Attendees to the 2015 MACo Summer Conference were updated on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement management strategies on August 12. The 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement consolidated commitments from six states and the District of Columbia to develop and follow 29 management strategies for 31 Bay cleanup goals. The strategies include the Bay Total Maximum Daily Load and other federal water quality mandates but also address issues like habitat and fisheries restoration, climate change, and the release of toxic chemicals into the Bay.
(From Left to Right, Speakers Albert Todd, Benjamin Grumbles, Mark Belton, and Moderator Charles Otto)
Maryland Secretary of Natural Resources Mark Belton said a new mission of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was to target nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment, noting that Maryland was the only Bay state that was “green across the board” in meeting its watershed agreement goals. DNR will take a 2-pronged approach to the agreement: (1) making sure Maryland remains a leader in its progress; and (2) making sure the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) holds other states accountable for their performance. He also discussed key funding sources for local water quality projects.
Maryland Secretary of the Environment Benjamin Grumbles stated the Department of the Environment (MDE) was taking a “citizen-centered, results oriented, market-based” approach to the Bay agreement. This means a focus on local and regional actions that are both practical and produce maximum results for the resources invested. He also noted Maryland must be “polite but persistent” in working with EPA and other states to ensure all states are meeting their goals. Regarding recent Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit issues, Grumbles complimented MACo on helping to “make a road map for moving forward.” He also stated the nutrient credit trading regulations were going to be released by the Maryland Department of Agriculture and that finishing an “Accounting for Growth” policy was a priority for MDE.
Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay Executive Director Albert Todd discussed local government participation in the management strategies. After outlining the background and purpose of the Local Government Advisory Committee (LGAC), he noted that LGAC is focusing on six strategies where local governments can or are already playing a role: (1) water quality and stormwater; (2) stream health; (3) land conservation; (4) healthy watersheds; (5) stewardship; and (6) urban tree canopy.
Maryland Delegate Charles Otto moderated the Session.