Maryland has met its milestones to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay, Gov. Martin O'Malley announced Monday.
The 2009-2011 milestones are part of the state's Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP), which puts the state on track to achieve its next two-year goal, as well as the 2017 goal.
“There are some challenges so large that we can only tackle them together. Restoring the Bay is one of them. And all of us are here today because we understand that the choices we make together for our Bay matter for our health, our environment, our quality of life, our economy and for future generations," O’Malley said, according to a statement.
“We have worked closely with our local partners to create and carry out a Watershed Implementation Plan that works for each individual community, and do it in an open and transparent way. Thanks to our hard work together, we have achieved our 2009-2011 milestones, and we’re on track to meet our 2012-2013 milestones," he said.
O'Malley's announcement came at the Chesapeake Executive Council meeting Monday in Virginia.
The progress includes planting 429,818 acres of cover crops, which prevented about 2.58 million pounds of nitrogen and 86,000 pounds of phosphorous from impacting the Bay, according to the statement. That figure met 123 percent of the cover crop goal, the statement read.
Improvements to state and local wastewater treatment plants led to the prevention of more than 1.5 million pounds of nitrogen from reaching the Bay—meeting 165 percent of the state's wastewater nitrogen reduction goals, the statement said.
More than 106,000 pounds of nitrogen—88 percent of the state's two-year goals—were prevented from reaching the Bay through improved site-design and retroactively installing stormwater management systems in developments, according to the statement.
The Healthy Air Act prevented more than 331,000 pounds of nitrogen from reaching the Bay on an annual basis from 2009-2011, the state said, reaching 100 percent of its goals.
The state, according to the release, also planted 895 acres of forest buffers to help naturally remove nutrients, meeting 166 percent of its goals in the process.
"Thanks to the leadership of Governor O’Malley and the Maryland General Assembly, legislation passed this year will help us to protect, restore and support healthy waterways and drinking water while preserving farm and forest land, all of which will benefit Maryland families with clean water for years to come," Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Robert M. Summers said in the release. "Clean water is the foundation of public health, economic health and Marylander’s quality of life for the future."
Also in the release, the state said Maryland is on track for its 2012-2013 goals, and in partnerships with Virginia, the Bay's is at the highest level in recorded history.