CBF-PA: Cost Effective Solutions Are Known, Documented In Chesapeake Bay Cleanup
The Pennsylvania Office of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation this week put out the third in a series of fact sheets on cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay noting cost effective pollution solutions have already made significant progress in reducing pollution going to the Bay, particularly in Pennsylvania.
Decades of investments have led to large-scale successes by Pennsylvania in the Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort. The Commonwealth is well on our way to a clean and healthy Bay that acts as a driver for economic activity throughout the 64,000 square mile watershed.
These investments are gaining momentum and to distract ourselves now will have numerous impacts to Pennsylvanian’s rivers and streams, as well as the Chesapeake Bay.
There have been several major, recent studies that document the cost and effectiveness of water pollution cleanup by both the agricultural community and wastewater treatment plants.
A 2009 report by the World Resources Institute found that agricultural practices which rely on the planting of permanent and temporary vegetation (primarily trees, grasses and shrubs) and land preservation were far less costly to install than practices which required large amounts of capital investment.
A study published by the Chesapeake Bay Commission in 2004 provides a breakdown of cost-effectiveness for pollutant reduction from six cost-effective pollution reduction practices applicable to either agricultural or wastewater sectors.
Designed to be a tool to assist in decision-making, the study identified the most cost-effective pollution reduction practices which could be readily implemented on a large scale to achieve notable reductions in pollutant loadings to the Chesapeake Bay.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Chesapeake Bay Program has also quantified the costs associated with Pennsylvania’s pollution reduction practices that are accepted by USEPA as practices which Pennsylvania assesses towards meeting what would become the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint, Watershed Implementation Plans, and Milestones.
These are just a few of the studies mentioned and footnoted in the fact sheet.
When considering the economic benefits of conservation practices, it is important to also consider ancillary benefits to the environment, health and human welfare, and indirect financial benefits to farmers that result from their implementation. These bonus benefits include carbon sequestration, improved wildlife habitat, increased groundwater recharge, reduced flooding, and improved water quality, among others.
The cost for pollution reduction practices to remove a pound of pollutant various greatly by sector, type, and pollutant treated. But it’s important to note that for many of these practices a large number of ancillary environmental and economic benefits that directly impact the Pennsylvanian’s quality of life and economic vitality.
While significant progress has been made in all sectors, there is still a great deal of improvement needed across all sectors to protect, preserve, restore and maintain water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributary rivers and streams.
Investing available funds wisely in proven solutions that do not require large upfront costs and/or high risk remains the most prudent use of taxpayer money. That is why CBF has and will continue to support efforts in the agricultural and urban/suburban areas to improve water quality and fight for cost-effective solutions to pollution through conservation that counts.
A copy of the third fact sheet is available online.
The other fact sheets in this series include--
-- A Primer On Pollutants Of Concern-- outlines the contributions Pennsylvania’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed makes to nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution to the Bay.
-- Nearly 20,000 Miles Of PA Streams Are Polluted-- details the fact there are thousands of stream miles and hundreds of acres of lakes all across Pennsylvania that are considered “impaired” under the federal Clean Water Act that either have or will require what is known as a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).
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