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(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!
The reports from the University of Maryland scientists appointed by the Administration were kept from us and the public until just before the announcement of the proposals for regulations. These scientists recommended much more than was incorporated into the regulations and noted that the EPA’s Bay Program found that farm animal manure is responsible for 24 percent of the phosphorus (this is more than all the municipal WWTPs and industrial dischargers) and 15 percent of the nitrogen flowing to and choking the Bay. This does not include the atmospheric contribution of nitrogen from the volatilization of manure and fertilizer, and subsequent atmospheric deposition of the nitrates estimated at 7% of total bay nitrogen. Septic tanks Baywide are somewhere around 3 percent of the nitrogen, near zero of the phosphorus and for Maryland it’s 6 percent of the nitrogen and near zero of the phosphorous.
Please see our letter to the Governor’s Bay Cabinet urging action on new regulations. The new regulations ignore our science-based recommendations to conform chicken manure and other animal waste and nutrients placed on farm fields with the 1985 requirements for treated human sludge including: prohibition on winter application after November 1, better buffer requirements including a 100′ buffer in the Critical Area, and a prohibition on the application of manure and other nutrients with phosphorus when the soils are already super-saturated with phosphorus. Also rejected was a requirement that there be adequate monitoring and enforcement of the Nutrient Management Regulations, which is currently lacking.
It’s hard to win when you are playing against a stacked deck.
Also see the letter from two full-time working farmers on the need for better nutrient management regulations and in support of our positions.