The Final Report delivered to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation outlines activities undertaken jointly by the Rivanna River Basin Commission and the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) from August 2011 through May 2012.
The report details the assistance that RRBC provided to Albemarle, Fluvanna, and Greene Counties and the City of Charlottesville to help them develop information requested by the Commonwealth of Virginia for the Phase II Watershed Implementation Plan for the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. The report also covers TJPDC's assistance to the counties of Louisa and Nelson, as well as activities undertaken together by the RRBC and TJPDC to reach out to multiple stakeholders in the community. The Appendix includes project details and submissions from each of the localities.
A partnership project of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission and the Rivanna River Basin Commission, with funding support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, this work is a continuation of the Piedmont Regional Pilot Project undertaken in 2010 and early 2011.
RRBC has also received funding assistance from the Choose Clean Water coalition to serve and engage with our local government partners during the process of developing information and data for Virginia's Phase II Watershed Implementation Plan due to EPA on December 15, 2011, (draft), and on March 30, 2012 (final).
Since October 2011, Rivanna River Basin Commission has been working with Thomas Jefferson SWCD, Culpeper SWCD, and Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission to compile the requested information, to evaluate strategies that are being or could be employed by localities, and to identify what resources will be required in the future to meet water quality goals.
On October 5, 2011, and further clarified on November 8, 2011, DCR requested information from all localities in Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay watershed to help Virginia develop the Phase II Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP II) for the Chesapeake Bay TMDL.
Rivanna watershed localities' submissions to DCR:
The Bay TMDL, sometimes referred to as a “pollution diet,” establishes limits for the amount of nutrients and sediment allowed to flow into the Bay that have resulted in water quality that cannot support aquatic life in the Bay. The TMDL will be realized through the development and execution of Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) that include pollution limits for point sources (permitted sources such as wastewater treatment plants and urban stormwater systems) and non-point sources (diffuse, non-permitted sources such as agricultural lands and suburban stormwater). Virginia is preparing the Phase II plan and has requested information from local governments about current land use, current level of best management practices (BMPs) for agriculture, urban, and other sectors, planned implementation of BMPs by 2025, and strategies and resources needed to meet 2025 implementation goals.
DCR will aggregate the local data and strategies submitted to verify, through the Chesapeake Bay model, that Virginia will succeed at achieving the pollution reduction goals as set forth in the Phase I Watershed Implementation Plan. If information is not provided by a locality, then default data will be used. (The default data is output from the Chesapeake Bay model, which is generally inaccurate at the county and city scale.) Both EPA and DCR have stated that the data will not be used to develop specific load reductions for each locality (with the exception of highly developed cities and counties that have special permits) and EPA does not have authority to do so.
This information request is an opportunity for local governments to provide information that will improve the accuracy of the Chesapeake Bay watershed model at the local scale. The information being requested also allows local governments the opportunity to identify and assess strategies and resource gaps for implementing practices that will result in water quality improvements at the local scale as well as in the Chesapeake Bay, as required by federal regulatory requirements. It is well understood by everyone that these cleanup activities will be costly and require increased resources at the state and local level. (The Senate Finance Committee report of November 2011 states that the cost to the state will be in the billions.)
November 7, 2011 - Stakeholder Bay TMDL Stakeholder Update Meeting
January 24, 2012 - RRBC Presentation to Greene County Board on WIP II Submission to DCR
February 1, 2012 - RRBC Presentation to Fluvanna County Board on WIP II Submission to DCR
On March 15, 2011, RRBC gave a presentation about the Piedmont Regional Pilot Project to the Middle James Roundtable, a collaborative effort that brings together stakeholders to improve water quality through local and regional community-based watershed projects. Click here to see this presentation.
Ms. Joan Salvati, Director of DCR's Division of Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance, and DCR's team leader in development of the Phase II Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs), also spoke about Phase II WIPs. She reported that DCR is close to finalizing guidance for local governments about Phase II, which will identify the accounting, documentation, and planing that will take place during 2011. She distinguished between the "allocations" that are a regulatory requirement that the Commonwealth of Virginia is responsible for -- and the target reductions of nutrients and sediment that will be asked of localities to help meet the allocations.
Since a 1987 Chesapeake Bay Agreement, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the District of Columbia and the six states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed have implemented various programs to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay so that it will meet the requirements of the Clean Water Act. The primary issue with the Bay has been excessive algae growth and poor water clarity resulting from excessive amounts of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorous) and sediment washing into the Bay from its major tributaries due to various activities and land uses, including agricultural and forestry activities; stormwater runoff and septic tank leachate associated with land development; industrial and wastewater discharges; and atmospheric deposition from within and outside the watershed. These pollutants result in low levels of dissolved oxygen and poor water clarity that, in turn, impacts the necessary conditions for healthy aquatic life.
Despite significant progress over the past two decades, the Bay remains significantly impaired, and cleanup plans failed to meet a 2010 deadline for pollutant reductions stipulated in the 2000 Chesapeake Bay Agreement. In addition, the EPA reached settlement earlier this year in a 2009 lawsuit filed by Bay advocacy groups claiming that the EPA failed to take adequate measures to protect and restore the Bay.
As part of the settlement and due to the failure of earlier, voluntary restoration programs, EPA was required to establish a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the Bay. EPA issued the Final Chesapeake Bay TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) on December 29, 2010. In addition, to focus attention and resources on the Bay, on May 12, 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order (EO) 13508 on Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration to bring a new level of interagency coordination and cooperation and requires that the Chesapeake EO Action Plan be updated annually.
EPA’s TMDL includes Phase I Watershed Implementation Plans developed in conjunction with each of the seven jurisdictions, including Virginia, which outlines how the necessary reductions will be made and maintained so that all necessary actions are in place by 2025. Virginia’s Phase I WIP identifies major tributary nutrient and sediment allocations will be reduced by source sector and describes the agricultural management practices, land use controls, stormwater management, waste load reductions from waste treatment plants, and other methods to be implemented to achieve the Bay clean up.
RRBC participated on the Stakeholder Advisory Group to the Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources, Department of Conservation and Recreation, and Department of Environmental Quality to help develop the Virginia portion of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL during 2010.
In early 2010, RRBC proposed to EPA the Piedmont Regional Pilot Project (PRPP) for the Chesapeake Bay TMDL to investigate and make recommendations to Virginia and EPA on processes for informing and engaging local governments and other stakeholders during Phase II Watershed Implementation planning. Please click here for more information about the Pilot Project, including the final report and recommendations.
Because of the complexity of the Chesapeake Bay, the size of its watershed, and the lack of the extraordinary resources to monitor every contributing stream, the Chesapeake Bay TMDL is based on outputs from a sophisticated set of models to predict and allocate nutrient and sediment reductions necessary to achieve a healthy Bay. These models are calibrated to real-world water quality data and have been reviewed and improved by technical experts from many fields.
Phase II Watershed Implementation Plans will describe how each state will implement reduction strategies at the locality level and are under development now. Draft Phase II WIPs are due to EPA in November 2011 and final Phase II WIPs due in early 2012. Virginia has indicated that it plans to work through the Planning District Commissions in the Bay watershed to engage local governments in Phase II WIPs. The Rivanna River Basin Commission has recommended that watershed science be the basis for developing Phase II WIPs. See these recommendations here.
Chesapeake Bay TMDL fact sheets and key documents can be found here.
A general PowerPoint presentation about the Bay TMDL.
The Chesapeake Bay TMDL is a series of documents that can be downloaded from the EPA Bay TMDL website.
Chesapeake Stat provides an update on Bay clean-up activities and results.
For updates about Virginia’s progress on the Bay TMDL Chesapeake Bay:
DEQ Bay TMDL website
DCR Bay TMDL website
Here are some resources to help better understand how the model works and is being used for the Bay clean-up effort.
Chesapeake Bay Program Modeling
The Rivanna River Basin Commission provides guidance for the stewardship of water and natural resources of the Rivanna River Basin and promotes activities by local, state, and federal governments, and by individuals, that foster resource stewardship for the environmental and economic health of the Basin.