Chesapeake Executive Council begins charting course to 2025

Members of the Chesapeake Executive Council gathered Tuesday for their annual meeting at the headquarters of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Board, chaired by EPA Administrator Michael Regan, used its time to discuss the coming year 2025 – the target date for which many results under the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement strive to be achieved.

In June 2014, the Executive Council signed the Watershed Agreement, composed of 10 goals and 31 outcomes, with the vision of fostering an ecologically and economically sustainable watershed with clean water, abundant life, preserved lands and access to water, a vibrant cultural heritage and a diversity of residents and engaged stakeholders.

At the meeting, the Board agreed to chart the way forward over the next year to define the necessary steps and prioritize the actions needed to achieve the objectives of the Catchment agreement results. This load will consider recommendations on how best to address and integrate new science and restoration strategies, as well as emerging issues and changing conditions in the watershed (eg, climate change). This critical plan should be in place in time for the 40e anniversary of the Chesapeake Bay program in 2023.

In addition to Catchment agreement results, the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Loador Bay TMDL, calls for 100% pollution reduction practices to be implemented by 2025 to ensure the bay meets healthy water quality standards, such as defined by the EPA. The The EPA recently released a review of the progress of the seven watershed jurisdictions towards this goal.

“The Chesapeake Bay is a vital economic engine and an irreplaceable environmental asset,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “EPA is honored to join our partners as we strive to achieve our restoration goals, build resilience to climate change, and ensure that all share in the benefits of our efforts. With the support of historic bipartisan Infrastructure Act funding, we will work to advance our collective commitments to a clean bay and watershed.

The Board unanimously elected EPA Administrator Michael Regan for a second term as President. Retired Chesapeake Bay Commission Executive Director Ann Swanson was the keynote speaker at the meeting, where she spoke about her 40 years of service to the bay, which has taken her to work beyond the political and geographic boundaries to ensure that watershed restoration remains a priority when it comes to support and funding.

“Over the past year, significant legislation and appropriations have been passed at the state and federal level to accelerate the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” the state senator said. of Maryland Sarah Elfreth, Chair of the Chesapeake Bay Commission. “New funding initiatives in Pennsylvania, climate legislation in Maryland, and efforts to improve resilience in Virginia, all led by Bay Commission members, collectively benefit our shared challenge and shared goals. . Coupled with important federal actions, these initiatives put us on track to maximize our progress through 2025 and beyond.

Members and designates of the Executive Council also heard from Dr. Kandis Boyd, Director of the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office. In her remarks, she referred to the important work undertaken by the watershed administrations over the past year, commending them for their continued leadership in achieving these critical milestones and the many important improvements made to the agricultural sector.

Additionally, Dr. Boyd unveiled the Bay Barometer 2021-2022: An annual report on the status of the program and the health of the bay, offering an overview of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s activities and accomplishments over the past year. In particular, the most recent Bay Barometer provides data updates for Catchment agreement results: Watershed Implementation Plans 2025, blue crab abundance, forest buffers, oysters, public access sites, submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), sustainable schools, toxic contaminant policy and prevention and standards and achievement of water quality. For information on the most recent progress for the 31 outcomes of the Catchment agreementplease visit ChesapeakeProgress.

Created 39 years ago, the Chesapeake Executive Council is responsible for guiding the policy agenda and conservation and restoration objectives for the Chesapeake Bay Program, a regional watershed partnership. Members include the governors of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia, the mayor of the District of Columbia, the chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Tri-State Legislative Commission, and the administrator of the EPA on behalf of the federal government.

“To protect our region’s greatest natural asset, the State of Maryland has made historic investments in bay restoration activities. We remain fully committed to our EPA-approved Watershed Phase III Implementation Plan, which allows us to meet our goals by 2025,” said Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. “With continued state leadership, federal support, and public-private partnerships, we can continue to address emerging challenges and ensure that every jurisdiction is doing its part to meet this generational imperative. It has been a great honor to serve on the Chesapeake Executive Council, and I am proud of the progress we have made together to save this national treasure. »

Denise W. Whigham