As we enter a new year and a new decade, 2010 also marks a new generation of possibility for the Chesapeake and all of its waters.
After 25 years of well-intentioned effort through the Chesapeake Bay Program (the collaboration of six states, the District of Columbia, the Bay Commission and the federal government), we have all come to recognize our shortcomings, and collectively we are making a resolution that 2010 is the year to commit to an effective, rigorous pollution diet.
It starts with the efforts outlined by a new administration, with the EPA and the other departments within the federal government working together to plan an effective national approach to restoring the rivers and streams that make up our national treasure, the Chesapeake. However, strategy and planning can only go so far. We need to back these words up with action.
An act of Congress is required to match resources sufficient to meet our newfound dedication to finally stop the dangerous pollution clogging our waters, as well as improve the health and well-being of the millions of people who depend upon these rivers for their economy and their very livelihoods.
Fortunately, we are pleased to endorse new legislation that does exactly that. The Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act, sponsored by Sen. Ben Cardin (S. 1816) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (H.R. 3852) will reauthorize the decades-old Chesapeake Bay Program with a stronger pollution-reduction program to get us back in shape, while providing the funding and market-based approach to meet our goal of healthy rivers and streams.
The Chesapeake Clean Water Act establishes for the first time a firm deadline for implementing Bay restoration activities. Importantly, the legislation significantly expands the amount of federal support available for restoration activities throughout the region to reduce our pollution waistline. Specifically, the bill includes targeted grants and technical assistance for both farmers and local governments-two areas that need the extra attention and support-which will go a long way toward meeting our overall goals.
The efforts on behalf of clean water in the Chesapeake region should be applauded and rewarded. Passage of this bill redoubles these efforts, starting a new, healthier water generation, by making common sense pollution reduction practices commonplace on the land and in our communities.
As co-chairs of the Choose Clean Water campaign, a coalition of more than 100 Chesapeake regional organizations, we call on all advocates of clean water to rally behind this legislation. Passage of the Chesapeake Clean Water Act is critically important in the new year, and we cannot lose our resolve.
So how can you help get us on our new pollution diet?
First, visit the Choose Clean Water website (www.choosecleanwater.org) to learn more and to get involved.
Second, contact your federal legislators and ask them to co-sponsor this important bill. (This is easily done by visiting the action page at www.cbf.org/pass117).
Finally, come join us as we kick off the New Year at the First Annual Choose Clean Water Conference in Washington, DC, Jan. 10-12 at the Renaissance M Street Hotel. This conference will gather leaders and advocates from across the region in this effort, for mutual education, encouragement and the collective energy to see our resolution of a clean water pollution diet through to an ultimately restored Chesapeake Bay.
We can't do it without you.
Tony Caligiuri is regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation's Chesapeake Mid-Atlantic Natural Resource Center. Chris Miller is president of the Piedmont Environmental Council, and Doug Siglin is federal affairs director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
Choose Clean Water Conference
The Chesapeake Coalition's First Annual Choose Clean Water Conference will take place Jan. 10-12 at the Renaissance M St. Marriott Hotel in Washington, DC.
Recognizing that next year will be a critical year for Bay restoration, the conference will reflect on President Barack Obama's executive order on Bay restoration, the approaching deadline for federal Bay cleanup, and the pending Congressional re-authorization of the Bay Program.
Several hundred key leaders of nongovernmental organizations; the philanthropic community; elected officials, including members of Congress; federal and state partners; and the green industry will discuss policy strategies to restore the hundreds of streams and rivers that flow into the Chesapeake Bay.
Conference workshops and plenary sessions will focus at a federal and watershed level on the most pressing issues including: agriculture and nutrient trading; perspectives from headwaters regions - Marcellus Shale & Conowingo sediment; connecting land use and water quality; state perspectives on stormwater; implementing the Obama executive order; and what to expect on the Baywide total maximum daily load.
For information, visit www.choosecleanwater.org.