PADEP Begins Implementing Chesapeake Bay Tributary Strategy

January 16, 2006
by JOHN GULLACE
Client Alert Newsletter Forecast 2006

More than half of Pennsylvania lies within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Therefore, the Chesapeake Bay Tributary Strategy ("CBTS"), issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection ("PADEP") in December 2004 to meet nutrient and sediment reduction goals for this water body, may have significant repercussions for wastewater dischargers across much of the Commonwealth. According to PADEP, Maryland's adoption of water quality standards, which became effective on August 29, 2005, triggered Pennsylvania's obligations under the CBTS. On October 1, PADEP issued for public comment draft guidance intended to create a framework for a nutrient credit trading program applicable to new or increasing discharges of nutrients to Chesapeake Bay tributaries. PADEP also began denying applications for new surface water discharges for failure to obtain or address the need for offsetting credits, and began issuing letters to existing wastewater dischargers to the tributary that provided schedules of required cutbacks in nutrient loading by these dischargers. However, in an unexplained action, PADEP recently rescinded these letters. The Pennsylvania House and Senate have also both unanimously passed resolutions calling for a nine-month moratorium on CBTS implementation and a reevaluation of its costs and benefits. PADEP's implementation of the CBTS and nutrient credit trading program, and the looming showdown between PADEP and the General Assembly, should be watched closely in the coming year.