A new draft accord to clean up the ailing Chesapeake Bay stresses the need to restore water quality and curb runaway development but stops short of placing specific limits on the amount of waste that factories, sewers and farmers can dump into the bay, according to a copy of the draft obtained by The Washington Post.
The governors of Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, the mayor of the District and representatives of the federal government will use the draft as a blueprint to forge a new bay cleanup agreement at a two-day meeting that begins today in Norfolk.
Billed as the "summer summit," it is seen as the most important bay meeting in four years, when the governors' predecessors agreed to work together on the cleanup effort.
The summit is considered significant as it reflects a commitment by the governors -- all elected in the last two years -- to carry on the cleanup effort begun four years ago.
In December 1983, President Reagan, along with the three governors and D.C. Mayor Marion Barry announced a massive effort to stop the slow death of the Chesapeake, the largest estuary in North America.
Galvanizing the effort was a $27 million federal Environmental Protection Agency study that found that nearly all of the Bay's creatures were declining and that waste from factories, sewers and farms was accumulating in bay waters.
Recent studies show that the decline has not slowed, and in some parts of the 195-mile Bay, the problem has worsened. Officials working on the cleanup effort have stressed that restoring the bay is a long-term effort that will proceed in stages.
In Norfolk, officials are expected to discuss strengthening some aspects of the draft, including possibly setting a goal for reducing the amount of nutrients from sewer systems and farms that rob the bay of oxygen, smothering plant and animal life.
The draft agreement "may not be all things to all people but it will certainly change -- my guess is extensively -- over the next couple of days," said John Daniel, Virginia secretary of natural resources.
He said Virginia Gov. Gerald L. Baliles, who suggested the summit, would press for more specific standards on water quality.
And federal EPA Administrator Lee M. Thomas also is expected to push for sizable reductions in the amount of pollutants allowed into the bay, according to sources.
"The idea of quantifiable goals should be an important part of the process," Thomas said yesterday through a spokesman. "There are limitations in terms of current science and technology to get a consensus in order to set these goals . . . but . . . the states are still willing to entertain this idea."
But Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who has been criticized for being insensitive to environmental problems, is expected to resist efforts to clamp down on limits on industrial pollutants, according to sources.
"It's a very nice idea to say we're going to reduce X pollutants by 40 percent by 1988, but I don't know what that means," said David Carroll, environmental aide to Schaefer. "We think it's much wiser to go to every river basin and develop a very specific strategy that reflects the problems of that river basin."
Will Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the largest environmental organization dedicated to preserving the bay, said his group also would press for specific pollution reduction goals and timetables, especially for reducing the amount of phosphorous and nitrogen going into the bay.
"I think they deserve credit for tackling some of the tough issues that people said they'd never tackle," Baker said.
If the new accord is signed by Schaefer, Baliles and Pennsylvania Gov. Robert P. Casey, as expected, it will then be unveiled for public comment. Tougher issues such as putting what many expect will be a price tag in the billions of dollars on the renewed cleanup effort will await announcement of the final cleanup accord in December.