TMDL- Hope for Chesapeake Bay?


When the EPA rolled out the TMDL (total maximum daily load) program, the mandatory limit on nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment pollution, last Fall I had high hopes that Bay restoration efforts were finally on the right track after 30 years of frustrating failure. I now realize it will not succeed for two reasons.
1. Most researchers including President Clinton’s blue ribbon commission on Gulf Hypoxia, USGS national monitoring, the Farm Animal Industries Pew Commission, UM. Horn Point Lab’s Choptank monitoring, the EPA’s nutrient load charts for the Bay agree (see references on the website) that between 80% -94% of nutrient and sediment pollution is caused by current industrial agricultural practices. These studies represent rivers and estuaries in more than 50% of the US land area. It will not stand to penalize Grain/CAFO farmers in one section of the Country thus forcing them to be non competitive in a national and international market. Nutrient and sediment pollution is a national problem and must be solved with national mandates.
2. After the EPA sets the TMDL for proposed 54 Bay Watershed segments the administration of solutions in Maryland falls to State agencies that outlined their plan at a meeting in Denton Maryland on 6/23/10. The plan proposes the same voluntary compliance program, which has failed for 30 years. Extensive water sample monitoring was not proposed but seemed to be embraced only after questioning. Five Maryland Governors including the current Governor have backed away from meaningful action when faced with the opposition of agribusiness. The latest is Governor O’Malley’s backpedal on proposed CAFO permitting. When Governors ask Land Grant Universities for an opinion they receive an opinion based on the influence of the American Farm Bureau, the Corn Growers Association and the Fertilizer Institute their large contributors, while in fact a majority of agronomists and soil scientist understand the damage being done by current industrial agricultural practices. (see our 6/19 post)

Iowa State University Agronomist Fred Kirchenmann states in our 6/19 post that industrial agriculture needs basic system changes. But Gulf study scientists including USGS, the Pew Commission, and USDA soil scientists believe that there are 3 actions that could help reduce pollution substantially 1. Reduce application of chemical fertilizer (at least 25%) from current levels. 2. Increase number of crops in yearly rotation including winter cover crops i.e.: ban the current single and two crop rotations 3. Pyrolysis of CAFO manure. These actions on a national scale would increase price and decrease consumption of corn-based red meat and corn based processed food and improve national health. (See health references on our website). Public apathy and agribusiness success at shifting responsibility is a major impediment to needed action. Every person should answer the question. Does our generation really want to leave our children with the legacy of massive pollution, topsoil loss, unhealthy food, and poor health, which is the current status and direction?


One Response to “TMDL- Hope for Chesapeake Bay?”

  1. kerstis Says:

    The purpose of this comment is to reinforce what was said in the original post. The EPA’s TMDL program will fail in the State of Maryland because the same State bureaucracy using the same voluntary and inadequate BMP’s which have been extensively implemented in the past without success is the focus of the new implementation plan. What will work is the State mandating fertilizer application controls on an acreage basis for each landowner which reflect the federal mandate and stop single crop and 2 crop tillage systems.

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