這個訴訟計畫聲明（notice of intent to sue）是建基於「淨水法（the Clean Water Act）」裡賦予公民對環保署提起訴訟的權利。
馬里蘭州船夫協會（Maryland Watermen's Association）理事長西姆士（Larry Simns）船長表示：「我們之所以這麼做是因為已經走投無路了。大家都一直在宣導清理這個海灣，但一直沒有成效。現已到關鍵時刻，除非開始採取行動，否則就會完全失去這個海灣。」
科學家已確認，2008年是這個海灣自1985年成為死亡海域（dead zone）以來第四嚴重的一年。死亡海域的形成是營養物質從廢水處理廠、農業排水及其他來源進入這個海灣，刺激藻類大量繁殖形成藻華（blooms of algae）而來的。當這些藻類死亡後沈入海灣底部並進行分解，會將水域中的氧氣用掉。2008年這個海灣死海區域已有超過10個月時間僅殘存非常少量的氧氣，並且在7月的時候，有40%的海灣主要幹流（mainstems）受到影響。缺乏氧氣會殺死魚類及藍蟹（blue crabs），或使其遠離偏好的棲息地。
維吉尼亞州船夫協會（Virginia Watermen's Association）理事長史密斯（Ken Smith）表示：「乞沙比克灣和支流持續惡化的情形已經到了緊要關頭，必須採取劇烈手段來改善水質。」
Watermen in two states, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and five other parties today notified the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that they intend to go to federal court to force the agency to require pollution reduction in the waters of Chesapeake Bay, the national largest estuary.
Today's notice of intent to sue is required for any citizen lawsuit against the EPA to enforce the Clean Water Act.
"We are doing this because we're backed into a corner. We've all been preaching to clean the bay up, with no results," said Captain Larry Simns president of the Maryland Watermen's Association. "We're at a crucial point here. Unless we do something now we're going to lose the bay completely."
Scientists have determined that this year the bay suffered the fourth worst dead zone since 1985. Dead zones happen when nutrients from sewage treatment plants, agricultural runoff and other sources enter the bay and stimulate blooms of algae. When these algae die they sink to the bottom and decompose, removing oxygen from the water.
Dead zones have left too little oxygen in the bay over 10 months of the year, and in July, 40 percent of the bay's mainstem was affected. Lack of oxygen kills fish and blue crabs or drives them from their preferred habitat.
The Chesapeake Bay's crab population is near historic lows. As a result, Maryland and Virginia have had to severely limit the commercial crab harvest, putting hundreds of watermen out of work.
"The continuing degradation of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries has reached the point that it is imperative that dramatic measures be taken to improve water quality," said Virginia Watermen's Association President Ken Smith.
"Over the last 35 years, the number of working watermen in Virginia has dropped from 8,000 to less than 3,000," Smith said. "Pollution is robbing us of our livelihood, our way of life, and the ability of our children to carry on a proud tradition."
"Over the last 25 years Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts have been littered with promises broken and commitments unfulfilled," said William Baker, president of the 40 year old nonprofit Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which works to restore and protect the bay and its tributary rivers.
"It is time that EPA either step up to the plate, or be held legally accountable for its failure to comply with the law and fulfill the commitment to reduce pollution sufficiently to have the Bay removed from the federal dirty waters list by 2010," Baker said.
The EPA has admitted that with current programs and policies in place, that goal will not be achieved. Officials are now discussing pushing the Bay clean-up goal back another 12 years.