What is a BMP?

Maryland and surrounding states are undergoing a massive effort to clean up the Chesapeake Bay by reducing the pollution that goes into it. A core aspect of that cleanup on the land happens through best management practices, called BMPs for short. A best management practice is defined as a practice or combination of practices determined to be an effective means of reducing pollution generated by nonpoint sources (nonpoint sources of pollution are caused by water moving over or through the ground, which picks up pollution particles as it moves, eventually reaching the Chesapeake Bay or local tributaries). Best management practices can be implemented by a wide variety of entities, including a private property and business owners, farms, local and state government, and nongovernmental organizations.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program, loading estimates are used to quantify expected amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment to water from specific land uses or point sources. Installing best management practices is one of the top ways to meet Watershed Implementation Plans, which are required as part of Chesapeake Bay cleanup. Pollution reduction progress is adjusted based on the estimated effectiveness of the installed best management practices.

Best management practices vary widely in type and application, and some on this site labeled as “Interim” have yet to be officially approved by a panel of BMP experts but are still known as practices that either reduce nutrients (nitrogen or phosphorus) or sediment.

On this website, best management practices are split into three main sections — Agriculture, Urban and Trees/Forest. For example, in the Agriculture category, some practices are best paired with plant or animal production. In the Urban category, some practices specifically aim to treat stormwater pollution, while others are specifically designed for wastewater pollution reduction.

The nutrient reduction estimations found in this website’s BMP entries reflect the best available science currently in use.