After decades of effort, the voluntary, collaborative approach to restoring the health and vitality of the Chesapeake Bay— the largest estuary in the United States—has not worked and, in fact, is failing. A diverse group of 57 senior scientists and policymakers have joined forces to save the Bay. This is our plan.

Sign The Citizens Bay Agreement

Help protect the Chesapeake Bay by signing the Citizens Bay Agreement.  

Citizens Bay Agreement

We the Citizens of the Chesapeake Bay watershed have concluded that after 30 years of effort, the non-binding, voluntary Bay Agreements produced by our elected and appointed officials have not worked to restore the Bay. We recognize that many people, organizations, and government entities have worked diligently to restore the Bay, which would be even more degraded without their actions. But in the face of rapid population growth, expanding development, and pollution from agriculture and developed lands, voluntary efforts for Bay restoration have been insufficient and are likely to continue to fall short in the future.
Read the full text of the Agreement including the 25 step action plan by clicking “READ THE AGREEMENT” on the form below.  To sign the agreement, simply fill in the form as indicated.  Thank you for your support.  

Citizens Bay Agreement

Sign the Citizens Bay Agreement and help protect the Chesapeake Bay!
Citizens Bay Agreement


We the Citizens of the Chesapeake Bay watershed have concluded that after 30 years of effort, the non-binding, voluntary Bay Agreements produced by our elected and appointed officials have not worked to restore the Bay. We recognize that many people, organizations, and government entities have worked diligently to restore the Bay, which would be even more degraded without their actions. But in the face of rapid population growth, expanding development, and pollution from agriculture and developed lands, voluntary efforts for Bay restoration have been insufficient and are likely to continue to fall short in the future.

A Failed Voluntary Approach
After more than thirty years of pursuing nonbinding, voluntary Bay Agreements, the Environmental Protection Agency acknowledges that the water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and almost all of its tributaries is severely degraded. Other analyses indicate that much of the Bay’s waters are declining or not improving, and living resources continue to decline. History shows that no large scale ecosystem restoration effort has succeeded using the voluntary methods embodied in the Bay Agreements.

The real consequences of this failed approach are collapsed fisheries, including oysters, shad and soft clams. In 2012 alone, nearly 15,000 acres of underwater grasses disappeared from the Bay. We have so poisoned our waters that reports abound of serious infections in humans and pets that come into contact with Bay waters. Scientific studies show that oyster populations, the Bay’s great filter feeders, are currently at less than one percent of their historic norms.

We believe that we must transition from the voluntary, nonbinding approach proposed in the latest Bay Agreement to a more comprehensive regulatory program that establishes mandatory, enforceable measures for meeting the nutrient, sediment, and toxic chemical requirements of the Clean Water Act. We firmly believe that in any new Bay Agreement all of the states in the Bay watershed, the District of Columbia, the EPA, and the Chesapeake Bay Commission need to collectively endorse the TMDL component of the Clean Water Act and to pursue the regulatory tools necessary to restore the Bay.

Flaws in the Draft Bay Agreement
Rather than augmenting the existing regulatory framework, we have concluded that the new Chesapeake Bay Draft Watershed Agreement, released on January 29, 2014, is fundamentally flawed in numerous ways and may undermine the existing legal framework.

Flaws in the Draft Chesapeake Bay Agreement
1) The draft Agreement’s opt out clause allows signatories to adjust or ignore their level of participation in the implementation strategies.

2) The draft Agreement lacks enforceable limits and substantive sanctions for noncompliance.

3) The draft Agreement lacks a mechanism for systematic independent evaluations of restoration progress.

4) The draft Agreement’s Land Conservation Section lacks a no net loss forest provision and is inadequate to address the onslaught of population growth and sprawl development.

5) The draft Bay Agreement fails to set the limits on impervious surfaces that are required to reduce storm water runoff rates, volumes, and pollutant loads.

6) The draft Agreement contains no specific goals to reduce toxic contaminants.

7) Global climate change and its impacts on the Bay system are omitted from the draft Agreement and should be forthrightly addressed in any new Agreement.

8) In the draft Bay Agreement, we object to the indefinite postponement of the longstanding agreement to restore 185,000 acres of underwater grasses.

9) The draft Bay Agreement fails to require implementation of best available fish migration technology for the licensing and re-licensing of hydroelectric dams.

10) The draft Bay Agreement fails to dedicate resources to find the causes of the disease and declines in freshwater species in Chesapeake tributaries, including the recreationally valuable Smallmouth Bass.

11) The draft Bay Agreement fails to commit to preserve existing riparian buffers and fails to establish a needed 300 foot forested buffer for exceptional value freshwater waterways and other sensitive water quality areas. There should be a no additional loss of existing buffers policy for development or for agriculture.

12) The draft Bay Agreement makes no mention of the environmental threats caused by the rapid expansion of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in many parts of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

13) The draft Agreement fails to prioritize science in setting goals and making difficult decisions.

New Direction for the Chesapeake Bay Restoration
The draft Bay Agreement lacks specific, scientifically-based, implementation measures. The required measures should be incorporated into a legally binding Agreement, with no opt out provision, and plans should be adopted to fully implement and enforce these measures. We believe that the core measures listed below are critical for restoring the Chesapeake Bay and should be included in any meaningful Bay Agreement:

1) Discrete, performance-based nutrient and sediment reductions from agricultural sources of pollution should be required by law throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Monitoring and assessments of those practices should be mandated and conducted by independent third-party entities to assure effectiveness and proper implementation.

2) Chesapeake Bay watershed states should require agricultural measures to reduce nutrients and sediment flows to the Bay system, including nutrient management plans and the use of Best Management Practices, throughout the watershed. States should include detailed enforcement measures and sanctions for any agricultural pollution source that exceeds specified pollution limits under the TMDL and state Watershed Implementation Plans for each of the 92 Bay segment watersheds.

3) Monitoring agricultural pollution reduction results is essential for achieving Bay-safe agricultural practices, therefore agricultural monitoring results should be available to the public and the implementation of Best Management Practices needs to be publicly reported at a parcel scale.

4) All agricultural lands receiving manures from any animal feed operation should be treated as a regulated entity. It is equally important that there be an assessment and accountability for all Concentrated Animal Feed Operation (CAFOs) and all other federal and state regulated agricultural activities should have increased assessments and accountability. Current state programs do not provide adequate assurance that CAFO permits (particularly related to land application and other state regulations of agricultural activities) are being enforced.

5) States in the Bay watershed should adopt agricultural regulations concerning the land disposal of animal waste/manure that mirror Maryland regulations concerning land disposal of human sludge. These requirements should include the injection or incorporation of all animal waste/manure into soils within 24 hours of application on land, soil tests to assure no animal waste is applied to phosphorus saturated land, and the prohibition of applying animal waste on steep slopes, highly erodible soils, frozen ground, and in riparian buffers of up to 200 feet.

6) States in the Bay watershed should assure that on any agricultural lands that receive human sludge or animal manure, there should be a requirement to plant cover crops for a minimum of one year after the application.

7) Greater accountability and verification of performance of agricultural Best Management Practices is essential and must be required by states in the Bay watershed.

8) States that drain to the Bay should mandate whole-farm water quality plans for all agricultural lands including the next generation of nutrient management, with clear targets, a reasonable implementation schedule, progress checks, and enforcement.

9) States in the Bay watershed should expand their regulatory jurisdiction over storm water controls, require septic system upgrades, and implement growth control measures. Bay watershed states should require completely offsetting new growth related pollution with pollution reductions elsewhere in the same watershed.

10) Each Bay jurisdiction should be required to adopt laws and regulations to assure that there is no net increase in stormwater discharge rate, volume, or pollutants for all new development for a 5-year storm. Current state stormwater laws clearly do not accomplish this.

11) Chesapeake Bay watershed states should include improved water quality retrofit requirements for their storm water permits (MS4) and for all developed lands including road construction or reconstruction. All such storm water permits should be required to meet the no net increase in rate, volume, and pollutants rule. For re-development, to the maximum extent practicable, no net increase in rate, volume, or pollutants should be required for a 5-year storm and offsets required where the no net increase requirement cannot be met. States should include funding mechanisms to provide reasonable assurances that such urban retrofits will be accomplished.

12) States that drain to the Bay should include provisions for improved water quality through systematic urban retrofits of large areas of developed lands such as shopping centers, large industrial sites, and other large impervious surfaced areas in private ownership, with mandatory measures and timelines for such retrofits.

13) Regulatory measures to reduce or eliminate fertilizer usage on residential lawns, golf courses, and public lands should be passed by Chesapeake Bay watershed states, including measures to prohibit phosphorus in fertilizers sold for maintenance of such properties.

14) All federal and state facilities and public lands in the watershed should be required to undertake storm water retrofits to meet pollution limits. Federal and state facilities and lands and buildings should follow guidance developed by EPA pursuant to Section 438 of the Energy Independence and Security Act and Section 502 of the Chesapeake Bay Executive Order (13508). All new government construction should meet a requirement for no net increase in rate, volume, or pollutants for a 5-year storm.

15) States in the Chesapeake Bay watershed should apply the precautionary principle when considering the implementation of hydraulic fracturing techniques and let the best available science determine what areas, if any, in the Chesapeake Bay watershed are suitable for this rapidly spreading technique.

16) Chesapeake Bay watershed states should require a no net loss of forest coverage in each of the 92 Bay segment watersheds and have detailed measures to expand forested buffer coverage to at least 85% of all the shores of the Bay and its tributaries.

17) Bay watershed states should target funds for the fee simple or easement purchase of sensitive lands such as forests and wetlands on private lands and farm lands, especially those bordering the Bay and its rivers. Acquisitions should take into consideration State Wildlife Action Plans and Green Infrastructure maps.

18) Chesapeake Bay watershed states should include regulations that require all new and replacement on-site waste disposal systems (septic systems) in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to be systems that utilize the best available technology for nitrogen removal.

19) Chesapeake Bay watershed states should include requirements for implementation of a mandatory septic inspection program for existing systems, with a requirement for a best available technology system for nitrogen removal in failing systems and inspections of these new systems.

20) Chesapeake Bay watershed states should adopt requirements to evaluate existing clusters of septic systems for connection to centralized sewage treatment that uses Enhanced Nutrient Removal technology.

21) Chesapeake Bay watershed states should pass provisions for stricter control of air emissions by better regulating and enforcing emission controls from all major sources.

22) All new stationary sources of air emissions in the region that contribute increased nitrogen to the Bay should be offset and Chesapeake Bay watershed states should enact provisions for accomplishing these offsets.

23) All wastewater treatment plants that discharge into the Bay watershed should be required to meet nutrient discharge limits of no more than 3.0 mg/l Nitrogen and 0.3 mg/l Phosphorus.

24) States should allocate wastewater treatment plant pollution loads based on 2010 wastewater flows, assuming a concentration of 3.0 mg/l of nitrogen and 0.3 mg/l of phosphorus. Any increased nitrogen or phosphorus loads with flows beyond 2010 actual flow levels must be offset with equal or greater reductions from other sources.

25) Chesapeake Bay watershed states must aggressively address and fund infrastructure upgrades to prevent and treat combined sanitary sewer overflows. Chesapeake Bay watershed states should adopt all necessary measures to assure that existing Clean Water Act and other water quality laws are fully enforced.

26) Chesapeake Bay watershed states should invest in ongoing scientific analysis of climate change and sea-level rise in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and make use of the best available science to adopt policies designed to reverse or alleviate the impact of climate change and sea-level rise in the Bay watershed.

27) Chesapeake Bay watershed states should continue the long-held goal of a Bay free of toxic chemicals by reducing or eliminating the input of chemical contaminants from all controllable sources to levels that result in no toxic or bio-accumulative impact on the living resources that inhabit the Bay or on human health.

28) In compliance with Executive Order #12898, signed by President Clinton in 1994, the Environmental Protection Agency and its Chesapeake Bay partners should make achieving environmental justice a priority in the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort, assuring the fair treatment of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of policies related to Chesapeake Bay restoration.

By signing this Citizens Agreement, we rededicate ourselves to the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and commit to working together to assure that our public servants fulfill their obligation to protect the environmental rights of the citizens of this region. We urge these measures be adopted in the final Chesapeake Bay Agreement.
DATED: March 4, 2014
Respectfully Submitted,

Senator Gerald W. Winegrad
Maryland State Senator (1983-1995), Delegate (1978-1983)
1328 Washington Drive
Annapolis, Maryland 21403

Tom Horton*
Author and Adjunct Professor
Salisbury University
6633 Oak Ridge Dr
Hebron, MD 21830-1180

W. Tayloe Murphy, Jr.
Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources (2002-2006); Virginia House of Delegates (1982-2000)
King Copsico Farm
Mount Holly, Virginia 22524-0218

Ellen Moyer, Mayor
City of Annapolis (2001-2009)
35 Eastern Avenue
Annapolis, MD 21403

Frederick Tutman, Patuxent RIVERKEEPER®
Patuxewnt River Center
17412 Nottingham Road
Upper Marlboro, MD  20772

Kathy Phillips
Assateague Coastkeeper
Executive Director - Assateague Coastal Trust
PO Box 731
Berlin, MD 21811

Michael R Helfrich
Lower Susquehanna RIVERKEEPER®
Stewards of the Lower Susquehanna, Inc.
324 W Market St
York, PA 17401 Robert Jay

Robert Gallagher*, Member,
Board of Directors
Maryland League of Conservation Voters
113 Spa View A venue
Annapolis, MD 21401

Suzanne Pogell, Master Watershed Steward
President, Womanship, Inc & Former Chair,
Annapolis Environmental Commission
137 Conduit Street
Annapolis, Maryland 21401


Howard Ernst*, Ph.D.
Author and Professor
55 Maryland Avenue
Annapolis, MD 21401

Gerrit-Jan Knaap*, Ph.D. , Professor
Urban Studies and Planning
Executive Director, National Center for Smart Growth
University of Maryland
College Park, Maryland 20742

Councilman Chris Trumbauer,
Anne Arundel County Council
65 Decatur Avenue
Annpolis, MD  21403

Robert. A. Bachman*, PhD
Commissioner, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat
675 Blue Lake Road
Denver, Pa. 17517-9520

Diana L. Muller, South River RIVERKEEPER® South River Federation
2830 Solomons Island Rd., Suite B
Edgewater, MD  21037

Fred Kelly, Severn River RIVERKEEPER®
329 Riverview Trail
Annapolis, MD 21401

Kurt Riegel*, Chair
Annapolis Environmental Commission
Member, Severn River Commission
Political Chair, Anne Arundel Sierra Club
Board Member, Severn River Association
307A Monterey Ave
Annapolis, MD 21401

Ray Sullivan, Save Your Annapolis Neck
1036 Harbor Drive
Annapolis, MD 21403

Timothy D. Junkin, Director
Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy
24 N. Harrison Street
Easton, MD 21601


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