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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Tag Archives: Fred-Tutman

No More Bay Business As Usual

(Posted by Fred Tutman.)

(This is fourth in an ongoing series of posts on What’s It Going to Take?: A look at how the environmental community can regain the initiative and build the political will necessary to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.)
Whats It Going to Take?

Who doesn’t want to see our Bay, rivers, or streams restored to health? So it raises the legitimate question of why something coveted by so many, continues to elude us? The irony is that virtually everybody wants clean water until they have to actually sacrifice or take proportional measures in order to get it. Sure, clean water is great as long we can win the next election, make the maximum profit on the next construction job, maintain the waterfront view, get jobs and economic development, and if nobody will get upset.

Let’s face it, building rain gardens, planting trees, and conducting trash cleanups next to the river simply don’t compensate for all the chicken manure, poorly regulated sewage plants, coal waste and stormwater runoff pouring into our streams and rivers. Do the water quality losses outweigh the gains? The deplorable state of our region’s waterways suggests that is exactly the case. It seems somehow that perfectly good environmental programs have become an end unto themselves instead of a means toward an end. As long as all stakeholders do no more than is expedient while mouthing the best of intentions, then the status quo continues even when the best that we are collectively inclined to do voluntarily is insufficient. So, what’s it going to take to clean up the Bay? Literally speaking, making protection of water compulsory, since voluntary hasn’t worked.

And for those who argue that cleaning up the environment will cost us jobs and economic development–what was the first clue that our economy is affected by both prudent and poor stewardship of natural resources? It has always been obvious that wrecking the waterways is a faster and easier “buck” than protecting them. Our big tactical mistake as an environmental community is to have given folks the impression that they can have clean water without changing business as usual; while maintaining jobs that pollute; and by adopting a collaborative posture with enterprises that inherently profit from pollution. As a result, when we try and propose genuine solutions that are proportional to the environmental problems, our adversaries act as though we pulled the rug out from under them.

It is simply not possible to clean up the Bay if we generally promote good news as a lure to make the public feel positive about what is being done.

Truthfully, the only changes that will be reflected in measurable water quality gains are the ones that are compulsory and that require systemic reforms. The sort of change that at times disrupts accustomed ways of doing business, how we lead our daily lives, and make our money. Isn’t it interesting that on the eve of the implementing the watershed implementation plans and the long awaited “Total Maximum Daily Loads” that various industry groups are filing challenges, declining to participate, and crying foul? It reveals at last that while these measures were always implied, that some of us only intended to abide by them up until the point these measures became mandatory.

Plainly, what it will take to clean up the bay, is to actually do it.

Mitigation Madness

(Posted by Fred Tutman.)

The legend of Robin Hood is about a fabled band of brave outlaws in medieval England who took money from the rich under a repressive monarchy and redistributed it to the poor. Sounds like a good thing right? Take something from somebody who has too much and give it instead to somebody who has not enough. What could be wrong with that? Fast forward into reality on the Chesapeake Bay, the 21st century and the lopsided world of “net environmental impacts” where we can take a perfectly good and functioning wetlands site, turn it into a parking lot and then make up for it by restoring a wetlands half way across the state. Continue Reading

Healthy Bay = Healthy Economy

(Posted by Fred Tutman.)

On May 20, 2011, Waterkeepers Chesapeake, along with other Maryland-based Waterkeepers staged an historic event in Annapolis at the City Dock. Firing up their patrol boats, the Riverkeepers, accompanied by a crowd of supporters, motored into Annapolis in a Flotilla of Boats in order to make a point. On the day the Governor was signing (or vetoing) new legislation in the Maryland statehouse, this group of water advocates wanted to make sure that both the public and the legislature understood that time is running out to save our waterways. It’s time for deeds–not just promise–in order to bring about necessary change. Continue Reading

Don’t Confuse Agri-Business With Family Farms

(Posted by Fred Tutman.)

I am deeply upset about what appears to be an unavoidable collision course brewing between Chesapeake Bay advocates and a relatively small segment of the agricultural community that has a big footprint in Maryland and in the Chesapeake Bay. It is a confrontation that is causing huge rifts between champions for water quality and advocates for the future of “true” agriculture in the state. It is a fight that is fast making enemies of those who really should be allies. Continue Reading

Who’s Watching the Watchers?

Posted by Fred Tutman.

Last week I had the edgy and unwelcome task of informing an elderly resident in Gambrills that our testing of her well water revealed huge amounts of Thallium, Barium and Aluminum. This was most likely caused by a nearby former coal waste disposal site. This gentle soul whom I suspect has lived in the same home and consumed the water there for her entire life, has lately been living with cases of bottled water sitting on her porch provided courtesy of some energy company.

But she still does not have justice. Continue Reading

The Bay of My Future

Posted by Fred Tutman

Being something of a science fiction fan, and admittedly a recovering “Trekkie” I am always intrigued by depictions in film and in literature of Utopian societies where humans have turned their attention away from sparring with one another and plundering the planet for cash and instead devote their lives to efforts to spreading peace, goodwill and humanitarian aid throughout the galaxy.
Continue Reading