Conowingo, PMT & Green Amendment Among Waterkeepers Chesapeake 2019 Initiatives

A Waterkeepers Chesapeake post (2018-01-30) outlined the group’s 2019 Maryland environmental priorities, including the Conowingo Dam, the Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT), and a “Green” constitutional amendment.

Waterkeepers Chesapeake is a coalition group of 18 waterkeeper programs from throughout the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays area. The group supports Bay and water quality initiatives both at the local level through grassroots action and advocacy and regionally through leveraging its members’ strengths and capacities. Waterkeepers Chesapeake also annually sets legislative priorities for the Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia legislatures.

In Maryland, the group is focused on: (1) a resolution for the Conowingo Dam, (2) the Green Amendment; (3) Pipeline and Water Protection Act; (4) Phosphorus Management Tool update legislation; (5) foam ban; (6) Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) Act; and (7) Fair Farms campaign priorities.

From the post:

Resolution on Conowingo Dam: Our number one priority in Maryland is to pass a state resolution on Conowingo Dam. The resolution we drafted specifies that the Maryland General Assembly is of the view that Exelon Corporation – the private company that operates and profits from the dam – must pay its fair share (20 – 25%) of the total clean-up costs associated Conowingo Dam under the state’s Water Quality Certification and the Conowingo Dam Watershed Implementation Plan. …

Green Amendment – This bill offers a self-executing, statewide Amendment to the bill of rights section of our state Constitution and will give us the right to clean air, water, and a healthy environment. This Amendment will give individuals standing in court to be able to sue if they feel the environment is threatened or their health is adversely affected. …

Phosphorus Management Tool Update Legislation — By law, the State of Maryland already requires agricultural producers to utilize a Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) to track where the important nutrient phosphorous is needed and where there is too much of it. Applying phosphorous to land that has too much leads to pollution and ultimately to infamous dead zones. In practice, this law is not always working as it’s supposed to. The update legislation provides needed clarification to make sure that responsible operators are left unburdened while irresponsible operators are made to pay and are held accountable for intentionally using poor farming techniques — or applying too much phosphorus-laden manure that results in phosphorus being dumped into Maryland waterways. The bill also would build in key recordkeeping requirements for private companies that transport manure off of Maryland farms so that we can understand the full picture of the amount of manure being generated and moved off the Eastern Shore. It also would re-commission nine water quality monitoring stations on the Lower Eastern Shore so we can get a better understand the quality of our local waterways.

The post also outlined the group’s Virginia priorities, including: (1) the safe disposal of coal ash; (2) securing clean water and conservation funding; and (3) prohibiting offshore oil and natural gas drilling.

Useful Links

Waterkeepers Chesapeake Website