An Oct. 17 Metro story outlined the results of a recent poll commissioned by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which found that citizens across the watershed recognize the bay as a national treasure and are willing to pay for its restoration. What the article didn't note was that 95 percent of the registered voters polled placed the responsibility on government to meet the commitments to this restoration.

It is an embarrassment that the Environmental Protection Agency lists the Chesapeake Bay among the nation's "dirty waters." Science has provided us with a blueprint to restore the bay. With restoration efforts at a tipping point, it is past time for elected officials to get serious about implementing this blueprint.

A Close to Home article by Howard Ernst on the same day was in error, however, in saying that the Chesapeake Bay Foundation received a $100,000 grant funded in part from Altria Group, the parent company of Philip Morris. Altria did not provide any funding for this grant, according to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the grantor. Altria, in fact, is the subject of a legal action by the foundation challenging a water pollution permit issued by Virginia to Philip Morris USA's tobacco-processing plant in Chesterfield County.


Vice President

Environmental Protection and Restoration

Chesapeake Bay Foundation



Howard Ernst painted a bleak picture of the state of the Chesapeake Bay. But in the Washington region, home to about 25 percent of the residents of the bay's watershed, local initiative and common-sense regulation have significantly reduced pollution and improved water quality in the Potomac River, the bay's second-largest tributary.

Pollution reduction efforts began in 1959 with the implementation of secondary treatment at Blue Plains and at other facilities from 1960 to 1980. Since the early 1970s, phosphorus loadings have been reduced approximately 96 percent. The benefits have been dramatic: Almost no nuisance algal blooms have been observed, and oxygen levels are much improved. Since the 1990s local governments and wastewater utilities in the region have used advanced biological nutrient removal, reducing nitrogen loads from sewage treatment plants more than 40 percent.

Outstanding storm water management programs further have helped mitigate the effects of development. Despite dramatic increases in employment, households and population, nutrient pollution loads from the Washington region have declined, water quality in the Potomac has improved, and recreational fishing and boating have rebounded.

Increases in employment, households and population by 2030 will require more pollution-reduction efforts to improve the quality of life and competitive advantages of our region and to meet new water quality standards for the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. As leaders in the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort, local governments are committed to meeting these challenges.


Vice Chair, Chesapeake Bay Policy Committee

Metropolitan Washington Council

of Governments