Posted on June 13, 2022
More than $90 million for Chesapeake Bay conservation, and $440 million in clean water grants is what eight U.S. senators are requesting amid decreased crab populations.
In a May 6 letter to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, nine programs aimed at bay conservation and clean water initiatives were outlined as targets for increased funding.
Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA), Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-MD), Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY) signed the letter asking for the Environmental Protection Agency funding.
“Our states are heavily invested in implementing a Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint designed to restore this national treasure. Continued federal partnership to support this complex, regional effort is key to their success,” the letter stated.
As the states participating in the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, the goal is to advance the restoration and protection of the bay watershed through improvements to water quality, marine life abundance, expansion of conservation land, and enacting climate change solutions.
The requested funding would come during federal Fiscal Year 2023 if it is approved.
The original 1983 agreement signed by Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania was limited as it was entirely voluntary with the Chesapeake Bay Program also coming in the same year after a congressional act reinforced the conservation agreement.
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“Under the Agreement, the jurisdictions and federal agencies have voluntarily committed to work together to restore water quality in the Chesapeake Bay by 2025,” the letter said. “We must maintain federal investment in the programs below to support state-led efforts and ensure their continued success.”
Among the initiatives highlighted was the Chesapeake Bay Program in which federal funds are used to coordinate the complex cross-state science, research, modeling, monitoring, data collection and other activities essential to support partners’ collaboration.
Recommendations include $91,000,000 for the Chesapeake Bay program, an increase of $3,000,000 above the enacted level.
From within the amount provided, $20,500,000 is for nutrient and sediment removal grants and $25,500,000 is for small watershed grants to control polluted runoff from urban, suburban and agricultural lands, and $22,708,000 is for state-based implementation in the most effective basins.
There is also the Chesapeake WILD Program that benefits key areas in the tidal Chesapeake Bay system and provide much-needed financial and technical assistance to ensure states are able to meet commitments to improve the health and habitat.
$15 million is the recommendation.
Nonpoint Source Implementation Grants that assist in stopping nonpoint source pollution in the bay are recommended to receive $189,999,000.
Pollution Control Grants that assist in managing the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System would get $251,538,000.
Chesapeake Bay Program activities by the U.S. Geological Survey conduct watershed-wide research, assessment, monitoring, and modeling that helps make informed management decisions to restore and protect the bay.
They are recommended to receive an increase to $17,150,000.
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The Chesapeake Bay Office by the National Park Service works to increase public access to the ecological, cultural, and historic resources of the watershed region through multiple programs. They would receive $5,600,000.
The Conservation Technical Assistance Program works with land managers to prepare and implement conservation plans in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, sediment and ensures nutrient loads into the Bay are directly reduced.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Chesapeake Bay Office focuses on applied research and monitoring in fisheries and aquatic habitats; synthesis, and analysis to describe and predict Bay ecosystem processes. They would receive $14,100,000.
Finally, the National Sea Grant College Program does university research on oyster diseases, restoration, and human health risks; research on the biology, prevention, and forecasting of harmful algal blooms; research, education, and extension services on coastal resilience and stormwater management; and university research on sustainable aquaculture.
They would receive $176,000,000.
“We thank you for supporting this unique partnership with our respective states in an extraordinary effort to restore a national treasure for generations,” the letter said.