Chesapeake Bay Leaders Adopt Agreements Curbing Development

Dec. 3, 2001

Three new cooperative agreements that will minimize the impact of development on urban waterways were adopted today at the annual meeting of the Chesapeake Executive Council by representatives from environmental groups, trade associations, and local, state and federal governments.

The regional pacts aim to improve water quality in the Bay and its tributaries by encouraging regional planning, stormwater management and low impact development in many parts of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The Chesapeake Executive Council unveiled a new Chesapeake Bay Program initiative committed to developing new technologies to reduce stormwater pollution and enhance existing stormwater management practices on government owned lands.

In hopes of further reducing the environmental impacts from residential and commercial development, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, the Center for Watershed Protection and the National Association of Home Builders today signed an agreement launching Builders for the Bay. This new partnership encourages the voluntary adoption of site design principles that benefit local waters and the Chesapeake Bay.

Over the next two years, the program plans to seek the voluntary adoption of these principles in 12 counties or municipalities in the Bay watershed.

Officials from the District of Columbia, the State of Maryland and Montgomery and Prince George's counties today also signed a regional pact stepping up efforts to restore the Anacostia watershed. The 2001 Anacostia Watershed Restoration Agreement builds upon earlier regional agreements and sets new, comprehensive goals for restoring water quality and living resources in the Anacostia basin. The agreement commits to 50 restoration targets — including creating additional riparian forest buffers, decreasing impervious surface area through low impact development, and establishing active river advocacy groups in each major Anacostia subwatershed.

The Bay Program's stormwater directive is one of the first major restoration milestones called for in last year's historic Chesapeake 2000 agreement. Given projected increases in urban and suburban growth, managing stormwater is one of the most important priorities Bay Program partners will undertake to improve water quality and sustain progress in restoring the Bay's living resources. The directive focusing on government lands is a significant first step in that process.

Urban stormwater runoff is responsible for about 15 percent of nutrients (both nitrogen and phosphorus) and 9 percent of sediments entering the Bay and its tributaries, and is responsible for impairments on over 1,570 miles of streams within the watershed.

Enhanced stormwater management improves the health of urban waterways by reducing pollutant loads locally, and also leads to improved water quality downstream by increasing water clarity and reducing excessive algae growth. Urban storm water loads of toxic chemicals are substantial — and today's stormwater directive commits to reducing these loads by 30 percent by 2008 in areas such as Baltimore Harbor and the Anacostia and Elizabeth Rivers.

Increased population and development within the Chesapeake Bay watershed have created challenges for Bay Program partners in controlling the amount of nutrients reaching the Bay's waters.

While past efforts have primarily addressed agricultural runoff, pollutant loads from stormwater are increasing. The three agreements signed today will work to lessen the impacts of development and stormwater flow.

The Chesapeake Executive Council is composed of District of Columbia Mayor Anthony A. Williams; Maryland Governor Parris N. Glendening; Pennsylvania Governor Mark Schweiker; Virginia Governor James S. Gilmore, III; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman; and Chesapeake Bay Commission Chair Brian E. Frosh.

Source: U.S. Newswire