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