Why Your Help Is So Urgently Needed: The 4th Street Rain Garden Saga

The 4th Street Rain Garden

The 4th Street Rain Garden

Restoring the Bay is dependent upon keeping thousands of Best Management Practices (BMPs) working.  The following article illustrates why this task cannot be accomplished without a tremendous increase in public participation.  It shows how even the most dedicated agencies cannot cope with a tremendous workload.  It also shows how even the most Bay-knowledgeable among us are not aware of this need, which speaks loudly to the need for better public education. Continue reading

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Challenges of Supporting Agriculture & Reducing Farm Pollution

Maryland and other Bay jurisdictions now require keeping cattle out of streams.

Maryland and other Bay jurisdictions now require keeping cattle out of streams.

In the 1970s I had the honor of serving on the Baltimore County Soil Conservation District Board of Supervisors.  I was the “urban” supervisor.  My four fellow Board members were farm owners.  At first our relationship was strained to say the least.  But as I came to understand the difficulties farmers faced and that they cared for land as much as me (perhaps more so), I developed a deep respect for these people and the dedicated, underpaid District employees who support the farming community.

There are 122 Districts throughout the Bay watershed who employ about a thousand people serving on the front lines of the effort to reduce agricultural nutrients and sediment while keeping farms in business.  However, excessive paperwork and a lack of enforcement authority makes the task of convincing farm owners to implement practices challenging, to say the least.  This is particularly true when those practices may not increase farm profits or could even cost the farm owner money.  To learn more about the vitally important work performed by the Districts, the challenges they face in restoring the Bay, and why it is critical that each of us actively support our local District (especially when local budgets are debated)  see: Don’t Fence Me In: The Race to Save Chesapeake Bay.

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MAPP Transmission Line Haunts Landowners & Ratepayers

PHITowerPhotoA few years ago CEDS helped organize a 40-member coalition of local, state and national organizations who had a number of very serious questions about a $1.2 billion, multistate transmission line project known as MAPP (Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway).  This project was mostly about opening up markets in New York and New Jersey to electricity produced by Midwest coal-fired power plants.  Had this and related projects been built it would have increased climate-changing gas emissions, increased electricity costs and arguably made our electric grid more vulnerable to outages.

We thought MAPP was defeated and gone for good in 2012.  However, a recent decision will require electricity customers in Maryland and 12 other states to reimburse PEPCO for $80.5 million in expenses for this failed project.  Also, large tracts of land in Maryland are held in easements obtained to construct the transmission line making it easier for MAPP proponents to resurrect this project in the future.

For further detail see PJM Consumers on the Hook for $80.5M for Failed MAPP Project.

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YouTube Presentations & Workshops To Accelerate Restoration of Your Favorite Waters

Big Six Pollution Sources

The title slide from the Big Six Pollution Sources training presentation

CEDS has uploaded three narrated presentations to YouTube that would allow both volunteers and watershed organization staff to quickly learn how to:

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BMP Coops & Watershed Groups: A Solution to the Stormwater Maintenance Dilemma?

Well maintained stormwater ponds can be valuable assets to homeowner association members. Photo courtesy of Foster Lake & Pond Management  www.FosterLake.com

Well maintained stormwater ponds can be valuable assets to homeowner association members. Photo courtesy of Foster Lake & Pond Management http://www.FosterLake.com

THE PROBLEM:  There may be 100,000 stormwater ponds and other Best Management Practices (BMPs) throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  While no one knows for certain, lack of maintenance may have caused a substantial portion to fail.  If this is true then large quantities of pollution are needlessly entering the Bay and her tributary waters.  Most BMPs are privately owned and maintained.  In some jurisdictions a staff of inspectors visit each BMP every three years or so.  These visits help the owner understand the importance of the BMP and maintenance needs.  The owner is then provided with a list of contractors who have the expertise and equipment needed to resolve any maintenance issues.   Most issues are resolved quickly without the need for enforcement action. Continue reading

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Restoring 4600 Miles of Maryland Degraded Waters & the Stormwater Fee

Darkest red areas have the most intense development and the most stormwater-polluted waters; yet all could be restored with the stormwater fee.

Darkest red areas have the most intense development and the most stormwater-polluted waters; yet all could be restored with the stormwater fee.

Though no Maryland home is more than a 15-minute walk from the nearest waterway, the waters closest to 70% of us are unfit for our use due to stormwater pollution and related impacts.  The stormwater fee could restore many of these waters in a few decades.  Imagine, residents of the poorest neighborhoods in Baltimore City, Frederick or College Park being able to wade, fish or swim in neighborhood waters without fear of contracting a disease.  But achieving this and many other benefits depends upon the fee and spending the funds very wisely.  It also depends upon achieving a high level of compliance with Maryland’s new Environmental Site Design (ESD) requirements.  It is for these reasons that the Maryland General Assembly must not rescind the stormwater fee law. Continue reading

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Maximizing Stormwater Benefits Via Citizen-State-EPA Oversight

The waters closest to the homes in the darker brown areas are degraded by stormwater pollution and are likely unfit for any human uses.

The 13,000 miles of waters closest to the homes in the brown areas are degraded by stormwater pollution and are likely unfit for any human uses.

The stormwater runoff from suburban-urban lands degrades 13% of the 100,000 miles of waterways making up the Chesapeake Bay system.  This figure could be growing by another 400 miles annually due to new development.  However, all six Bay watershed states and the District of Columbia have adopted innovative methods of managing stormwater that could bring a halt to the annual loss and actually restore waters once thought lost forever.  However, there are a number of If’s that could easily derail future progress.  A major if is whether citizens, the states and EPA will provide the oversight needed to keep progress going. Continue reading

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