LETTER: Reducing Agricultural Runoff Is Crucial To Bay - Southern Maryland Headline News

LETTER: Reducing Agricultural Runoff Is Crucial To Bay


Re: State Encourages Cover Crops to Cut Erosion, Pollution, But Funds Lag

The Chesapeake Bay is our state’s most important natural resource. The fact that it is in such a dire condition impacts every citizen of Maryland. The Bay is a source of jobs and of recreation. It is a source of food and a habitat for several thousand species. We must take serious action now to reduce pollution entering our waterways before it is too late.

Reducing agricultural runoff is clearly a crucial component. However, we need to attack the Bay’s pollution problem from multiple angles if there is any hope to meet the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement. While cover crops work to control the pollution that agriculture contributes, urban and suburban runoff continues to increase.

This increase should not be occurring.

In 1984, when an EPA report first outlined the extent to which pollution harmed the Bay, citizens and officials vowed to clean up the Chesapeake. In Maryland, we passed the Critical Areas Act. The Act was meant to drastically cut pollution that flowed into the Bay by creating a 1000 foot buffer around the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries where development would be closely monitored and controlled. Unfortunately, over 20 years later we are still seeing heavy development in these most vulnerable areas and a continual increase of pollution entering our waterways.

Countless loopholes, inadequate enforcement, and an uneven application of the law have left the Act largely ineffective. Developers maneuver around the regulations (both legally and illegally) without fear of repercussion. If the Critical Areas Act is ever to fulfill its initial intent of protecting the Chesapeake Bay from pollution and over-development, its language must be strengthened and there must be serious consequences for violators

We have known for decades now that there is a serious pollution problem in the Bay. More over, we also know that there are concrete solutions that can be taken to minimize the pollution entering our waterways—it is time we all ask of our elected officials to act in the interest of everyone within the Chesapeake Bay watershed and save our bay before it is too late.

Josh Bell
Policy Associate
Environment Maryland
Baltimore, MD 21218

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