After decades of effort, the voluntary, collaborative approach to restoring the health and vitality of the Chesapeake Bay— the largest estuary in the United States—has not worked and, in fact, is failing. A diverse group of 57 senior scientists and policymakers have joined forces to save the Bay. This is our plan.

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Category Archives: Agriculture

Perdue: More oysters, not less fertilizer, are solution …

Perdue: More oysters, not less fertilizer, are solution …

In a recent Baltimore Sun B’More Green blog, Mr. Jim Perdue was interviewed about his vision for the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay. http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/green/blog/bal-gr-perdue-more-oysters-not-less-fertilizer-are-solution-for-bay-cleanup-20160927-story.html
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OPINION/EDITORIAL

Mr. Perdue is attempting to deflect attention away from the Eastern Shore but as long as agricultural pollution remains the number 1 source of pollution to our waterways in Maryland we must keep a spotlight on the Eastern Shore. While, as Mr. Perdue points out, only 8% of the water flowing into the Chesapeake Bay is coming from the Eastern Shore, our rivers are carrying a disproportionate heavy load of agricultural pollutants to not just the Bay, but also my Coastal Bays and all the little creeks in between.
Chesapeake Bay Program 2013 data, on their Mid-Point Assessment Tracking Tool website, show that the vast majority of the counties on the Eastern Shore are applying manure to grain in excess of the crop recommendation, including several times more than is recommended in places like Sussex County DE and Wicomico County MD. This historic over application of manures precipitated the need for the Phosphorous Management Tool (PMT) in Maryland with efforts to curb the land application of phosphorus/nitrogen rich manures that are fouling our waterways.

The most recent FIV data from the Maryland PMT Advisory Committee is compelling – with only 50% of the lower shore farmers reporting, the data shows 56% of those fields have a FIV over 150, and 11% of those fields have a FIV over 500. With 67% of only half the fields showing excess phosphorus, clearly we need the PMT. But only 50% of Wicomico, Worcester & Somerset farmers have yet to report and MDE is struggling to get these voluntary reports submitted. Perhaps Perdue and the other integrators could assist their farmer-partners to comply?

The top two most important BMPs for the Chesapeake Bay Program to nail down, according to their own report in September , are Animal Waste Management Systems and Nutrient Management Plans because these two have such a large impact on loads and the Bay model cannot be properly calibrated without getting the science down first on loads associated with these two BMPs.

Now with the expansion of the poultry industry on the Eastern Shore, Maryland is desperately trying to find ways to manage this excess manure, awarding a $25M subsidy to a municipal scale manure digester power plant in Somerset County and attempting to overhaul its Manure Transport Program to see exactly where the excess manure is being moved around.

Industrial factory farms on the Eastern Shore are adding additional impacts to our water by way of nitrogen deposition from ammonia emissions in addition to the manure runoff pollution, at a time when other sectors are trying to reduce their pollution, yet the State this past year removed critical water quality monitors from our Eastern Shore rivers, and despite heavy ammonia emission loads to our air, there are no air quality monitors on the lower shore.

Mr. Perdue should tell Marylanders the whole story here. If we don’t stop the pollution at the source, no amount of oyster restoration is going to filter our Bays, creeks and rivers back to health.

Kathy Phillips
Executive Director/Assateague COASTKEEPER
Assateague Coastal Trust
PO Box 731, Berlin, MD 21811

Ag Certainty: Making Certain that the Bay Remains Polluted

With Ag Certainty, we’ve just thrown a “critical” part of the TMDL out the window; the only real “certainty” that remains is that we’ll all be sitting down in 2025 again and try to come up with the next, great plan to clean up the Bay.Continue Reading

The Hudson/Perdue Chicken Waste Case — What We’ve Already Learned

A decision is expected soon in the highly publicized federal lawsuit Waterkeepers Alliance, Inc., vs. Alan and Kristen Hudson Farm and Perdue Farms, Inc. The outcome is anyone’s guess, but already testimony from the trial has made clear that Maryland’s effort to oversee and enforce nutrient management plans needs more muscle.Continue Reading

The Fictional War on Family Farmers

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No more half-measures for the bay: O’Malley administration’s proposed regulations on agricultural waste aren’t strong enough

After 28 years of formal efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the single most successful efforts have been in curbing bay-choking nutrient pollutants from sewerage treatment plants, so-called “point sources” from pipes. Maryland has been a leader in these efforts with passage of the Flush Tax in 2004 and its extension in 2012. This will assure that 69 of the largest Maryland plants will be removing both phosphorus and nitrogen to very low levels, approaching the limits of technology. These efforts are paid for by most Marylanders by fees on water and sewer bills.Continue Reading

Weak Regulation of Manure Proposed

(Posted by Gerald Winegrad)

The Maryland Department of Agriculture announced the development of weakened proposed regulations that are well short of the positions advocated by the Senior Scientists and Policymakers for the Bay to address the pollution from millions of tons of chicken and other farm animal manure that is poisoning ground and surface waters. Some key elements of the proposals don’t even go into effect until 2016, allowing four more years to do just some of what has been required for land application of treated human sludge since 1985!

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