In December of 2014, President Barack Obama signed the Chesapeake Bay Accountability and Recovery Act (CBARA) into law. This act requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to submit an annual report on federal and state funding toward environmental restoration in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Under this act, the OMB was required to include all Chesapeake Bay restoration activities that cost at least $300,000 during the first three years (2014-2017). Starting in 2018 and for every year thereafter, the report must include all Chesapeake Bay activities that cost at least $100,000.

In December of 2023, the OMB issued its eighth Chesapeake Bay Restoration Spending Crosscut, which indicates state and federal partners budgeted about $2.2 billion for watershed restoration in fiscal 2023, including $231 million in Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act (IIJA) funds. Due to data uncertainties and constraints around time and resources, the estimates this crosscut provides may differ from the funding that ultimately supports environmental restoration. For instance, because fiscal 2023 totals were reported before the end of the fiscal year, these totals may reflect only a partial snapshot of program implementation.

The Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act (IIJA), signed into law in November of 2021, resulted in a historic investment of federal funds that will provide important benefits to the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay watershed for many years. Fiscal year 2023 marks the second of five years of dedicated IIJA funding, described separately below.

Investments in restoration benefit all watershed states and support fishing, tourism, recreation, real estate, agriculture and shipping economies. An analysis from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, for instance, found that putting the “pollution diet” in place—which is just one piece of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement—would provide annual benefits worth $129.7 billion: more than 59 times the investments cited in the 2023 Chesapeake Bay Restoration Spending Crosscut.

NOAA’s 2019 Fisheries Economics of the United States Report highlights some of these economic benefits. In 2019, for instance, the commercial seafood industry accounted for $6 billion in sales, $1.4 billion in income and an estimated 42,000 jobs in Maryland and Virginia. According to national expenditures detailed in the 2022 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation report and based on the percentage of the U.S. population in 2023 residing in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, annual wildlife watching expenditures were an estimated $13.7 billion, annual recreational fishing expenditures were an estimated $5.4 billion, and annual hunting expenditures were an estimated $2.5 billion.

Federal Spending

According to the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Spending Crosscut, six of the seven agencies that make up the Federal Leadership Committee for the Chesapeake Bay—including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security and the Interior—allocated $491 million in watershed restoration in fiscal 2023, separately from the IIJA funds. You can download more information about how these agencies allocated these funds or open the Spending Crosscut to review the caveats that may be associated with the totals federal agencies reported to the Office of Management and Budget.

Non-IIJA federal agency funding for watershed restoration in fiscal 2023 marked a 9.2% decrease from the allocations of the previous fiscal year. This total is 7.4% lower than the fiscal 2024 President’s Budget.

More than two-thirds of the $92 million U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Chesapeake Bay Program funds are directed toward state governments, local governments and other partners to help them meet the goals of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (Bay TMDL) and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement. The remaining Chesapeake Bay Program funds support the operation of the Chesapeake Bay Program office; the coordination of data collection and scientific research, monitoring and modeling; reporting on the quality of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem; and outreach to enhance environmental stewardship. Additional Environmental Protection Agency funds are directed toward jurisdictions through non-point source grants, pollution control grants and infrastructure assistance grants.

Under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Natural Resources Conservation Service funds conservation easement programs and provides technical and financial assistance to farmers and other private landowners to support the implementation of conservation practices on working lands. The U.S. Forest Service provides technical assistance and project funds to promote the establishment and retention of forests on non-Forest Service lands through the Forest Stewardship Program, in urban areas through the Urban and Community Forestry Program and on conservation easements on forest land through the Forest Legacy Program. It also provides for the management of National Forests. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Agricultural Research Service, Economic Research Service, Farm Service Agency, National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Office of the Chief Economist provide additional watershed support.

Under the U.S. Department of Commerce, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration funds scientific research in the fields of tidal and coastal fisheries and aquatic habitats—including oyster reefs—and syntheses and analyses to predict and describe ecosystem processes. The agency also funds the development of environmental science education programs, the delivery of advice and technical assistance to decision-makers, the maintenance of the Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System and the preparation of coastal communities in protecting natural and human-made infrastructure.

The U.S. Department of Defense funds regional operations and maintenance that support the prevention of stormwater runoff, upgrades to wastewater treatment plants, water quality monitoring, land conservation, natural resources planning and management, and environmental outreach and stewardship. Under the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers supports small- and large-scale studies and design and construction projects that benefit habitats and fisheries.

Under the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Geological Survey funds the generation of scientific information about fish, wildlife and their relation to water quality, habitat and land conditions. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service funds strategic conservation to connect people with nature and create sustainable watershed capable of supporting fish, wildlife and plants. The National Park Service funds the protection of habitat, the creation of public access and the promotion of tourism.

Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

In addition to the regular funds budgeted by federal agencies, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act allocated $231 million to watershed restoration in 2023 across four federal agencies including $221 million for EPA, $6.9 million for the Department of Agriculture, $2.3 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and $1.2 million for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. When combined with the $491 million previously allocated to federal agencies, $722 million in federal funds are supporting the protection and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed.

IIJA Directed Funds

In 2023, $41.2 million of the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program infrastructure funding was provided to three congressionally directed grant programs: Small Watershed Grants (SWG; $13 million), Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants (INSR: $8 million) and CWA Sec. 117 State Implementation Grants ($20.2 million). For the 2023 reporting period, $9.8 million of IIJA funding has been competitively awarded through the SWG program, while $7.7 million of IIJA funding has been competitively awarded through INSR Grants program. The $20.2 million directed for CWA Sec. 117 State Implementation Grants was non-competitively awarded through state grant allocations and includes $15 million for Most Effective Basins funding. Additionally, 2023 IIJA funds leveraged $16.5 million in non-federal match.

State Spending

The seven watershed jurisdictions—Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia—reported allocating an estimated $1.5 billion in watershed restoration through state programs in fiscal 2023.

State program funding for watershed restoration in fiscal 2023 was a 23% increase from the allocations of the previous fiscal year. This total is 22% less than the estimated fiscal 2024 budget.

EPA Grant Funding

In addition to receiving funding from other federal agencies, in 2023 watershed jurisdictions received an estimated $38.9 million from the EPA through Section 117 of the Clean Water Act, which includes implementation and regulatory and accountability grants and specific funding directed to Watershed Implementation Plans, local governments, monitoring and sub-awards for green infrastructure and tools to aid jurisdictions in prioritizing preservation. Leveraged funds and in-kind support from grantee match totaled $38.9 million.

In 2023, watershed jurisdictions benefited from additional EPA Chesapeake Bay Program funding provided through congressionally directed grant programs. The Small Watershed Grants program distributed approximately $9 million and the Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants program distributed approximately $8.4 million. An estimated $34.6 million in leveraged funds from these three grant programs came from other federal agencies, private organizations and grantee match. These EPA grant funds are currently administered and leveraged by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Download the data file to view funding for previous years.

These direct grants are competitively awarded and directed to support specific programs and projects and leverage additional funding from other federal programs and private funding sources along with the required grantee match. The total amounts by jurisdiction are $1,390,048 for Delaware, $2,060,000 for the District of Columbia, $11,303,198 for Maryland, $423,682 for New York, $15,387,048 for Pennsylvania, $20,888,584 for Virginia, and $504,331 for West Virginia.

The "Non-competitive Grant Funding" shown represents the combined amounts allocated to the watershed jurisdictions and described more fully in the “State Grant Allocations” chart. This includes funds directed towards Most Effective Basins in each jurisdiction. "Competitive Grant Funding" represents the combined annual amount watershed jurisdictions benefited from EPA's Small Watershed Grants and Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants. These amounts are further described in the “Chesapeake Bay Directed Funds” chart. "Leveraged Funding" represents the grant recipient match, including in-kind support, for both competitive and non-competitive grants awarded through Section 117 of the Clean Water Act (in whole dollars) and additional funds leveraged by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. This reflects the capacity of EPA Chesapeake Bay Program grants to stimulate additional funding resources directed to the protection and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Future Reporting

A call for funding data to support the next Chesapeake Bay Restoration Spending Crosscut will be made in the summer of 2024.