Reforms Needed to Clean the Bay

Chesapeake Bay LighthouseLaws and policies for cleaning our Maryland waters should include the following limiting terms:

  1. They should be uniformly applied to all jurisdictions in the Chesapeake Bay watershed;
  2. The financial burdens should be equitably shared among all of the people in all jurisdictions in the Bay watershed;
  3. The extent and amount of the financial burdens should be limited to amounts that are practicable (or feasible), after applying uniform requirements in all jurisdictions in the Bay watershed;
  4. The remediation measures should be scientifically proven to provide cost-effective benefits to the waters;
  5. Applying the most cost-effective measures, including regional efforts (such as dredging of the reservoir behind the Conowingo Dam) should be done before the less effective measures; and
  6. Consideration should be given to whether it is better to prevent the pollution or to clean the waters after the pollution occurs, or whether a combination approach is best.

Currently, Maryland laws, policies and requirements do not include these common sense policies.  Consequently, Maryland is requiring the counties to undertake hundreds of expensive, ineffective stormwater remediation projects which will have negligible effect to improve the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, and which are so expensive that they drive businesses and residents away from Maryland.  Fanatical environmentalists are driving these excessive policies which are environmentally ineffective and economically disastrous.  Adopting the limiting measures I have suggested can fix this serious problem.

The Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement (signed in June 2014) can be a good start to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay.   But it has very little value in taking meaningful steps to clean up the Bay because no state is required to do anything, and because it specifically exempts the states from adopting the most cost-effective measures to clean up the Bay.  It is a toothless, feel good agreement that accomplishes very little.  And, in fact, it stands idly by while Maryland pursues expensive and aggressive clean-up policies, while the other states do virtually nothing.

It must be pointed out that Maryland produces only 20% of the water that goes into the Bay.  Therefore, even if Maryland cleansed all of its waters, the Bay would continue to be polluted.  Only when all Bay states follow the same regimen for cleaning its waters is there ever a possibility of cleaning the Bay.

The State of Virginia produces more water that goes into the Bay than Maryland, yet Virginia has successfully sued to block some of the EPA’s excessively rigid stormwater remediation mandates.  Conversely, the State of Maryland supports the same, excessively expensive mandates.  This lack of a uniform approach to cleaning the Bay will make it impossible for strict Maryland remediation mandates to be effective.

Furthermore, the State of Maryland has refused to acknowledge that dredging of the reservoir behind the Conowingo Dam should be the first step in cleaning the Bay.  This denial is a serious mistake, and it is totally unjustified.  The water coming over the Conowingo Dam contributes somewhere between 25% – 50% of the pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.  The most cost-effective way to improve the quality of the Bay would be to dredge the Conowingo reservoir so that the dam’s stormwater filtering capacity is restored.  Failure to do this is totally unacceptable and is an indication of the serious error in Maryland’s policies and laws.

Oysters.  A thriving oyster ecosystem is required to clean the Bay.   The only way the Chesapeake Bay will ever be restored to a healthy level will be when and if the oyster population in the Bay is restored and once again thrives.  Oysters are nature’s optimum pollution filter for the Bay.  The only way the oysters can return and thrive will be if the reservoir behind the Conowingo Dam is dredged, so that the sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus that come over the Dam are significantly reduced.  This would bring back the sub-aquatic vegetation (SAV), and with the resulting elimination of excessive sediment, oysters would return.  Again, dredging of the Conowingo pond and other actions to increase the size of the oyster colonies must be pursued.  These would be the most cost-effective measures to clean the Bay.

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