Cooperatove Conservation Project

Chesapeake Bay Program, Chesapeake Bay Commission

Tracking Nutrients and Sediment to Target Restoration Activities

Location: Northeastern/Mid-Atlantic Region: Delaware Maryland New York Pennsylvania Virginia West Virginia

Project Summary: The Chesapeake Bay Program is a multi-state, multi-agency effort to restore water quality in the Chesapeake Bay through sound land-use decisions.
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USGS scientist collecting water quality samples to help partners assess the effectiveness of restoration actions
Resource Challenge
The Chesapeake Bay, the Nation’s largest estuary, suffers from water quality problems, loss of habitat, and over-harvesting of  natural resources. The Bay is listed under the Federal Clean Water  Act as an “impaired water body” because of excess nutrients and sediment.  Because of this listing, the Bay’s water quality must be improved by 2010.  To respond to the problem, the Chesapeake  Bay Program (CBP), a Federal-State partnership, completed the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement, establishing restoration goals for the Bay and its watershed for the next ten years.  Their goals focus on making sound land use decisions to improve water quality, protect  vital habitat, and support healthy populations of plants and animals in the Bay and its watershed.  The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), an original CBP Federal partner, is providing scientific information to help the Partnership formulate, implement, and assess the effectiveness of their restoration goals. 
Examples of Key Partners
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), USDA Farm Services Agency, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, National  Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Army Corps  of Engineers, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), USDI Fish and Wildlife  Service, USDI National Park Service, Department of Defense, States  of Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, and West  Virginia, the District of Columbia, Chesapeake Bay Commission,  universities, and non-government organizations
Results and Accomplishments
The CBP has established a unique approach to developing and  achieving water quality restoration goals. USGS studies show how  nutrients and sediment through the watershed; almost half of the nutrients move slowly through the ground water.  This phenomenon  causes a lag between the time some nutrient reduction practices are implemented and the time when improvements in water  quality become apparent. The CBP used the findings to accelerate sewage treatment plant improvements and to better target agricultural practices to reduce nitrogen.  Partners are also using USGS data to target restoration activities to the specific locations  where they will be most effective.
CBP is establishing a water quality monitoring network in the Bay watershed to document improvements as nutrient reduction strategies are implemented.  The network design was led by the USGS and is being implemented by ten Federal and state partners.  Results will help CBP track water quality changes watershed-wide and determine if new practices need to be adopted.

The CBP uses the science of watershed function to better target water-quality improvements

Project Contact
Ann Swanson
Executive Director
Chesapeake Bay Commission

(410) 263-3420


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