Despite nearly 30 years of clean-up efforts from all levels of government, conservation groups and others, the Chesapeake Bay watershed remains a challenged ecosystem. The tidal waters of the Bay continue to be enriched with the nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus, and sediment. This excess of nutrients and sediments leads to problems such as annual dead zones, loss of habitat for aquatic species in the Bay and tidal waters, as well as localized water quality concerns in many upstream rivers.
As a result, in accordance with the federal Clean Water Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is directing the Chesapeake Bay states and the District of Columbia to develop and implement a "pollution diet" for the Bay and its tidal waters known as a Total Daily Maximum Load. In short this "TMDL" establishes how much nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment can flow into the waters of the Bay while maintaining a water quality standard that will allow for improved water quality and aquatic habitats. EPA announced its initial TMDL in Dec. 2010. To meet the reduction goals in the TMDL, Virginia developed an initial Watershed Implementation Plan. The plan has strategies and outlines programs and resources needed to reach the TMDL.
EPA announced the Bay TMDL and approved Virginia’s initial Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) at the same time. This initial plan is known as the Phase I WIP. It was developed by DCR, DEQ and other state agencies with help from local governments, conservation groups, and the agricultural, development and business communities.
For more information on the development of the Phase I WIP, go to the Phase I Archive.
In the next phase of the process, the TMDL and implementation plan were localized across the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Most of Virginia's land mass is in the bay watershed, which is made up of all or part of 68 counties and 28 cities.
For Phase II, the TMDL’s load allocations, or legally binding reduction goals, were established for 39 Virginia tidal water segments. State staff conducted an intensive stakeholder process engaging 16 planning district commissions, 96 localities, 32 soil and water conservation districts and numerous other stakeholders to develop an implementation plan that addresses conditions in all tidal segments.
For more information on the development of the Phase II WIP, go to the Phase II Archive.
As part of the Bay TMDL and watershed implementation plan process, all Chesapeake Bay states agreed to submit milestones as an update to progress in meeting the 2025 reduction goals. Virginia has submitted 2012-13 milestones and an updated progress report.
The EPA website has a good list of Chesapeake Bay TMDL Frequently Asked Questions. Click here for a short fact sheet, produced by EPA, that briefly covers the TMDL process throughout the Chesapeake Bay region.
Click here for a list of distinctly Virginian FAQs. Check back frequently. We’ll update questions and answers as the process progresses. Or click here for a list of Phase II frequently asked questions. If you have a question that’s not answered in either FAQ, please click here to share it with us.
For more information on the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, including fact sheets, frequently asked questions and video clips of previous presentations, visit the EPA Bay TMDL website.
Also, check this page frequently. We will update it as the Bay TMDL process develops.
For more information, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or to subscribe to regular e-mail updates on the TMDL process. Click here for an archive of previous Virginia Bay TMDL notices.