MARTINSBURG - The draft of West Virginia's Phase II Watershed Implementation Plan is open for public comment, state Department of Environmental Protection officials announced recently.
Called WIP II, it is West Virginia's plan to comply with new pollution limits imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through its Chesapeake Bay restoration initiative.
Last year, EPA released stringent limits on the amount of nutrients, that is nitrogen and phosphorus, and sediment pollution that can get into the bay through its tributaries.
The greater, eight-county Eastern Panhandle is in the Potomac River watershed, and the Potomac is one of the bay's major tributaries.
Phase II builds on the first phase of the WIP, which was submitted in September 2010, but WIP II offers specifics about how local jurisdictions will reach the goals outlined in the first phase, explained Matthew Pennington, Region 9 Chesapeake Bay Program coordinator.
For example, Pennington said that Phase II lays out how homeowners can cut down on the amount of nutrients that are washed off their lawns into local streams during storms by reducing the amount of fertilizer they use on their yards.
He presented an update on the Chesapeake Bay program during Region 9 Planning and Development Council's meeting Monday afternoon. Region 9 encompasses Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties.
The Chesapeake Bay restoration initiative has dominated much of Region 9's work plan for the past couple of years.
Storm water runoff is one of the areas targeted by EPA to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution.
Other areas that have been targeted are waste water treatment plants, land development and agriculture.
According to the introduction to WIP II, the entire agriculture section of Phase I has been rewritten. West Virginia's plans to reduce pollution from agricultural operations was one of the sections that was severely criticized by the EPA's review of Phase I.