WIP'ped Into Shape: Metrics for Ensuring Accountability for Chesapeake Bay Restoration

by Yee Huang

August 09, 2010

In the past 15 months, the combination of President Obama’s Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration Executive Order and the EPA’s Bay-wide Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) process has established a framework for ensuring accountability and success in Bay restoration efforts. No aspect of this new framework is more important than the Bay states’ and the District of Columbia’s Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs), which will demonstrate how they will meet the pollution targets in the applicable TMDLs. While the soundness of states’ WIPs depends on a broad array of technical, financial, and administrative factors, our bottom line expectation is that states write clear, objective, and transparent plans so that all watershed partners achieve their TMDL pollution reductions and ultimately restore the Chesapeake Bay. These WIPs will also enable the public to vigorously monitor the progress in meeting those commitments.

The Center for Progressive Reform has just issued a set of metrics for grading and evaluating the Chesapeake Bay states’ and the District of Columbia’s Phase I WIPs. The metrics will evaluate each Phase I WIP by assigning letter grades that evaluate (1) the transparency of information in the WIPs in providing key information about their pollution control programs and (2) the strength of the programs in making actual pollution reductions. The WIPs provide an unprecedented opportunity to objectively measure progress toward restoring the Bay on a state-by-state basis, and the assigned grades will provide a clear and understandable tool for monitoring each state’s commitment to restoration.

In partnership with the Choose Clean Water Coalition, we are sending each state governor and environmental agency head a copy of the metrics to provide ample notice of what specific information we believe the WIPs should include.

The Chesapeake Watershed states are required by EPA to publish their draft Phase I WIPs by September 24, 2010, at which point they will be open for public comment for 45 days. A three-member panel of CPR Member Scholars will evaluate the draft plans and release the grades during that period.

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