The Chesapeake Bay watershed has reached 27% of its goal for nitrogen reduction by 2025. For phosphorus: 43%. Producers in the watershed have implemented 37% of the needed practices on four million acres.
In five years, $2.2 billion in federal dollars have been invested there, and despite the price tag, it stands as an example of nutrient reduction in action.
On Monday researchers from Maryland spoke at a meeting of the Water Resources Coordinating Council’s Measures of Success subcommittee in Des Moines.
University of Maryland coastal scientist David Nemazie says, from a monetary perspective, success at reducing nutrients is tied to reliable funding.
“What we’ve heard from the communities in Maryland, is that they don’t mind starting a new program. They want to make sure, however, that they’re in partnership for that program for the long-term." He says, "They don’t want to do it one year and then be out, or two years, and then be out. Because now they’ve learned a new practice, and they’ve started doing it. It may require additional funding, and if that funding stream goes away, then they feel that they haven’t gotten a fair shake in that.”
Iowa State Representative Chuck Isenhart coordinated the Maryland researchers to speak with the Measures subcommittee. Isenhart says the approach taken to keep the public informed of nutrient reduction efforts on the Chesapeake Bay is a key takeaway.
He says, “I know when I wake up in the morning, one of the first things I do is look in the mirror, and I’m either impressed or not-so-impressed by what I see; people are very conscious of how they look. And I think the more we’re able to do in terms of documenting where we’re at and what progress we’re making, and reporting that publicly, we’ll start to see in the mirror what we look like as a state. And we’ll decide hey, we like what we see, and we’re going in the right direction, or maybe we need to comb our hair and brush our teeth, and shave up a little bit.”