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USGS Scientists Receive EPA Gold Medal for Chesapeake Science Efforts

June 6, 2019

Several U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists have been chosen to receive a 2018 National U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Gold Medal for their outstanding efforts as members of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Midpoint Assessment team.

The team was recognized for assessing progress under the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, incorporating cutting-edge scientific information and tools into collaborative decision-making, and ensuring unprecedented local engagement in accelerating implementation.

The Chesapeake Bay TMDL was established in 2010 to reduce nutrient and sediment inputs to the Chesapeake Bay. Excess nutrients have caused algal blooms, which deplete the oxygen needed by fish, crabs, and oysters. The algal blooms, along with sediment, decrease the light needed for underwater grasses that provide food for waterfowl and habitat for fisheries. All pollution reduction practices must be in place by 2025. A midpoint assessment was conducted during 2014–2018 to assess if efforts were on track and to provide new science to help the Chesapeake Bay States update their watershed implementation plans. 

The USGS increased its science efforts to support the midpoint assessment, including the following:

  • Increased monitoring of nutrients and sediment throughout the Chesapeake watershed,
  • Developed new techniques to analyze status and trends of nutrients and sediment,
  • Used innovative approaches to explain changes in nutrients and sediment and their response to management efforts,
  • Improved land-cover and land-use information and forecasted changes on the basis of population growth, and
  • Provided scientific findings toward the enhancement of a revised Chesapeake watershed model.

Over 30 USGS scientists conducted activities to support the efforts listed above. The USGS scientists who are co-located at the Chesapeake Bay Program Office helped lead aspects of the midpoint assessment, which led to the awards for: Peter Claggett, Gary Shenk, Peter Tango, Scott Phillips, and John Wolf.


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