The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced (Dec. 14) that it is providing $3.7 million to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) to implement best management practices (BMPs) on agricultural lands in Pennsylvania’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The practices are to help reduce the loads of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution going to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
In an interesting tie-in, Zephyr’s own Lou Corio told his story, Back-to-the-Future: Some Research Predictions Do Come True!, in the Winter 2014 issue of our Currents newsletter how he began his career assisting the Maryland Power Plant Research Program (PPRP) in researching the effectiveness of approaches to reducing acid rain. The results of this research were to be used by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Department of the Environment (MDE) to formulate environmental policy and inform lawmakers in matters regarding the control of air pollutant sources.
Soon after enactment of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA), the PPRP asked Mr. Corio to assess the potential benefit of regulation of the deposition of atmospheric nitrates to the Chesapeake Bay – excess levels of nitrates and other nutrients had been degrading the quality of the Bay’s waters and the health of its ecosystems for years. He was charged with projecting reductions in nitrate deposition to the Bay out to 2010 due to implementation of provisions of the 1990 CAAA. To his surprise the data showed that aggressive implementation of the Act’s provisions – provisions that were not envisioned with the direct goal of improving Chesapeake Bay water quality – could reduce nitrogen deposition to the Bay by as much as 47 percent from 1990 baseline levels. Given this result, Mr. Corio quickly concluded that the 1990 CAAA were important to the Chesapeake Bay.
Fast forward to October 2013. University of Maryland researchers had just published a study on the historic trend in measurements of atmospheric nitrogen deposition and nitrate loadings between 1986 and 2009 in the Bay watershed. Their analysis of the data showed an average reduction of 34 percent in the wet deposition of nitrogen, with some parts of the watershed experiencing a reduction of about 50 percent. Also, they concluded that dry deposition of nitrogen dropped by about 40 percent over the entire mid-Atlantic region between 1989 and 2009. The researchers credited the 1990 CAAA with the measured reductions, pointing to air pollution controls as one of the most effective tools in helping to improve the Bay water quality. As stated by the study’s lead author, “Here the Clean Air Act has caused something to happen that’s wonderful and good news and completely unanticipated.” Well, maybe not unanticipated by everyone.
It’s rare in this field to see confirmation of one’s predictions decades after the work was conducted. To know that such research, which had been used to shape nutrient level reduction strategies for the Bay, yielded such accurate results is not only validation of that project work but validation of a career as well!
The full EPA release is available at: EPA Awards $3.7 Million to Pennsylvania for Chesapeake Bay Restoration
Click here to read Mr. Corio’s full story: Back-to-the-Future: Some Research Predictions Do Come True!
Louis A. Corio
Senior Technical Specialist
Mr. Corio is a Senior Technical Specialist and Meteorologist in Zephyr’s Columbia, Maryland office with 34 years of environmental consulting experience, with particular focus on air quality. He has significant experience with all aspects of air quality permitting and related activities, including New Source Review (PSD and nonattainment) and Title V permitting, atmospheric dispersion model development, evaluation, and application; Risk Management Program and Plan development; utility/industry facility environmental audits; and risk assessment. Mr. Corio has directed/conducted technical research projects on complex air quality issues (e.g., condensable particulate matter (PM) measurement methods and issues). He has developed guidance documents for trade organizations on new rules, such as Title V operating permits and Risk Management Plans. Mr. Corio has provided public hearing support and testimony in Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) proceedings on power plant licensing. He holds both a M.S. and B.S. degrees in Meteorology from the University of Maryland and Rutgers University – Cook College, respectively.
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