A new pact is in place to restore the Chesapeake Bay. Six governors and the mayor of Washington D.C. signed a voluntary agreement Monday in Annapolis, committing to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
The last time the states in the watershed signed an agreement like this was in 2000. They found that a new accord was needed to set updated goals based on new federal regulations and the latest scientific research on what is and isn't working in the bay.
"Instead of praying for a better result 20 years from now, we are taking better actions today in order to achieve better results tomorrow," said Gov. Martin O'Malley, D-Maryland.
With the bay behind them, the group, led by O'Malley, signed the latest Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement . It outlines 10 shared goals, including maintaining sustainable fisheries, reducing toxic contaminants and protecting watershed lands.
Earlier in the day, the leaders attended an annual meeting of the Chesapeake Executive Council. They learned that while wastewater treatment upgrades are helping to improve the bay's health, storm water remains a huge challenge.
"Addressing pollution running off our city streets, agricultural fields, even from the air, is more difficult," said Will Baker, president of the non-profit Chesapeake Bay Foundation . "And that's where the challenges lie in the future."
Each jurisdiction has already committed to two-year milestones related to bay clean-up, with the aim of meeting 60 percent of their goals by 2017 and all of them by 2025.
According to recent reports released by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Choose Clean Water Coalition, all the states and D.C. need improvement in some areas, but Maryland is the closest to being on target. Governor O'Malley said it's because Maryland has the most at stake.
"The people are of our state, living as close as we do to the water, are much more aware perhaps then some others throughout our continent, of just how their actions on the land impact the health of the waters," he said.
As part of the agreement, the states and D.C. have 90 days to present plans outlining how they will meet their bay restoration goals.