Achieving water quality goals in the Chesapeake Bay: A comprehensive evaluation of system response

Edited by: Kurt Stephenson and Denice Wardrop



A Comprehensive Evaluation of System Response

Achieving Water Quality Goals in the Chesapeake Bay: A Comprehensive Evaluation of System Response (CESR) includes an evaluation of why progress toward meeting the TMDL and water quality standards has been slower than expected and offers options for how progress can be accelerated. This report is a summation of a three year investigation into the 40 year effort to reduce nutrient loads to Chesapeake Bay.


The effort began as a STAC independent initiative in March 2019, after Kurt Stephenson, Zach Easton, and Brian Benham proposed the idea of a report that would identify gaps and uncertainties in system response—physical, chemical, biological, and socioeconomic—that impact efforts designed to attain water quality standards in Chesapeake Bay. As STAC Chair at the time, Benham facilitated the development of a collaborative process that would engage the entire committee. As a first step in approaching the long causal chain that links management actions to their eventual impact on water quality and living resources, workgroups were formed around the subsystems of this chain: nutrient and sediment reductions (watershed), water quality response to nutrient and sediment reductions (estuary) and living resource response to water quality (living resources). Each of these workgroups generated an independent document with a self-determined scope (i.e., workgroups were afforded flexibility to address issues beyond the original objectives). Because the content of each document was both unique and substantial, STAC chose to publish them as stand-alone documents with authorship attribution.

In the second step, a steering committee developed a series of framing questions to guide the preparation of this report that would meet the objective of identifying gaps and uncertainties in achieving the Bay TMDL and water quality standards. Coeditors Stephenson and Wardrop, supported to great extent by a subgroup of the Steering Committee (Leonard Shabman, Zach Easton, Jeremy Testa, William Dennison, Kenny Rose, and Mark Monaco) were tasked with assembling ideas and contributions to write a single draft text, drawing material from the aforementioned resource documents, STAC and Chesapeake Bay Program reports, the scientific literature, and a limited amount of additional analyses performed in collaboration with Bay Program scientists. The resulting report was then submitted for several reviews by both steering committee members and the membership at-large to produce a consensus report.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Organization Series
Title Achieving water quality goals in the Chesapeake Bay: A comprehensive evaluation of system response
Series number 23-006
Year Published 2023
Language English
Publisher Chesapeake Bay Program
Contributing office(s) WMA - Earth System Processes Division, Florence Bascom Geoscience Center, Eastern Ecological Science Center
Description xvii, 115 p.
Country United States
State Maryland, Virginia
Other Geospatial Chesapeake Bay
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details