A panel of Chesapeake Bay area legislators decided today to try drawing New York, Delaware and West Virginia into the bay cleanup.
The Chesapeake Bay Commission, whose members are legislators from Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, agreed at its meeting in Annapolis to invite officials from those neighboring states to the commission's next meeting in Harrisburg, Pa., in May.
The commission's decision was prompted by a new study showing that New York, Delaware and West Virginia, which are not parties to the 1987 bay cleanup agreement, are responsible for 15 to 20 percent of the nutrients polluting the bay.
The study, a re-evaluation of the nutrient-reduction goal set in the 1987 pact, suggests it may be impossible to bring back depleted grasses, fish and wildlife unless the cleanup effort is vastly expanded to include air pollution and the states upstream of the bay's major river tributaries.
Robert Perciasepe, Maryland's environment secretary who is overseeing the re-evaluation, said the sophisticated computer modeling study is preliminary.
But Del. James E. McClellan, D-W.Md., urged the commission to open discussions with officials from those upstream states now on how they might help restore the bay.
Noting that the bay states once rebuffed Delaware's bid to join the multistate cleanup program, McClellan said: "Now let's spread some of the blame."
William Matuszeski, director of the Environmental Protection Agency's bay office, cautioned that the computer study may be overstating pollution from New York, Delaware and West Virginia.
The cornerstone of the 1987 bay agreement was a pledge to reduce nutrients entering the bay by 40 percent by the year 2000.
Perciasepe said the study suggests that if the bay states reduce nitrogen and phosphorus by 40 percent, then the bay's water quality could improve by 10 to 25 percent, which he said is "significant and may be enough" to restore the bay's living resources.
But Ann Pesiri Swanson, the bay commission's executive director, said the computer does not take into account that many cleanup laws and programs are not completely effective.