I must address the Feb. 13 Metro article "The Deadlines That Failed." Contrary to the impression left by the article, real progress has been and continues to be made in reducing sources of pollution in the Washington region.
The Blue Plains wastewater treatment plant readily met the Chesapeake Bay-driven 2000 deadline to reduce nitrogen by 40 percent and has been on target since. The D.C. Water and Sewer Authority is working with the Environmental Protection Agency to meet the new requirement of an additional 50 percent reduction in nitrogen at an estimated cost of $1 billion. The other wastewater treatment plants in the Washington region have achieved comparable reductions and are developing plans for "limit of technology" upgrades.
The EPA and WASA also have worked out a 20-year plan to reduce the District's combined sewer overflows. The 2003 agreement, which is on schedule for completion by 2008, will achieve an initial 40 percent reduction in overflow volume at a cost of more than $140 million. WASA is also committed to implementing the long-term control plan systemwide to achieve total reductions of 96 percent at an additional estimated cost of $2.2 billion. This plan is on schedule.
Many technical and funding challenges remain as we work toward our water quality goals. We all need to make sure that the schedules to meet those goals are appropriate and realistic. While much more remains to be done, the Washington region has a record of solid achievement in reducing pollution and meeting deadlines.
Chesapeake Bay and Water
Resources Policy Committee
Council of Governments