With officials from across Maryland attending the MACo summer conference, one topic gaining substantial attention is the ongoing effort to develop and implement watershed implementation plans, part of the federally required “pollution diet” for the Chesapeake Bay watershed area. Under a timetable and guidelines overseen by the Maryland Department of the Environment, countywide implementation plans are in development, and frequently triggering staggering cost estimates for full implementation.
One educational session featured on Thursday afternoon of the conference was entitled “Maryland’s Watershed Implementation: Much To Do In Stage Two,” and included several perspectives on accomplishing these complex goals. U.S. Senator Ben Cardin spoke about the federal policy and direction for the effort, and commented on efforts to provide technical and funding assistance for state and local implementation. Shawn Garvin, Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, addressed the federal standards and priorities in watershed protection. Eileen Straghan, a consultant working with numerous Maryland governments, spoke to implementation options for stormwater mitigation and offset options.
A meeting of county chief administrative officers on Friday morning also touched on implementation issues, and will be working with MACo on further dissemination of best practices options, and continuing to advocate for maximum local flexibility.