An extensive July 27 Gazette.net article discusses continued resistance from the agricultural community and other stakeholders to proposed regulations designed to limit the application of manure and sewage sludge to agricultural fields. As previously reported on Conduit Street , the regulations, which have been under consideration since last year, have proven controversial with farmers, wastewater treatment managers, and environmental groups. The article also highlights a July 23 meeting in Talbot County where approximately 130 farmers and other stakeholders met with and raised their concerns with state officials.
Farmers, wastewater managers and environmentalists have found common ground — they share anger about proposed state manure and fertilizer management regulations that could be approved as early as next month.
The regulations were designed “to achieve consistency in the way all nutrients are managed and help Maryland meet nitrogen and phosphorus reduction goals” for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, according to the Maryland Department of Agriculture, which drafted the legislation.
The goals are part of a Watershed Improvement Plan required of states in the Bay’s watershed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to make more progress in a three-decades-old effort to reduce Bay pollution.
But the farmers say too much of the cleanup burden is falling on them — and at a huge financial cost.
And wastewater managers say they cannot meet the storage requirements expected of them. Hundreds of thousands of tons of treated sewage sludge would have to be stored for almost half a year, they say.
Finally, at least some environmentalists are unhappy — but for a different reason. They say the requirements don’t go far enough, fast enough to clean and protect the Bay.