EPA pollution regs threaten area farmers

NORWICH – All but two percent of Chenango County’s dairy farmers could be put out of business because the Chesapeake Bay’s pollution diet is not meeting the federal government’s water quality standards.

Chenango County lawmakers are expediting a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and to all of the state’s representatives expressing opposition to the regulatory proposal. The EPA would limit levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment flowing from the Susquehanna River by 2025, and require 60 percent implementation of its Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) standards by 2017.

The public comment period for all states in the watershed ends November 8, with the EPA’s standards finalized by Dec. 31. Chenango County Soil and Water Conservation District Director Robert DeClue told members of a county committee Tuesday that improvements authorized by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation have and are being made, but most likely won’t be fast enough to meet the EPA’s deadline at the end of this year.

“It’s like a train. It doesn’t stop on a dime,” he said.

The federal government’s water quality standards were created as part of a legal settlement between EPA and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

New York’s sediment run off isn’t a concern and the state will be able achieve TMDL standards for phosphorus. It’s nitrogen that’s the problem. With the 10.54 million pounds of nitrogen delivered from New York to the Bay’s watershed currently, reaching the EPA’s 8.23 million pound mark by 2025 will be the biggest challenge.

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