Maryland officials now say that the goal of finishing a Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan by 2020 is not feasible, and that the state will stick with the federally-mandated date of 2025.
Maryland is pushing its ambitious Chesapeake Bay restoration deadline back by a few years, reflecting the large scope of the pollution problem, according to the state and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
Under the Environmental Protection Agency's Bay pollution diet program, Chesapeake watershed states have to make plans to clean up their waterways by 2025. But Maryland, long a leader in bay restoration, said it would finish early, by 2020.
Reality has intervened, however, and the state now says it will stick with the later deadline. This is because cleaning up the bay is a monumental task, says Jen Aiosa, Maryland senior scientist for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
"We've heard from some local jurisdictions that the number of projects they need to implement is magnitudes greater than what they would typically implement in any given year," she says.
Cost is another other big issue. For example, upgrades to wastewater and stormwater infrastructure in Anne Arundel County could cost $1.6-$2 billion.
Maryland's Department of the Environment says delaying the deadline does not mean Maryland is easing up on its goals, but rather it is allowing counties the necessary time to fully meet them.