Bay Journal

January 2001 - Volume 10 - Number 10

No clear solution for sediment buildup at Susquehanna dams

The sediment buildup behind Susquehanna River hydroelectric dams has been likened to a time-bomb — when their reservoirs are filled, huge amounts of dirt and nutrients will spill over, fouling Bay water quality.

But a recent symposium about the problem revealed some good news: Scientists believe the fuse on the time bomb may be longer than previously thought. Instead of being filled in less than 20 years, it may take an extra decade before the reservoirs reach capacity.

The bad news is that no one knows how to defuse the sediment bomb. ...

EPA to set new rules cutting power plants’ mercury emissions

Tons of mercury spewing from electric power plants pose “significant hazards to public health,” according to the EPA, which announced in December that it would draft new regulations to control emissions.

The determination, prompted by a suit by the Natural Resources Defense Fund, means the agency must propose rules to reign in the previously unregulated toxic emissions by Dec. 15, 2003. Final rules are to be issued in 2004.

“The greatest source of mercury emissions is power plants and they have never been required to control these emissions before now,” said EPA Administrator Carol Browner. ...

Excess chicken waste to fuel plans for Delmarva power plants

When chicken producers on the Delmarva Peninsula look at chicken litter — a combination of chicken waste, wood chips and saw dust — they’re starting to see something electric. Two poultry companies — Allen Family Foods and British-owned Fibrowatt — are planning to build power plants fueled by chicken litter in Maryland’s Dorchester County.

The approach was conceived in part because of new state and federal regulations that tighten restrictions on the use of chicken litter as fertilizer. Poultry waste has been blamed for polluting Chesapeake Bay tributaries and causing fish kills. ...

EPA proposes rules to restrict management of animal wastes

The EPA has proposed new rules that would require thousands of large animal feedlots and poultry operations across the nation to obtain permits that would restrict how animal wastes are managed.

The rules, proposed in December, are aimed at reducing polluted runoff that often results when huge amounts of animals are confined in relatively small areas, creating large amounts of waste.

Complying with the regulations would cost the livestock industry $850 million to $940 million per year, the EPA estimates. ...

Gateways Network expands with new sites on land, web

The island where settlers first set foot in Maryland, and a museum that highlights the lives of watermen on another island are among the newest members of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network.

With the addition of three new sites, the network has grown to 26 Bay-related places that tell a portion of the Chesapeake Bay’s natural, historical and cultural saga. And, more are on the way: Nominations for additional Gateways are being reviewed, and the National Park Service, which coordinates the network, has announced a new round of grants for program participants. ...

Bay Program states preparing tallies of ‘preserved’ lands

The Bay Program has committed to preserving 20 percent of the watershed as permanently protected open space by 2010. In January, it plans to release its first estimate of how much ground it has to cover with easements — or buy — to reach that goal.

After hammering out a general definition of what is considered “permanently preserved,” each state in December was finalizing estimates of how much land was already protected either by public agencies or private land trusts.

To meet the goal, part of the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement, about 7.7 million acres must be protected. Preliminary estimates indicate the Bay states will be about 1 million acres short, meaning they would need to protect roughly 100,000 acres a year during the coming decade. ...

Bay officials sign toxics strategy calling for eventual zero release

A new toxics strategy that calls for eventually achieving a “zero release” of chemical contaminants from discharge pipes as well as runoff, has won final approval from the Bay Program.

The Executive Council — which includes the governors of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, the mayor of the District of Columbia, the EPA administrator, and the chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, which represents state legislatures — signed the “Toxics 2000 Strategy,” which has been under development for two years, in December. ...

New Bay Journal E-Mail

Effective immediately, the editorial office of the Bay Journal has a new e-mail address:

(Mail list additions or changes should continue to be directed to the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay at:

Notice to Readers

We’d like to thank everyone who responded to our recent first-class letter to people on the Bay Journal mailing list. ...

Bi-state blue crab panel approves stricter harvest restrictions

Maryland and Virginia are planning to phase in new regulations aimed at reducing harvest pressure on blue crabs over the next three years, which they hope will lead to a larger, and healthier, crab population in the future.

The Bi-State Blue Crab Committee in December adopted a new fishing mortality target intended to give more crabs — about 20 percent of the population’s spawning potential — a chance to reproduce each year.

The target is more restrictive than a catch “threshold” adopted by the panel only three months before. That number is considered the maximum safe fishing level and would 10 percent of the spawning potential. ...

Bay cleanup effort takes root on Amish farms

John Fischer would seem an unlikely candidate for one of Lancaster County’s most cutting-edge agricultural innovators. In his dark suit, dark hat and beard, Fischer is part of a large extended family in upper Leacock Township, a predominantly Plain-Sect community northeast of the city of Lancaster. Most of his neighbors, like Fischer, are old-order Amish farmers who run small dairy operations on modest-size farms on creeks that ultimately flow into the Susquehanna River and on to the Chesapeake Bay. First– and second-order streams in Lancaster County are among the most impaired waters in Pennsylvania. ...

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