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: Science

Maryland Clean Water Legislation Awaits Committee Votes

(Posted by Gerald Winegrad)

Maryland’s 2012 General Assembly Session is now more than halfway over, and while elected officials are currently focused on the state’s budget, several pieces of important Chesapeake Bay legislation that would help clean up our waters await committee votes.

Today the Executive Council of the Senior Scientists and Policymakers for the Bay delivered this letter to key legislators in support of the following legislation that is in line with our 25-step “action plan,”  specifically with respect to science-based recommendations to control agricultural pollution, foster clean development, upgrade septic systems, and improve wastewater treatment plants:

  • Reduce pollution from the spreading of animal waste on farm fields (Senate Bill 594)–See my recent Baltimore Sun op-ed and Will Morrow’s letter to the editor on the need for this legislation.
  • Finish upgrading the wastewater treatment plants that Maryland has already committed to upgrade with enhanced revenues from the Bay Restoration Fund (Senate Bill 240 / House Bill 446)
  • Ensure that local governments have resources to reduce polluted stormwater runoff and that they implement their local clean water plans (Senate Bill 614 / House Bill 987)
  • Reduce pollution from poorly planned development by limiting new septic systems (Senate Bill 236 / House Bill 445)
  • Require that all wastewater discharges, including septic systems, are treated at the level of best available technology to protect public health and ensure clean water (Through Amendments to Senate Bill 236 / House Bill 445 or by Regulation)

Goodlatte Again Attempts to Block Bay Restoration Efforts

(Posted by Gerald Winegrad)

In his continuing efforts to undermine Chesapeake Bay restoration, Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) has introduced HR 4153 along with Rep. Tim Holden (D-Penn.). The legislation is another attempt to prevent the EPA from implementing the long-awaited, court-ordered Chesapeake Bay restoration plan known as the Chesapeake TMDL (total maximum daily load). The pollution diet under the TMDL was necessitated by the Bay states’ repeated failures over decades to meet agreed upon reductions for nutrient and sediment pollutants so as to clean-up the 90% of the Bay that is so polluted that the Clean Water Act is violated. Continue Reading

‘We Must Preserve an Economic Asset’

(This ninth installment in our series, What’s It Going to Take?, looks at how the environmental community can regain the initiative and build the political will necessary to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.)

In this exclusive interview with the Bay Action Plan, Chesapeake Bay Program Director Nick DiPasquale says that the costs of cleaning the Chesapeake Bay are significant, but manageable.

“No time is a good time when you’re talking about trying to implement very costly pollution control measures,” DiPasquale said. “But when you spread that cost over the life of a project… you find that the cost to individual households is a few dollars a month. Compare it to cellphone or cable costs, it puts things into perspective.”

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3 Good Science News Stories

(Posted by Dawn Stoltzfus.)

A quick note on some recent great Chesapeake Bay science news in the press —

1)      The Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences’ data show that underwater grasses (or submerged aquatic vegetation) in the Susquehanna Flats survived Hurricanes Irene and Tropical Storm Lee much better than was originally feared. Underwater grasses are essential for aquatic life and are often a sign of healthy waters.
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O’Malley Piles On

(Posted by Tom Horton.)

Governor Martin O’Malley presumably thinks he’s helping Maryland poultry growers and processors by pressuring the University of Maryland’s environmental law clinic to drop out of a lawsuit aimed at stopping chicken farms from polluting.

But the pollution is real, it’s substantial and it’s not going to get better until the governor and agricultural interests acknowledge we have a problem with too much poultry manure.Continue Reading

Protecting the “Most Important Fish in the Sea”

(Posted by Gerald Winegrad.)

Conservationists have been working for seven years to gain conservation measures for menhaden. This species plays an important role in the Chesapeake Bay’s ecosystem as a filter feeder, as a critical prey species for other fish and for piscivorous (fish-eating) birds. That’s why this keystone species has been called the most important fish in the sea.

After the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission 2010 stock assessment found that menhaden are at their lowest point on record, the group is on the brink of adopting historic coast-wide conservation measures for this over-fished species. Yesterday, a group of 30 Chesapeake Bay leaders sent this letter to ASMFC urging restrictions on fishing this critical species.
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