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Group to State: Chesapeake Needs Stricter "Pollution Diet"

October 25, 2010

RICHMOND, Va. - Pollution seems to be a political hot potato these days, especially when it comes to the Chesapeake Bay. Peggy Sanner, staff attorney for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a draft called a "pollution diet" for Virginia and other Bay states, set to be finalized by the end of the year.

To make the plan work, the state of Virginia needs to step up its own plan - and so far, Sanner says, the state's plan is far too vague.

"It will have to include reductions from sewage plants in the lower James (River) to ensure equity with other plants and other basins. We would like the state to provide more assurance that pollution from farms and cities will be reduced by mandates, and also by specific funding."

Sanner says the state's current plan does not provide an equal playing field for all parties involved.

"There are a number of wastewater treatment plants in the lower James that are essentially not asked to do much at all, where significant burdens will be put on the agricultural sector."

While Sanner says she's appreciative of the work that has gone into the state plan, she believes it must be strengthened in order to keep the responsibilities for the Bay at the state level.

The EPA's plan calls for a 25 percent reduction in nitrogen and phosphorus, and at least a 16 percent reduction in sediment that runs into the Bay. Some Virginia officials have objected to the cost and question the effectiveness of the plan. Sanner says a University of Virginia study estimates that cleaning up the Bay would give the economy a boost and create jobs.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA