The U.S. EPA has identified the Chesapeake Bay and many of its tributaries as “impaired waters” under the Clean Water Act for nutrients and sediments. Plans to restore the Bay, titled the Chesapeake Bay Initiative, center on reducing discharges of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment to streams within the watershed. Six states, including West Virginia, and the District of Columbia comprise the areas within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
The Obama administration issued an Executive Order in May 2009 to proceed with the Chesapeake Bay, Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), which is the maximum amount of a pollutant that a water body may receive and still meet its water quality standard. The TMDL for the Chesapeake Bay watershed expanded significantly regulation of urban and suburban stormwater discharges and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). The Order also provided the EPA enforcement capabilities if states do not meet established goals.
Each jurisdiction is required to develop Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs). The WIPs identify how each jurisdiction will manage their respective watersheds so that at least 60 percent of the required reductions of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment will be achieved by 2017. West Virginia submitted a Phase I WIP for discharges to the Chesapeake Bay watershed on November 29, 2010 that was developed in accordance with the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Model (CBWM) which projected specific pollution reduction goals for 2017 and 2025. The CBWM provides a mathematical model to predict the health of the Chesapeake Bay based upon changes in population, land use and pollution management. All pollution reduction goals are to be met by 2025.
West Virginia submitted the Phase II WIP to the U.S. EPA on March 30, 2012. The Phase II WIP will further refine how West Virginia will achieve the pollution load reductions to meet the Bay TMDL. Watershed Implementation Plans are expected to result in 60% of the necessary nutrient and sediment reductions by 2017 compared to current loads. Tentatively the WVDEP has identified strategies to be undertaken in each sector listed below:
- Significant Municipal Facilities
- Non-significant Municipal Facilities
- Combined Sewer Overflows
- Significant Industrial Facilities
- Non-significant Industrial Facilities
- Negligible Industrial Wastewater Discharges
- Developed Lands & Industrial
- Regulated Sectors-Stormwater-Associated with Industrial Activity
- Regulated Sectors-Stormwater-Mining Discharges
- Regulated Sectors-Stormwater-Construction Stormwater General Permit
- Regulated Sectors-Stormwater-Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems MS4s)
- Non-Regulated Sectors-Developed Lands
- Regulated Sectors: Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations/ Animal Feeding Operations
Significant effort has been directed to non-regulatory Best Management Practices (BMPs) for controls regarding crop nutrient management, stream buffers, manure management, streamside fencing for livestock and other conservation practices associated with forests and agriculture properties.
The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) is responsible for developing the West Virginia WIPs that are submitted to the U.S. EPA for review and ultimately approval. Although the WVDEP plays the significant role in implementing the WIPs, several other State and Federal agencies provide services and funding to assist in achieving the established pollution reduction goals.
A complete copy of the West Virginia Final Phase II Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan is available on the WVDEP website at: http://www.dep.wv.gov/news/Pages/StatefinalizesPhaseIIplanforChesapeakeBay.aspx.
A review of the West Virginia Phase II WIP looks to include more than stormwater discharge impacts to the mining industry. The Phase II WIP prohibits the use of anhydrous ammonia for treatment of acid mine drainage in order to eliminate discharge of resultant nitrogen additions through the mandated discontinued use of anhydrous ammonia. If you have a business in West Virginia within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and whether that business is involved in coal mining, home building or any business with a potential discharge to a receiving stream, you should review the Phase II WIP to determine how your specific industry may be impacted.
This article was authored by William Chambers, Acacia Environmental Group LLC. For more information on the author see here.