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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency	08-P-0049
?	nffironflncnorW^onoral	January 8, 2008
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Office of Inspector General
At a Glance
Catalyst for Improving the Environment
Why We Did This Review
This review is one of several
conducted by the Office of
Inspector General in response
to a congressional request. We
sought to determine how well
the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) is
assisting its Chesapeake Bay
partners in cleaning up the Bay.
This report evaluates the
progress in controlling
discharges from wastewater
treatment facilities.
Nutrient overload has been
identified as the primary cause
of water quality degradation
within the Chesapeake Bay.
Wastewater treatment facilities
are responsible for
approximately 20 percent of
nutrient discharges into the
Bay. Of this amount, the
483 largest or "significant"
facilities account for 95 percent
of the discharges. Wastewater
treatment facility operations are
governed by the Clean Water
Act's National Pollutant
Discharge Elimination System
Permitting Program.
For further information,
contact our Office of
Congressional and Public
Liaison at (202) 566-2391.
To view the full report,
click on the following link:
Despite Progress, EPA Needs to Improve
Oversight of Wastewater Upgrades in the
Chesapeake Bay Watershed
What We Found
Chesapeake Bay wastewater treatment facilities risk not meeting the 2010 deadline
for nutrient reductions if key facilities are not upgraded in time. In the 7 years
since signing the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement, EPA and its State partners have
taken a number of steps to lay the foundation for achieving the 2010 wastewater
nutrient reduction goals. Water quality standards have been set, nutrient loadings
have been allocated, and nutrient limits are beginning to be incorporated into
permits. However, States need to finish adding nutrient limits to the permits, and
the facilities will need to make significant reductions in the 3 years remaining
before the deadline. Crucially, these reductions will need to be maintained once
achieved. Significant challenges include generating sufficient funding and
addressing continuing population growth. EPA needs to better monitor progress to
ensure needed upgrades occur on time and loading reductions are achieved and
maintained. Otherwise, Bay waters will continue to be impaired, adversely
affecting living resources throughout the ecosystem that supports commercial and
recreational uses.
We also looked at the potential for obtaining additional reductions from wastewater
treatment facilities to compensate for goals not being met in other areas, but
determined that this would not be practical or cost effective.
What We Recommend
We recommend that the EPA Region 3 Regional Administrator work with the
States to establish interim construction milestones for priority facilities; monitor
milestone and financial funding progress for these facilities; and continue efforts in
developing effective and credible water quality trading programs. The Regional
Administrator should also have EPA and States continue to evaluate industrial
discharges and refine industrial nutrient cap loads where appropriate. In response to
our draft report, EPA concurred with all our recommendations and estimated that
wastewater facilities will come close to achieving the nutrient reduction goals in
2010. EPA's estimate was based on new information which had not been verified
by EPA and was received too late for the OIG to evaluate.