The following originally appeared in Bay Journal News Service yesterday.
A community riparian park planting. Photo by CBF Staff.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation's 2012 State of
the Bay Report tells us the health of the Chesapeake Bay has improved 14
percent since 2008. But that doesn't tell the whole story.
Throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, we hear about local
governments, businesses, and citizens rolling up their sleeves to reduce
pollution from all sectors--agriculture, sewage treatment plants, and urban and
suburban runoff. They are working to restore local rivers and streams. That is
the goal of the federal/state Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint (formally known
as the TMDL and State Watershed Implementation Plans). The Blueprint, if fully
implemented with programs in place by 2025, will restore clean water throughout
the Chesapeake's 64,000 square mile watershed.
In south-central Pennsylvania, Warwick Township's citizens—farmers,
school children, businessmen, civic groups, and the township board of supervisors—pitched
in to implement a comprehensive watershed management plan for Lititz Run.
Building on stream restoration efforts started in the early 1990s, Girl Scouts
turned old barrels into rain barrels, and in turn homeowners used the devices
to reduce stormwater flow. Every industrial park in the township modified its
stormwater system to reduce runoff. The township preserved 20 farms
and 1,318 farm acres from future development
using "Transferable Development
Rights." Eagle Scouts
placed "No Dumping, Drains to the Stream" signs on
all the storm drains in the township.
The Result: Lititz Run has been re-designated by the State as a cold-water
fishery and now supports a healthy brook trout population.
Just a little south of Lititz, the Lancaster City government is making
significant investments in green infrastructure. The green roofs, porous pavers
in alleyways, rain barrels, and other innovative technologies put in place
there will absorb rainwater instead of allowing it to run off carrying pollution
to the Conestoga River. Not only will water quality be improved, but these
actions will improve the quality of life for all residents.
In Maryland, Harford, Somerset, and Wicomico counties decided to better manage
sprawl to reduce associated water and air pollution and preserve their rural
In the small town of Forest Heights, Md., Mayor Jacqueline E. Goodall wants
local government to lead by example. Town stormwater drains into Oxon Run,
which in turn flows to the polluted Potomac River. So the town recently
installed new bio-retention ponds, a cistern, and three 250-gallon rain barrels
at the town administration building. Previously, the town had installed a
vegetated green roof on the building, as well as solar panels, and
energy-efficient interior features. Forest Heights actively sought grants for
the latest project, reducing the overall cost 90 percent. Now, the town is
encouraging its 2,400 residents to do their part: limit car washing and
pesticide spraying, install rain barrels, and take other measures.
And Talbot County, Md., has undertaken an innovative pilot program to use
existing farm and street ditches to purify runoff. County-wide, this strategy
could save tens of millions of dollars.
In Virginia this year, the Governor and legislature allocated $216 million in
new funds for local water improvement efforts, the largest investment in clean
water in years.
This investment will pay for upgrading wastewater treatment
plants, improving stormwater runoff controls, and reducing combined sewer
overflows. These actions will help produce healthier streams and rivers across
the Commonwealth, stimulate local economies, and help Virginia meet its 2017
Chesapeake Bay cleanup goals
Falls Church, Va., officials reduced the initial cost estimates for improving
stormwater management by 60 percent through the use of "green infrastructure." And in Charlottesville, Va., city officials recognized the damage done by
stormwater to the Rivanna River and passed a stormwater fee to aid in
We hope these actions and the many others like them inspire other local
governments, businesses, and individuals to implement the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint
. It is the right thing to do, and it is the legacy we want to
leave for our children and grandchildren.
We're more than halfway to our goal of reducing water pollution. Much work
remains, but momentum is building. And each person, business, and locality that
takes action increases our ability to finish the job in our lifetime.
Vice President, Environmental Protection and Restoration,
Chesapeake Bay Foundation