Bay Journal

June 1991 - Volume 1 - Number 4

Eroding shores reshape the Chesapeake

Some 4.7 million cubic yards of Chesapeake Bay shoreline is eroding each year, adding sediments, toxics, and nutrients to the water.

In the past century, 45,000 acres of shoreline has eroded — an area equivalent to the District of Columbia.

Those figures are presented in a new U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report, "Chesapeake Bay Shoreline Erosion Study," which was done in cooperation with the states of Maryland and Virginia.

Effort aims to teach boaters about pollution problems, law

Bay boaters this summer will be reminded that not only can their trash kill, but that anyone dumping debris overboard may be subject to huge fines and even jail terms under international law.

The Center for Marine Conservation, operating under an EPA grant, has launched pilot boater education campaigns off the coast of New Jersey and in the Annapolis area of the Chesapeake Bay to improve awareness of the 1987 international MARPOL (short for marine pollution) Protocol.

The debris-dumping restrictions of the international agreement were formally enacted as U.S. law in 1988.

Pollution prevention strategies to get greater emphasis within Bay Program

The Chesapeake Bay Program is moving toward establishing pollution prevention as its preferred method for protecting the Bay and its resources.

The Program's Principals' Staff Committee, during a recent two-day retreat, discussed ways to strengthen the pollution prevention focus of the program as opposed to the traditional 'command and control' strategies that emphasize regulating pollution at the end of the pipe — after it is produced.

A policy statement giving pollution prevention practices a high priority in the program is expected to be presented to the Executive Council when it meets this summer.

Access plan seeks to unite people with the Bay

The Bay Program's Public Access Plan is about to roll off the presses, identifying all public and private access points on the Bay and its tributaries, as well as where additional access is needed.

Completed as part of the 1987 Bay Agreement, the plan is intended to be melded into local government development plans to help target future access sites.

The access plan consists of detailed county-level maps for all three states and the District of Columbia which identify existing public and private access sites as well as potential sites. The maps also give information helpful in locating new sites by identifying areas with shoreline erosion; wetlands; natural heritage sites with rare or endangered species; cultural resources; and existing beaches.

$12 million lift at Conowingo a boost for Bay fish

The opening of hundreds of miles of fish spawning grounds moved a giant step closer to reality with the recent completion of a $12 million 'fish lift' at the Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River.

The fish lift, built by dam owner Philadelphia Electric, is the largest of its kind in the United States, with a capacity to pass 750,000 American shad and 5 million river herring per year. Officials from the utility, the federal government and the three Bay states recently gathered to dedicate the lift.

For now, however, the fish will not be released above the dam. Only 14 miles of open water exists between Conowingo and the next dam upstream — Holtwood Dam. So the fish are instead loaded into trucks and hauled beyond Holtwood and two other dams, Safe Harbor and York Haven, all of which are located in the first 80 miles of the Susquehanna and were built in the early 1900s.

States, EPA set long-term strategy to crack down on wastewater violations

The Bay States and the EPA have entered a new phase of cooperation in cracking down on polluters who violate their wastewater discharge permits.

A new long-term enforcement strategy signed by officials from the EPA and the states sets a goal of eliminating chronic discharge violations by July 1, and to eventually eliminate all "significant noncompliance" by dischargers.

The new goals are a followup to a 1990 Bay watershed goal set by EPA Administrator William K. Reilly to halve the number of municipal wastewater treatment plants and industrial facilities in significant noncompliance during the year and to bring all federal facilities into compliance with their environmental permits.

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