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March 2013
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May 2013

Photo of the Week: Day Break over Heywood's Creek

Photo by Bucky Burruss.

"My fiancee Bucky Burruss is dedicated to chronicling the sunrise each day as day breaks over Heywood's Creek in Gloucester County. He has taken hundreds of such shots and each is beautiful and distinctive. Today's is even more unusual than the rest." 

—Terri Haynie

Ensure that Bucky and Terri and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary sights like these in our watershed. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint!

Do you have a favorite Bay photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's E-Communications Manager, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign], along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. We look forward to seeing your photos!

Photo of the Week: It's Voting Time!

AmandaAngleberger_FootBridgeandCloudReflectionsA small footbridge invites you to take a closer look at the Monocacy river in Frederick, Maryland. Photo by Amanda Angleberger.

Voting is now open for the Viewers' Choice winner of our annual Save the Bay Photo Contest! We've narrowed it down to 10 images—including the gorgeous photo above—but now we need your help determining the finalist. Vote for your favorite pic now!

The winner will receive $100 and be featured in CBF's 2013 calendar. Voting closes on Friday, May 3, at 5 p.m. EST (the winner will be announced May 7).

Michael's Clean Water Story

MichaelSheehanCity Dock in Annapolis earlier this month. "I was walking by the seawall and noticed the trash floating on the water. I darn near fell in trying to get the shot!" 

Multiple reasons can be given when discussing why clean water is vital to the ecologic, recreational, cultural, and economic resources of the Chesapeake Bay. By extension, clean water is important to anyone whose life benefits as a result of the Bay. Still, the most compelling reason is that the quality of our water, and thus the health of the Bay, is a reflection of the culture and values of the people who live upslope of its shores.

In a sense, the Bay is a record of our knowledge, values, and priorities. When we lived in ignorance of clean water, a dying ecosystem reflected a society that lacked the knowledge to recognize our connection to the living environment. When we did not value clean water, we saw corresponding losses in the value of the Bay's resources. And when we did not make clean water a priority, we did not make our obligation to future generations a priority.

We should always aspire to do great things. As a child, I remember the tremendous sense of national pride that Americans felt when we placed a man on the moon. It was a remarkable act that defined greatness. The people and governments of the Chesapeake Bay watershed have an opportunity to create a comparable legacy of greatness. If we are to take pride in ourselves, we can and must find the means to restore clean water in the Bay.

—Michael Sheehan

What does the Bay and its waters mean to you? Share your clean water story here!

Photo of the Week: Willoughby Spit

Photo by Randy Owen. 

"I actually took this photo in Oct. 2011. I grew up on this strip of sand, Willoughby Spit, in the lower Chesapeake Bay. This picture represents home to me. There is always something beautiful, every day, here to photograph."

—Randy Owen

Ensure that Randy and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary sights like these in our watershed. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint!

Do you have a favorite Bay photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's E-Communications Manager, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign], along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. We look forward to seeing your photos!

New Rules for Stormwater Expected to Increase Reductions

The following originally appeared in Bay Journal earlier this month.

Photo by © Krista Schlyer/iLCP.

Most of us in the Bay community are celebrating this moment in time for the Chesapeake and its rivers and streams.

In 2010, the EPA established pollution limits—known legally in the Clean Water Act as a Total Maximum Daily Load or TMDL—for waters draining into the Chesapeake (after decades of monitoring, modeling and receiving thousands of comments). Concurrently, the Bay states and the District of Columbia began to refine their plans to meet those pollution targets with programs and funding in place by 2025.

Together, the pollution limits and the jurisdictions' plans to meet them constitute a Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. And, it is working. By some measures, we are halfway to meeting our pollution-reduction goals. The progress we are witnessing demonstrates what can happen when governments, businesses, and individuals work together.

And, the progress begets more progress.

Every pollution sector but one is marching toward success. The outlier is stormwater—that unfiltered stuff running off parking lots, rooftops, sidewalks and roads directly into waterways. It can contain motor oil, gasoline, fertilizers, pesticides, heavy metals and other pollutants we really do not want in our water.

While stormwater is not the biggest source of pollution by any stretch of the imagination, it does need to be addressed.

In fact, the Clean Water Act provides the authority to regulate stormwater under the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System, which requires permits for stormwater discharges in cities and counties of a certain size.

For the most part, the states have been left to address stormwater pollution with very little guidance. With varying degrees of success, the states address stormwater from new development. But stormwater from existing development remains unaddressed.

Until now. Because of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's June 2010 legally binding settlement with the EPA (Fowler v. EPA), the EPA has to draft and release federal stormwater rules. A national performance standard will be set—likely to be based on controlling the runoff up to a certain-size storm—to manage this growing source of pollution to waters everywhere.

We think this rule cannot come too soon. And, we will look for it to include at least four specific areas of concern.

First, the rule should level the playing field for all of the states.

Second, the rule should treat new development and redevelopment differently. It is easier and less costly to prevent stormwater pollution in new development, where there is room for proper design, than it is to treat stormwater in tight urban spaces when redevelopment occurs, although redevelopment should be encouraged.

Third, existing urban areas should not be given a pass. There should be a provision in the rule for retrofitting in urban areas. Some of these strategies can be "green," and are actually less expensive than traditional "gray" infrastructure, as is being demonstrated right now in Lancaster, PA, Philadelphia and elsewhere.

And, fourth, the rule should expand the areas needing municipal permits to include certain existing impervious areas—for example, large suburban shopping malls—as well as those areas which are just now urbanizing, to prevent runoff pollution before it becomes a problem.

A draft of the EPA's national stormwater rule is expected this spring. We should look for it to ensure it does what it should do to reduce pollution and contribute to much healthier waterways. Clean water is the legacy we should be leaving to our children and grandchildren.

—Lee Epstein
Director of Lands Program, Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Learn more about stormwater on our website.

We're Halfway There: Morningside Farm Successes

This is one in a series of articles about farmers in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed who have implemented Best Management Practices (BMPs) to improve water quality and efficiency on their farm. As a result of these and other success stories, we're halfway to achieving the nutrient reductions needed to restore the Chesapeake Bay and its waters. View the rest of the series here.

Tom Eavers and his wife Kaye own and operate Morningside Farm. Photo by Bobby Whitescarver. 

“You won’t believe this, but ever since I put those waterers in I haven’t had a single case of pinkeye,” exclaimed Tom Eavers, beef cattle farmer in Mount Sidney, Va. He was referring to the freeze-proof livestock watering stations he installed after fencing his cows out of a wetland area and a stream.

Eavers and his wife, Kaye, own and operate Morningside Farm, a 120-acre beef cattle farm in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley in Augusta County. They run a cow-calf business and a grass-finished beef operation on land in the Middle River watershed, a tributary of the South Fork of the Shenandoah River.

To get the watering projects done, they utilized the expertise of the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and funding from the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Improvement (CBWI) programs.

“We did it for the health of the cows and for our customers,” Eavers said. “It’s not good for business to see a bunch of cows up to their bellies in muck and mud, and it’s not good for the cows either. We no longer have pinkeye or foot problems since we fenced the cows out of the wet."

He continued, “People today are more health conscious and care about the environment. I guarantee, when people see my cows and clean water and the farmer next door has cows knee deep in muck and water, they are going to buy their beef from me."

Charlie Ivins, District Conservationist for the NRCS, worked with Mr. Eavers and called the projects "the perfect candidate for the CBWI program. These programs continue to become more flexible as we learn more about customer needs."

The CBWI program also had funds to reseed the Eavers’ pastures with clover and add some cross fencing and an additional watering trough to enhance the existing rotational grazing system. He’s happy with the projects and everyone who helped get them installed.

—Bobby Whitescarver  

 Whitescarver lives in Swoope, Va. For more information, visit his website.

Ensure that people like the Eavers are able to continue doing these innovative things on their farms. Tell Congress to protect conservation programs--that are critical to restoring the Bay--in the Farm Bill!

Photo of the Week: One Week Left!

Last year's second-place winner of the "Save the Bay" Photo Contest. Bushes line the beach at Cape Charles, Virginia, and are speckled with hundreds of monarch butterflies. Photo by Dianne Appell.

There's just five days left until the annual "Save the Bay" Photo Contest submission deadline! Have you submitted your photos yet? From Pennsylvania to Virginia, from the Shenandoah Mountains to the Eastern Shore, we want to see your vision of the Bay and its rivers and streams. Submit your photos today, and you can win not only bragging rights, but cash prizes!

—Emmy Nicklin

Local Governments Set Pollution-Busting Examples

The following originally appeared in Bay Journal News Service yesterday.

Riparian Park plantingA 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.

Examples abound.

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 character.

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 restoration.

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.

—Kim Coble
Vice President, Environmental Protection and Restoration, Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Photo of the Week: Tabbs Creek Picture-Perfect Sunset

Picture Perfect Spot for SunsetsA mid-March sunset along Tabbs Creek in Matthews, Virginia. Photo by Harold Crowder.

"The Bay is an open invitation to an endless variety of adventures. From the thrill of competition, crewing in sailing boat races out of Fishing Bay Yacht Club, Deltaville, to relaxing romantic getaways in quaint historical villages like Gloucester, Mathews, and Smithfield where you can absorb the natural beauty, habitat and wildlife, and charm, while amidst a calmer pace on backroads and taking in local epicurean delights.

The Bay, this invitation, is for all, but those of us who are Virginians, it is in our backyard! With every visit I feel the tide pulling stronger for my return and discovery of more of its majesty, a richness that needs to be preserved for future generations."

—Harold Crowder

We're looking for YOUR best shot! Submit to our annual "Save the Bay" photo contest and you could win cash prizes! Learn more here. Contest closes April 12!

Do you have a favorite Bay photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's E-Communications Manager, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign], along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. We look forward to seeing your photos!