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Chesapeake Bay

About the Chesapeake Bay Guide

  • The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in North America and has historically produced abundant quantities of plant and sea life.  The Chesapeake Bay watershed, which includes the rivers, creeks, and streams that flow into the Chesapeake Bay, covers over 64,000 square miles and ranges across New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.
  • Concerned over protecting the Nation’s waters, in 1948, Congress established the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.  In 1972, Congress amended the Water Pollution Control Act through the passage of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and significantly expanded federal control and regulation over applicable waters.   
    • Under CWA, Congress stated that its intended purpose “is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.” To accomplish that purpose, CWA requires that each state establish a “total maximum daily load” (TMDL) of pollutants that may enter certain waterbodies.   Additionally, CWA requires that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approve or disapprove each state’s TMDL.  If EPA disapproves a state’s TMDL, EPA is required to create a TMDL for that state. 
  • This guide is intended to represent a collection of legal resources relating to CWA and EPA’s regulation of the Chesapeake Bay and the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  While the Center for Agricultural and Shale Law makes every effort to maintain and update the content furnished in this guide, no warranty or other guarantee is made regarding the timeliness or accuracy of any information provided.  

For more information, please contact the Guide Author, Sean High, Staff Attorney at The Center for Agricultural and Shale Law.  

Phone: (814) 865-5017


The Center for Agricultural and Shale Law

Penn State Law

The Pennsylvania State University

329 Innovation Blvd., Suite 118

University Park, PA 16803

Phone: (814) 865-4290

Fax: (814) 865-3851