Chesapeake Bay Executive Order
Protection and Restoration

Draft Guidance Released on Reducing Water Pollution to Chesapeake Bay

March 22 2010

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today released draft guidance for federal lands management in the Chesapeake Bay watershed that describes the most effective tools and practices to reduce water pollution. In addition to federal lands, the guidance addresses a variety of nonpoint sources, including agricultural lands, urban and suburban areas, and septic systems.

The draft guidance, which is required by the Chesapeake Bay Executive Order, provides federal land managers with a guide to implementing the best proven tools and practices to restore and protect the region’s waterways and the Bay. The same techniques can be utilized by states, local governments, conservation districts, watershed organizations, developers, farmers and citizens in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The cost-effective tools and practices outlined in the document are indicated by current scientific and technical literature to be the most state-of-the-art approaches to reduce water pollution from nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment.

“EPA expects the tools and practices described in this draft guidance to help the federal government lead by example at its facilities and on its land in the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” said Assistant Administrator for Water Peter S. Silva. “States can also use this guidance as a valuable tool to help determine the most effective measures to achieve the pollution reduction goals of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL.”

Public comment on the draft guidance will be accepted for 30 days. EPA will then revise the document for release with a strategy for Chesapeake Bay protection and restoration in May 2010. The draft guidance is available at

The key areas in which the Executive Order draft guidance defines next-generation tools and practices are:

Agricultural on Federal Lands: The draft guidance focuses on significantly expanding on practices and actions that control the delivery of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment from agriculture by employing a whole-farm nutrient management planning approach, including source control and avoidance, in-field control, and edge-of-field trapping and treatment. The tools and practices presented build from the most recent, state-of-the-art literature in nutrient management planning and provide information on reducing pollution from both livestock production on animal feeding operations and row crop agricultural lands.

Development on Federal Lands: In the draft guidance, EPA emphasizes that hydrology is the principal driver of water quality impairments in developed and developing areas. EPA establishes a primary focus on maintaining and restoring predevelopment hydrology to the maximum extent technically feasible. The draft guidance presents background information, data, examples and resources that demonstrate how to implement low-impact development and other green infrastructure techniques that infiltrate, evapotranspire and use stormwater onsite.

Reducing nonpoint source pollution is one of the greatest challenges to restoring water quality in the region’s streams, creeks and rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay. Some relevant facts include:

  • In addition to contributing 31 percent of phosphorus loads and 11 percent of nitrogen loads to the bay, urban and suburban runoff and stormwater sources are the only significant pollutant source that is increasing.
  • On a per-acre basis, construction sites can contribute the most sediment of all land uses – as much as 10 to 20 times that of agricultural lands.
  • Almost half of all the nitrogen and phosphorus pollution delivered to the Chesapeake Bay are from agricultural sources, including both livestock production and row crop land.


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