What We Do to Protect the Chesapeake Bay

Pier on Chesapeake Bay

The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. Encompassing six states and the District of Columbia, and covering more than 64,000 square miles, it is one of the most productive estuaries in the world. Unfortunately, the Chesapeake Bay faces serious problems due to human activities, including polluted stormwater runoff, over fertilization and pollution from animal wastes, deforestation, and wetland destruction from agricultural, urban, and suburban development.

The Choose Clean Water Coalition was formed in 2009 to serve as a strong, united, effective advocate for restoring the thousands of streams and rivers flowing to the Chesapeake Bay by coordinating policy, message, action and accountability for clean water at the federal, state and local levels. The Coalition now brings together more than 200 organizations from Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia to advocate for clean water. A membership list and more information about the Coalition and its work can be found at www.choosecleanwater.org.

As the co-chair and fiscal agent of the 160-organization coalition Choose Clean Water, NWF is spearheading the charge to:

  • Support Chesapeake pollution limits and state clean water blueprints — The Coalition advocates for clean water policies. As the 2017 and 2025 pollution reduction deadlines approach, the Coalition supports the implementation of state clean water blueprints and the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay pollution limits. The Coalition partners with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to verify progress reported by the watershed states toward meeting their two-year milestones. The pressure and oversight encouraged accurate reporting on their accomplishments.

  • Stop polluted runoff in cities and towns — Stormwater runoff is a growing source of nutrient and sediment pollution in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The Coalition supports best practices information sharing within and between states. Although the EPA proposal to revise the national stormwater rules has been delayed, the Chesapeake community continues to advocate for stronger statutes with better protections and opportunities to improve stormwater runoff management.

  • Protect communities from water pollution created by gas drilling — Natural gas drilling by hydraulic fracturing injects millions of gallons of water, sand, and chemicals underground to break up shale and release gas. The negative impact of this rapidly developing industry has overwhelmed communities. Negative effects include: drinking water contamination, industrialization of farm and forest land, increased land erosion, and runoff of nutrients and sediment from drilling operations. Working with Coalition members in the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, we will share critical information about where hydrofracking and legacy mining impacts are occurring and best practices to test water quality, and champion federal policies that increase transparency and accountability for polluters.

  • Ensure continued federal investment in the Chesapeake Bay watershed — The Chesapeake watershed has long been a priority of the White House and Congress. This has been supported by the 2008 Farm Bill, the president’s executive order on Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration in 2009, and the issuance of the Chesapeake Bay pollution limits (TMDL) in December 2010. We continue to advocate for these federal dollars and programs, fighting attempts to roll back funding and protections at a time when they are needed most.

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