain those caps on loads permanently. The two-year milestones incorporated into the watershed plan will also be critical to establishing the near-term accountability necessary to ensure implementation progress. Most important for the 2013 Milestones will be the establishment of the necessary sources of revenue.

Maryland's 2012-2013 Milestone Goals

To promote continual progress, EPA's accountability framework for restoring the Chesapeake Bay calls on states to identify milestones to be reached in two-year increments. The two-year milestones are also are tracked closely by Maryland's BayStat accountability system established by Governor O'Malley.

Maryland's 2013 Milestones cover the period July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2013.

The implementation actions are on-the-ground activities that will result in nutrient and sediment load reductions. The "Implementation Actions" summary table shows the incremental amount of pollution control activity for the two-year milestone period. It does not indicate the cumulative amount of implementation nor the reductions at the end of the milestone period. The cumulative reductions are still being developed using the Chesapeake Bay watershed model.

Developing the Strategy

To develop the Phase II Watershed Plan for Agriculture, the Maryland Department of Agriculture facilitated a series of local Agricultural workgroup meetings in the summer and again in the fall of 2011 within each of the twenty-three counties of Maryland. The Agricultural Workgroups were modeled after the Tributary Strategy Workgroups and included a broad spectrum of stakeholders that represented and specialized in working with the agricultural community. These special teams were led by the local Soil Conservation Districts and focused on pollution reduction plans at the county level. The participants included farmers, Soil Conservation District planners, engineers, technicians, NRCS, FSA, University of Maryland Extension, County Agricultural Coordinators, agro-business, representatives from local watershed organization, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Sierra Club, River Keepers, Maryland Farm Bureau, Delmarva Poultry Institute, Dairy Industry, county planning staff, DPW staff, and Health Department staff. Over 1,000 people participated in the meetings.

Because of the compressed time frame to develop a Phase II WIP, the preliminary meetings in all twenty-three counties were held in June and July prior to EPA providing the state the final loading reduction targets. Workgroup members began with information on current agricultural practices installed and discussed opportunities for further implementation with existing farm management practices and programs. The meetings also focused on local capacity to provide further reductions and the commitment of the participants to implement and develop a workable local strategy.

In September 2011, EPA and MDE released the final reduction targets for all source sectors. The Agricultural load estimates changed with the new model and required the Agricultural Workgroups to reconvene and re-examine the individual local strategies. Meetings were scheduled from mid September to the end of October in all twenty-three counties. The Maryland Department of Environment had developed a new tool to assist all sectors with developing the WIP II by allowing test runs of management options to determine nutrient reductions. This tool, the Maryland Assessment and Scenario Tool (MAST) was first utilized by the Agricultural Workgroups.

Because the new model estimates required agricultural load reductions beyond the workable strategies developed in the first meetings, workgroup members were asked to develop a new set of plans that would require increased technical assistance and increased support for existing programs to achieve a greater load reductions. The plan provided the basis for the Agricultural sector strategies included in Maryland's overall implementation scenario to meet the state-basin reduction targets.

For additional information, please contact:
Rachel Rhodes
Phone: 410-841-5865
Email: rachel.rhodes@maryland.gov