October 4, 2010

Virginia Underwhelms EPA

Many folks, including most CEOs and teachers, understand that setting goals should involve the acronym--SMART. Those letters stand for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

But Virginia didn’t come up with measurable or specific goals to meet EPA standards, at least not EPA’s 2010 standards. EPA poohbah Lisa Jackson is holding states accountable and actually viewing the 1972 Clean Water Act as worthy legislation. Virginia did not get a passing grade in its recent Watershed Improvement Plan, otherwise called WIP. Indeed, EPA deemed it to have “serious deficiencies.”

EPA required this watershed-wide plan to develop a detailed description of how they will achieve pollution reductions from all sources through enforceable or binding—rather than voluntary—measures. It was submitted to EPA as part of a multi-state and federal effort to develop a nutrient and sediment “pollution diet” or Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries.

You can see the “Public Review Draft” of Phase I Draft Watershed Implementation Plan for the Commonwealth of Virginia.at http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/soil_and_water/baytmdl.shtml

It’s 111 pages of verbiage, numbers, and lots of charts! I got a TMDL Migraine trying to read it, so I’ll have to go back another day. One section that did catch my attention regarded Canada geese. The resident Canada goose population peaked at around 265,000 geese in the late 1990s. Now we have about 147,000 of these pesty poopy birds. The goal is to maintain a resident Canada goose population of 125,000-150,000 geese statewide. Now there’s a SMART goal.

As a sailor, I applaud our DEQ for beginning the process of establishing No-Discharge Zones (NDZ) from boaters holding tanks in all tidal creeks draining into the Virginia portion of the Chesapeake Bay or its major tributaries. No date given, so that’s merely a semi-SMART goal. Virginia’s plan, however, did not require that farmers fence livestock out of streams. Boaters—NO; cattle—YES?

Thus EPA is asking Virginia to go back and revise their cleanup plans, so the federal government is not compelled to impose the pollution reductions that it outlined as possibilities in its draft plan. See the EPA’s Draft Chesapeake Bay TDML at www.epa.gov/chesapeakebaytmdl . It iincludes pollution limits to meet water quality standards in the Bay and its tidal rivers, and pollution control measures to fully restore the Bay and its tidal rivers are in place by 2025, with 60 percent of the actions completed by 2017. The final TMDL will be established December 31.

Missing 2000 and 2010 deadlines—in spite of spending millions—to clean up the Chesapeake did not show a real serious attitude on Virginia’s part.

A 45 day public comment period on the EPA’s draft plan runs from September 24 through November 8. Check out your opportunities to comment at www.cbf.org//Page.aspxpid=2051&srctid=1&erid=4390807  

EPA is required to create a Bay pollution "diet" by the end of this year because of a consent agreement EPA signed with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to end a lawsuit against the federal agency. Here’s what the CBF had to say about Virginia’s Watershed improvement Plan: www.cbf.org//Page.aspxpid=2035&srctid=1&erid=4246935

I feel another TMDL Migraine coming on.