Transparency and accountability. It's hard to imagine having any success in the fight for clean water without those essential ingredients. Unfortunately, Baltimore residents are living proof of this. Despite increasing sewer bills, their city's sewage problem has only gotten worse. For the past 14 years, promises to fix the city's aging pipe system have gone unmet, leaving noxious sewage spills a regular occurrence, especially after major rain events. These spills are not only a smelly inconvenience but a significant threat to clean water.
We have heard this story before. For decades, voluntary agreements to clean the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams were signed between the Bay states. With no teeth behind these agreements, deadlines were inevitably missed, and no consequences were enforced. It wasn't until December 2010, when the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint was signed, that two-year, incremental pollution-reduction goals—known as milestones—were required, with consequences imposed for failure.
Baltimore needs similar transparency and accountability if they are ever going to fix their sewage problem. CBF is calling for deadlines for specific action on this issue to ensure the city is held accountable for progress. Baltimore residents have a right to a full and transparent accounting of money spent, work accomplished or not, and sewage spills still occurring. Take action right now to tell elected officials and environmental agencies working on this issue that we must see a legally binding agreement that effectively tackles the sewage in Baltimore streets without over burdening citizens.
This Week in the Watershed: Moving Ospreys, Potomac Grades, and Charm City Sewage
- With spring gardening around the corner, weeds are inevitable. There are several environmentally safe, and non-back-breaking, methods to beating the pesky plants. (Northern VA Daily—VA)
- Virginia has a reason to celebrate, with over $140 million allocated to clean water measures, such as funding to help farmers implement best management practices, and upgrades to wastewater treatment plants. (Bay Journal)
- CBF is gearing up for its 28th annual Clean the Bay Day in Virginia. Volunteers are needed! (Richmond Times-Dispatch—VA)
- Friends of the Potomac River received some good news this week when the Potomac Conservancy's report card declared the river has earned its highest grade yet: a B-. (Bay Journal)
- With ospreys returning to the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, some inevitably build their nests in inconvenient locations. One such location happened to be in the parking lot of CBF's headquarters in Annapolis. (CBS Baltimore—MD)
- As the old saying goes, knowledge is power. In that light, we are excited the U.S. Geological Survey, along with state and regional agencies, are exponentially expanding the number of sites where they acquire water samples to assess pollution trends. (Bay Journal)
- CBF's Alison Prost writes on the need for transparency and accountability in treating Baltimore's sewage problem. (Baltimore Sun—MD)
- We're big fans of using modern farm technology to reduce polluted runoff, such as one farm in Frederick County, MD. (Frederick News-Post—MD)
- As we celebrated World Water Day, we agree with this editorial that there still is a long way to go in cleaning up our waters. (Richmond Times-Dispatch—VA)
What's Happening Around the Watershed?
- Virginia Beach, VA: The Brock Environmental Center (BEC), one of the world's most energy-efficient buildings, is looking for tour guides! We are looking for outgoing individuals who will be trained, tested, and ultimately designated official BEC Tour Guides! To RSVP, e-mail Chris Gorri at CGorri@cbf.org with "Tour Guide" in the subject line, or call 757-622-1964.
- Cambridge, MD: Come plant trees with CBF at Jones Farm. Over 1,200 native trees will be planted on six acres to restore the riparian buffer. This area is critical habitat for the Delmarva fox squirrel and coastal-dependent birds including salt marsh sparrows and American black ducks. No tree planting experience is necessary, and all materials and supplies are provided. Families and children welcome. Click here to register!
- Frederick, MD: Come plant trees with CBF in Frederick! This project consists of the restoration of approximately 1,500 linear feet of the Little Tuscarora Creek. The stream system has been impacted by cattle in the stream, adjacent row-crop fields input of sediment, and the lack of a riparian buffer. No tree planting experience is necessary, and all materials and supplies are provided. Families and children welcome. Click here to register!
- Wrightsville, PA: Join neighbors, businesses, and elected officials for a lively discussion about local clean water issues. This event is open to all residents of the Commonwealth looking to make a difference in their local community and to take action for clean water. This town hall reception will be a forum where local elected officials will address constituents' concerns about water quality in York County. Click here to register!
- Cambridge, MD: Help CBF make the Choptank River cleaner and safer for the whole community during this river cleanup event. All supplies will be provided. Families and groups are welcome to attend. Click here to register!
- Monkton, MD: Come help CBF plant 1,200 trees to restore six acres of forest on this new farm. The Little Gunpowder is a natural reproducing trout stream, and the restoration of this farm will help protect this cold water fishery. No tree planting experience is necessary, and all materials and supplies are provided. Families and children are welcome. Click here to register!
- Church Hill, MD: Come paddle with us on the Blackwater River in Dorchester County, Maryland. Blackwater River is a prime example of a healthy tidal Eastern Shore river, replete with large expanses of tidal marsh and pine forests. The wildlife is dominated by various species of bird life, including nesting bald eagles, ospreys, herons, and ducks. The paddle is comfortable and peaceful, offering up-close views of herons fishing in the shallows and ducks nesting in the many trees along the banks. All canoes and paddling equipment will be provided. Children ages 10 and up are welcome to register, but must be accompanied by an adult. This is a paddle for people of all skill levels. Click here to register!
—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate