The headline on a recent Baltimore Banner commentary by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Josh Kurtz reads: “Gov.-elect Moore has right plan for Chesapeake Bay; restoring hope is first step.” The full commentary ignores four environmentally sound and cost-effective initiatives that could lead to measurable and sustainable success in restoring and maintaining the health of the Bay.
The first is final approval by the Board of Public Works of funding for dredging recyclable oyster shells from the Man-O-War Shoal in the Bay. This initiative to help restore the bay’s natural oyster population has been stalled for more than 25 years. If approved, the dredging will enhance an ongoing rebound of the bay’s oyster population and increase the capacity of the oyster population to reduce the impact of pollution naturally and effectively by filtering the bay’s waters.
This plan has been thoroughly reviewed and approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, as well as independent third-party research organizations. All have concluded this limited dredging proposal will not harm the Man-O-War Shoal or the Bay.
The second issue that requires action is resolution of untreated wastewater dumping at the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant and the Patapsco Wastewater Treatment Plant in Baltimore. Previous actions by the Hogan administration on this matter are simply not enough. Gov.-elect Moore and his team need to develop and implement a long-term solution.
The third issue is dredging the enormous amounts of silt and sediment trapped behind the Conowingo Dam that results in pollution flowing into the Bay following heavy rains and snowfalls in the Susquehanna River watershed above the dam.
Lastly, Maryland needs to ensure every organization that receives grant monies for bay cleanup efforts is monitored closely for regulatory compliance, timely performance and measurable results. Virginia provides a case study on how to do that.
Now is the time for Gov.-elect Moore and his team to seek an answer to the following question: Are there proper oversight and accountability requirements in place or needed in Maryland for all bay restoration efforts? Everyone interested in the bay and its watershed deserves answers to this question and action on the initiatives outlined above. Captain Rob Newberry, Crumpton