Happy New Year!
This Wednesday, January 8, the 434th session of Maryland's General Assembly will begin. And here's a New Year's resolution we might offer Maryland legislators as they head to Annapolis: Follow through on what you started.
The past few years have been landmark years for CBF and the Bay. We passed legislation to finish upgrading our largest sewage plants, to curb pollution from large developments on septic systems, and to give local governments critical funding to address polluted runoff. Maryland has made some excellent progress to finish the job of cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay and local creeks and rivers.
But, this year many legislators want to change course and try to stall efforts to tackle polluted runoff. They want to derail our progress. We can't let that happen and preventing that will be our number one priority this legislative session.
Staying the course will get us the best results. We are already starting to see success:
- We have upgraded about half of the major sewage plants;
- We have started to get a handle on agricultural pollution;
- Oysters are showing new resilience; and
- We have a clear blueprint for the future based on science, specific clean-up strategies, and, for the first time, accountability to ensure success.
However, backpedaling on addressing polluted runoff is a problem. As more of our forests and open spaces have been paved over, when it rains more water rushes off the landscape and carries pet waste, oil and grease, excess fertilizer, and other pollution into local creeks and rivers. This polluted runoff causes swimming advisories, flooded basements, sink holes, and seafood advisories. It's also the only major source of pollution on the rise and one we must address now. With the dedicated stormwater fees required in the 2012 legislation, local governments in the most developed counties and Baltimore City can do just that. Click here to learn more.
During the upcoming session, CBF will focus on keeping this dedicated local funding in place. We will not see improvements to our communities and local waters without it. We will also track the state budget to make sure the state follows through to finish cleaning the Chesapeake. We call the plan for that work the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.
Over the coming weeks and months we will see attacks to the Blueprint from those that wish to derail or delay the clean-up. We will see attempts to gloss over our ever-growing polluted runoff problem with catch phrases that do little more than mislead.
This is a New Year when change is not for the better. I hope you will join me in insisting on resolve by state lawmakers. We all must work harder to implement the Blueprint. Following through on that plan will finally make Maryland water safe enough for swimming and fishing. Please urge your state legislators to stay strong on stormwater fees!
—Alison Prost, CBF's Maryland Executive Director