Bay Advocates Concerned About County WIP Efforts

A December 16 Gazette.net article discusses the efforts of Maryland and its counties to prepare and submit their Phase II Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.  The Plans will be used to implement the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), which requires the State and counties to reduce the level of nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment that washes into the Bay.  The article examines concerns raised by some environmental groups over the lack of detail in county WIPs.

Environmental groups, meanwhile, say the state’s local governments, whose individual documents were used by the Maryland Department of the Environment to craft the statewide Watershed Implementation Plan, must commit to more specific pollution-reduction strategies and come up with ways to pay for them.

“Apart from a few exceptions, they are weak across the board,” said Claudia Friedetzky, conservation representative with the Maryland chapter of the Sierra Club, speaking of county plans submitted by the Nov. 18 deadline that the Sierra Club was able to review.  …

All local governments put a lot of effort into the plans, but some have more resources than others and all are a “work in progress,” MDE Secretary Robert Summers said Thursday.  …

Counties had difficulty because mandated pollution limits promised in June did not get to them until the EPA provided them in August, said Leslie Knapp Jr., associate director for the Maryland Association of Counties. Also, in some cases, the limits were revised shortly before the local plan deadline to require much more pollution reduction, he said.

Although pollution reductions associated with stormwater runoff and wastewater treatment plants will not be easy for counties to pay for, the delays and changes made factoring in costs even more difficult, Knapp said.

Ms. Friedestzky did praise the WIP efforts of Baltimore, Dorchester, and Saint Mary’s Counties in the article.

A December 19 Cumberland-Times News article provides further detail and also discusses Allegany County’s Phase II WIP:  

“After decades of voluntary agreements that have failed, the Chesapeake Bay and most of Maryland’s rivers and streams remain polluted, which is bad for public health and damages our economy,” said Jennifer Bevan-Dangel of 1000 Friends of Maryland. “But there is a solution: Commitments from both state and local governments to establish plans that will achieve pollution limits and make our waters fishable and swimmable again.” 1000 Friends is a member of the Maryland Choose Clean Water Coalition.  …

The various county plans need some tightening up and more specifics, said Bevan-Dangel.

“Restoring the Chesapeake Bay starts in our backyards — in the rivers and streams our families know and love. That’s why we are disappointed with many of the county plans submitted to the state that fail to commit to specific strategies,” Bevan-Dangel said. “But many plans simply report previous actions and actions counties could possibly undertake in the future, and they lack measurable results, potential funding sources, and a clear path forward,” Bevan-Dangel added. “Many of the two-year milestones that the EPA requires to measure progress are even more vague.”

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