Healthy Waters Round Table Releases Action Plan for Eastern Shore Water Quality

A December 10, 2015, press release announced the release of an action plan by the Healthy Waters Round Table to address water quality needs on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. As previously reported on Conduit Street, Eastern Shore county and municipal officials have been meeting since August to identify and address the needs of local governments in meeting their water quality and stormwater treatment goals under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and their local TMDLs. From the press release:

Representatives from all nine Eastern Shore counties in Maryland, as well as from Berlin, Cambridge, Chestertown, Easton, Oxford, and Salisbury, have agreed to an action plan to expedite restoration of Shore creeks and rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. The group of more than 30 local government representatives, known as the Healthy Waters Round Table, recommended five preliminary steps to pursue in 2016.

With help from five supporting non-profit, academic and research organizations, the group narrowed down a list of 120 ideas into a handful of initial actions that could be accomplished with existing resources. They also identified longer-range actions that could be achieved with added resources.

“Many local leaders on Maryland’s Eastern Shore care deeply about the value that clean water brings to local economies and the region’s quality of life,” said Dirck Bartlett, a round table participant who serves on the Talbot County Council. “But we have a long way to go to meet goals for cleaner water on the Shore. This plan allows for the counties and municipalities here to work together on the most practical, cost-effective clean-up strategies.”

The five preliminary steps recommended for 2016 are: provide grant writing training; create and distribute model documents for soliciting grants and consulting services; secure staff training for the Maryland Assessment Scenario Tool (MAST), a web-based nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment load estimator tool to streamline environmental planning; provide staff training in social marketing and public education; and obtain clarity and guidance on state stormwater management expectations and priorities for Eastern Shore communities.

Longer-term priorities of the group include:

 Identify and prioritize means to fill gaps in funding water quality control projects;

 Streamline the process for tracking and reporting of Best Management Practices;

 Develop policies and procedures for expanding sewer service to appropriate areas currently utilizing septic systems;

 Create a circuit rider system to assist jurisdictions with specific contractor help;

 Establish a sharable clearinghouse of methods, approaches and resources for reducing pollution; and

 Improve the maintenance of existing devices and practices used to control polluted runoff. …

The Eastern Shore leaders who participated in the program said they value the opportunity to work cooperatively on the best methods for achieving clean water.

“With the Healthy Waters Round Table, we’re working across county and town lines to share knowledge and experience, maximize limited resources, and procure new funding and assistance,” said Queen Anne’s County Board of Commissioners president Jim Moran.

Healthy Waters Action Plan