EPA cuts and why the Bay's dead zone kills fish

President Trump Administration has proposed big cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency. It's getting a lot of attention around because the Chesapeake Bay stands to be a big loser.

ANNAPOLIS, MD (WUSA9) - People who’ve worked on Chesapeake Bay restoration for decades have been shocked by the Trump Administration’s proposed 30% cut to the EPA, because the agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program has played a critical role in controlling pollution since 1985.

Congress recently trimmed back the proposed cut to the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program to 18%. It doesn’t feel like much of a consolation.

Currently, the Bay remains so badly polluted by runoff from sewage treatment plants, suburbs, and farms that a “dead zone” still persistently forms in about 15% of Bay waters every summer.

RELATED: DC is #1 on EPA's 2017 Top Cities List

The dead zone is caused when algae growth explodes. It is fueled by pollutants in the water like nitrogen which act like fertilizer. The effect sucks nearly all the dissolved oxygen from affected waters, causing fish and crabs to move out. Frequently the algae blooms cause gigantic fish kills.

The EPA Chesapeake Bay Program is important because there are six states and the District Of Columbia pollute waters that drain down rivers and streams to the Chesapeake Bay.

It would be difficult, if not impossible, to get all the jurisdictions to agree on pollution control policies without federal involvement.

For instance, federal funding has been critical to regional upgrades to sewage treatment systems for decades.   Since the EPA’s Bay Program started in 1985, phosphorous pollution from sewage treatment plants has been reduced by 75%.

This is why there is so much concern about the proposed cuts to the EPA.

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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