Bay Journal

March 2010 - Volume 20 - Number 1

Challenges to stormwater rules threaten to weaken water quality

State efforts to reduce stormwater runoff from development sites in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania are facing an onslaught of questions and challenges that conservationists worry could weaken water quality protection in the Chesapeake region.

States are under pressure to develop robust stormwater regulations to meet federal pollution limits for rivers known as TMDLs, or Total Maximum Daily Loads. In January, the EPA announced plans to write federal stormwater regulations for the Bay watershed. ...

Proposed Obama budget includes more funds for Bay-related items

Most federal Bay-related programs are slated for significant funding increases in President Barack Obama's proposed 2011 budget, which would send more money to states to control nutrient pollution, improve fisheries habitat in the Chesapeake and help the region prepare for future climate change.

Much of the increased spending stems from Obama's Executive Order, which declared the Chesapeake Bay to be a "national treasure" and pledged to make "full use" of federal authority to clean up and restore the Chesapeake. ...

Veteran MD DNR official to lead marine fisheries agency at NOAA

A veteran Maryland natural resources official has been named by the Obama administration to oversee national fisheries management.

Eric Schwaab, who had been deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, was named assistant administrator for fisheries at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In his new position, he will oversee the National Marine Fisheries Service, an agency with a $1 billion budget charged with ending overfishing in federal waters-those more than 3 miles offshore. ...

Intimidator, subsurfer latest tools to hammer away at nutrient pollution

With names like The Intimidator and The Subsurfer, the equipment on this one-time poultry farm near Princess Anne on Maryland's Eastern Shore looks and sounds like it could star in an action movie.

Instead, these tools are on the front lines of research developing the next-generation nutrient-management practices that will help farmers control erosion and reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus running into waterways.

Together, these pieces of equipment, and others like them, are setting out to do what has yet to be done: Precisely apply dry poultry manure into a part of the soil where the nutrients within it won't run off, and monitor it to make sure it stays there. If everything goes according to plan, the technology could come to market in just three years. ...

Dredge islands in Bay giving way to projects on shore

The truck makes a sharp turn and drives along what looks like a finger of earth jutting into the Patapsco River. Slowly, Frank Hamons climbs out onto this dike, planting his feet on about 1.3 million cubic yards of dirt that not long ago sat at the bottom of the river. After 30 years with the Maryland Port Administration, Hamons can't help but smile about the progress here at Masonville Cove, one of the newest sites set to receive material dredged from the Baltimore Harbor.

"There's a lot of pride in these projects," said Hamons, the port's deputy director for harbor development. "We have been paid back many times for our investment here. Working with the neighborhoods has been extremely beneficial to us." ...

Time line set for TMDL implementation plans, actions

For many working on it, the Bay TMDL might instead be considered a TMLD-too many long days. Evening and weekend hours have become routine for many. Even when snow buried the government, arrangements were made to carry on with teleconference meetings, with participants calling in from home.

There are even countdown clocks. Competing versions have the due date at midnight Dec. 23-representing the hope that the task is completed by Christmas-while another represents the "actual" due date of midnight Dec. 31. ...

VA legislators kill bills to transfer menhaden management to VMRC

The debate over who could best manage Virginia's menhaden fishery proved to be short-lived.

Legislation introduced on the first day of the General Assembly session which would have transferred oversight from legislators to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission was killed in both the House and Senate by the end of January.

State Sen. Ralph Northam, D-Norfolk, who sponsored the Senate version, pulled the bill without a vote knowing defeat was inevitable. Meanwhile, a House subcommittee killed an identical bill from Sen. John Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake. ...

EPA announces ‘Eyes on Drilling’ tip line for oil, natural gas

The EPA has created an "Eyes on Drilling" tip line for citizens to report non-emergency suspicious activity related to oil and natural gas development.

The agency is asking citizens to call 1-877-919-4EPA, toll-free, if they observe what appears to be an illegal disposal of wastes or other suspicious activity. Anyone may also send reports by e-mail to Citizens may provide tips anonymously if they don't want to identify themselves. ...

Charles ‘Mac’ Mathias, founder of Bay cleanup effort, dies

Charles McC. Mathias Jr., a three-term United States senator from Maryland who was instrumental in launching the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort, died Jan. 25 at his home in Chevy Chase, MD, of complications from Parkinson's Disease. He was 87.

Mathias, who served in the U.S. House from 1961 through 1969, then in the Senate until 1987, was a liberal Republican who sponsored civil rights legislation, advocated for equal rights for women and was critical of the Vietnam War. He was called "the conscience of the Senate" by its Democratic leader, Mike Mansfield. ...

Bay states poised to take lead in bioenergy field

The Chesapeake Bay region could lead the nation in developing a biofuels industry that will help wean Americans from dependence on foreign oil and keep farmers in business while also improving water quality. But to succeed, the states and the federal government must create markets and encourage the needed investments.

Those conclusions mark the end of the Chesapeake Bay Commission's three-year research effort into biofuels and the Bay.

The commission recommended a regional production goal of 500 million gallons of biofuels a year. The fuels would be produced from a mix of agricultural and forest-based feedstock. ...

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