Bay Journal

Topics: Pollution

MD Shore farms brace for latest phase-in of phosphorus rule

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A much-debated farm pollution regulation is set to take wider effect soon in Maryland, stirring growing anxiety among farmers and environmentalists alike. Those concerns could put the rule on hold next year.

The state’s Phosphorus Management Tool rule, adopted in 2015, aims to reduce the risk of polluted farm runoff by limiting how much manure farmers can use to fertilize certain fields.

Only about 100 farms have been affected so far, as the restrictions are being slowly phased in through 2022. But the number of farms that must comply with the rule is set to jump significantly in 2019.

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About Pollution

Nutrient pollution, the nitrogen and phosphorus that originates from farms, wastewater treatment plants, stormwater runoff and air pollution, is a major source of pollution to the Chesapeake. In the Bay, they spur growth of algae blooms which block sunlight needed by important underwater grass beds. When the algae dies, they are decomposed in a process that depletes the water of oxygen needed by other species.

Sediment eroded from the land and streambanks degrades stream health and reduces water clarity. Toxins and other chemical contaminants also pose a direct threat to fish throughout the Bay and its watershed.

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