The House Environmental Matters Committee held a briefing on the state of the Chesapeake Bay on January 16.
Representatives from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) discussed the findings of CBF’s 2012 State of the Bay Report. The report provides a 2-year snapshot on the health of the Bay through 13 indicators related to pollution, habitat, and fisheries. CBF testified that the Bay continues to make modest improvements, with 5 of the 13 indicators improving, 7 remaining the same, and one (bay grasses) declining. CBF also noted that Maryland has achieved 50% of its Bay restoration goals, with pollution from all sectors decreasing except for urban/suburban stormwater runoff.
Representatives from the Chesapeake Bay Commission also testified, focusing on three “hot button” issues related to Bay Restoration: (1) verification of best management practices; (2) costs to local governments; (3) and the Conowingo Dam. “The burden that is on local governments is enormous,” Chesapeake Bay Commission Executive Director Ann Swanson stated. She noted that while the two primary areas of local government responsibility, septic system and stormwater pollution, account for about 25% of the total pollution entering the Bay, they are also among the most expensive to mitigate.
Committee Chair Maggie McIntosh announced that she is also now the Chair of the Bay Commission and that she viewed addressing the Conowingo Dam issue as an important priority. She stressed the need to get the United States Environmental Protection Agency engaged in the permit renewal process of the Conowingo.
January 2 CBF Press Release on Report