The signing of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup compact represents an encouraging and surprisingly active measure undertaken by the states. In a time when nuclear issues and political crisis consume our leaders' diligence, it is a pleasure to see that some have realized the importance of our environment.

The goal, to be obtained by the year 2000, is to diminish the pollutants affecting the 62,000 square miles of the bay's watershed, which covers large portions of five states north and south of D.C.

Although the cost will be considerable, what we will restore will be worth far more. First, the Environmental Protection Agency and federal regulators will study and gradually work to reduce what goes into the water, such as pollutants and toxic chemicals, and in doing so, may find previously undetected sources of dumping.

Second, the cleaner water and resurgence of aquatic life will allow the government to drop restrictions on public pastimes such as swimming and fishing in the threatened locations. The regrowth of the life in the waters will save jobs in, and bolster the economy of, the waning seafood industry associated with the bay.

Finally, we will fulfill our moral responsibility of protecting and conserving the wildlife of the country, especially in such an industrial area as ours. ROBERT B. ANDERSON Washington