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Maryland Renews Pledge To Help Clean Up Chesapeake

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- No one thing has left the Chesapeake Bay struggling--so now, more things are about to be taken on.

Alex DeMetrick reports at least that's what Maryland and five other states are pledging.

The Chesapeake Bay may sit in the middle of Maryland but six states sit in the bay's 64,000 square miles of watershed. For decades, most of those states have pledged to help.

"To reduce nitrogen, phosphorous and sedimentary flow," said Governor Martin O'Malley.

They've done so again in a new bay agreement, which comes as some past promises begin to show results.

Take the release of raw sewage. Treatment plants are being improved, thanks to self-imposed goals and deadlines set by bay states and enforced by the EPA. Waste from livestock and agricultural runoff are also works in progress, although it's been slower going.

But the new agreement is taking on additional challenges.

"Now they need to layer on what they're going to do for the critters like oysters and crabs, climate change, environmental literacy, toxics," said Alison Prost, Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is pleased the states say they will do all that on top of what's already happening.

"But people need to know what's going to happen in their community. What difference are they going to see on the ground?" Prost said.

Potentially the largest difference is reducing storm runoff from hard, man-made surfaces.

"There was broad consensus that all the states put forward their plans within the next 90 days," O'Malley said.

The current bay agreement holds to a deadline of 2025 to restore the bay to health.

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