Bay Journal

April 2001 - Volume 11 - Number 2

Bay, Long Island Sound take sharply divergent cleanup paths

Early settlers around Long Island Sound found the water packed with schools of fish: They marveled at the large numbers of osprey that would dive into the water, emerging moments later with a meal.

Sturgeon, salmon and shad were abundant, while the shores were densely forested. The land above 40th Street in today’s Manhattan — much of which is part of the Sound’s watershed — was so densely wooded that, one settler wrote, it was “useless except for hunting.”

Today, the Sound’s watershed is one of the nation’s most densely populated. The resulting wastes have taken a toll: Excess nutrients, primarily nitrogen, spur algae blooms that ultimately rob the Sound’s water of oxygen, threatening crabs, lobsters and other important species. Likewise, the algae has blotted out sunlight for underwater grasses, causing the beds — and the habitat they provide — to disappear. ...

Seif steps down at PA DEP

Jim Seif, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, resigned his position effective March 31 to become vice president of Corporate Services for PPL Corp., which is headquartered in Allentown, PA.

Gov. Tom Ridge named David Hess, who has been executive deputy secretary for policy and communications since 1995, as acting DEP secretary, pending Senate confirmation.

Seif, 55, has a long association with the Bay Program. As administrator for Region III in the 1980s, he was heavily involved in the development of the 1987 Bay Agreement, including setting its 40 percent nutrient reduction goal. ...

Matuszeski retires from post as Bay Program director

Bill Matuszeski, who became director of the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office in 1991, retired March 31.

Acting EPA Region III Administrator Thomas Voltaggio named Diana Esher to serve as the Bay Program’s director until a replacement is named for Matuszeski. Esher has served as deputy director of the Bay Program since October 1999. Before that, she was the deputy director of EPA Region III’s Environmental Services Division and has served in a variety of supervisory positions within the region. ...

Group files to protect Atlantic sturgeon under Endangered Species Act

The National Wilderness Institute in February petitioned the federal government to protect the Atlantic sturgeon, the largest fish native to the Chesapeake Bay, under the Endangered Species Act.

The group not only says the sturgeon needs protection, but charges the federal government with failing to consider the impacts of the planned new Woodrow Wilson Bridge, located just outside Washington, D.C. on the fish.

The group, in filing its action, deplored the neglect of the species and cited a 1759 letter by George Washington which described the Potomac as a river “well-stocked with with various kinds of fish at all seasons of the year, and in the spring with shad, herring, bass, carp, perch, sturgeon, all in great abundance.” “It’s only fitting that we make this plea on President’s Day, as George Washington was one of the early great commercial fishermen on the Potomac River,” said NWI Executive Director Rob Gordon. ...

Book offers alternatives to sprawl engulfing VA countryside

Census figures released in March confirm what Virginians have known for years: The state’s population is growing rapidly and sprawling farther over the landscape.

From 1990 to 2000, Virginia’s population grew from 6.3 million to 7.1 million, a 14 percent increase. And while 80 percent of its population lives in cities and surrounding suburbs, the urban cores continue to lose people while the suburbs continue to expand.

In fact, from 1992–97, about 50,000 acres a year were developed in Virginia’s portion of the Bay watershed, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Inventory. Meanwhile, the Bay states have agreed to curb the rate of development within the watershed 30 percent by 2012. ...

Corps recommends denying permit for King William reservoir

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Norfolk District has recommended denying a permit for a 1,500-acre reservoir in Virginia’s King William County that would have flooded more than 400 acres of wetlands and impacted more than 20 miles of streams.

Col. Allan Carroll, engineer for the Corps’ Norfolk District, concluded that the project, sought by the city of Newport News, would degrade wetlands, adversely impact forests and wildlife, and harm the way of life of Native Americans living in the area. ...

Effort to clean up Pennsylvania fish hatcheries may help Chesapeake

Increasing emphasis has been placed on reducing runoff from feedlots to protect the Chesapeake and other waterways, but Pennsylvania is moving to rein in another type of animal pollution: fish manure.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in February withdrew a draft discharge permit for one of the state’s largest trout hatcheries, which it blames for turning Big Spring Creek, a state-designated “exceptional value” stream, into an impaired waterway.

“Our studies proved the discharges were degrading the stream,” said Karen Sitler, a DEP spokeswoman. “The trout used to reproduce in that stream, but it appears they only reproduce above the discharge at this time.” ...

Proposed rules would regulate use, storage of manure

Farm animals in the United States create a 128-billion-pound mountain of manure every year, and the EPA is trying to decide where that manure should be spread, and how deep.

The increasingly large feedlots — called “factory farms” by their critics — are blamed for nutrient runoff that contaminates groundwater and contributes to water pollution problems in the Bay and other coastal waters.

The EPA proposed new regulations late last year that could force thousands of animal operations to get discharge permits, like those issued to industries and sewage plants, and require anyone using feedlot manure to have plans guiding its use on the land. ...

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