Commentary Faults Approach to Chesapeake Bay TMDL in Rural Areas

A July 31 Southern Maryland Online commentary by newspaper columnist Tim Rowland provides an interesting examination of some of the challenges facing federal and state officials as they work with local governments to implement the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) requirements.  The commentary discusses the importance of having all of the states within the Bay watershed contribute to the TMDL.  In order to accomplish this, Mr. Rowland argues that federal and state officials need to proceed carefully and fairly.

Don’t lay down the law, don’t throw your weight around, don’t come in like a blunderbuss with threats and scare tactics. Don’t protect one person’s interests at the expense of another’s.

Because that’s not going to help those responsible for cleaning up the bay’s headwaters with their cause.

Mr. Rowland opines that officials are not helping their cause in rural areas, even where there is sympathy for the Bay.

In Maryland, salt was poured into the wound when bureaucrats cheerfully showed up at public meetings telling local governments that they were theoretically on the hook for millions of dollars worth of pollution-reduction measures by 2025. In Washington County, Md., the tab for Bay cleanup came to $1.1 billion, or better than $7,000 for every man, woman and child.

In the Potomac River town of Hancock, a stunned council was informed that its responsibilities for Bay cleanup totaled $31 million — almost 20 times the town’s entire annual operating budget. The town’s generally progressive mayor called the numbers “astonishingly ridiculous.”

Mr. Rowlands states that while people in the western rural areas of the Bay watershed should and do care about the Bay, he concludes that the current approach taken by regulatory officials with the Bay TMDL will make them “apathetic at best or hostile at worst.”

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