Your Map to the Bay TMDL Mid-Point Assessment & Phase III WIPs

The Chesapeake Bay Program has prepared a timeline and explanatory sheet highlighting how the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) mid-point assessment and development of the Phase III Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) will work. The sheet includes key dates for local government engagement. The Bay Program will update the sheet as necessary.

The mid-point assessment is a review of progress the Bay watershed states and local governments have made to date in meeting their TMDL restoration goals. Additionally, the assessment will review the efficacy of the current version of the Bay model and potentially propose changes. Changes to the model could result in new nutrient and sediment reduction targets for both states and local governments as the TMDL enters its final phase. All TMDL goals must be met by 2025.

The assessment will also figure heavily in the development of state and local Phase III WIPs. The Phase III WIPs will chart the nutrient and sediment actions governments will take during the final years of the TMDL. Most of the “low hanging fruit” in Bay restoration, such as upgrading wastewater treatment plants to enhanced nutrient removal, have already been performed leaving more difficult and costly reduction measures for Phase III.

With the conclusion of the mid-point assessment and development of the Phase III WIPs, 2018 will be a critical year for the Bay TMDL. MACo has long advocated for certainty in the Bay TMDL nutrient and sediment targets and for maximum flexibility in meeting these goals. MACo will continue to support cost-effective methods to achieve realistic outcomes  as the Bay TMDL enters the “home stretch.”

Useful Links

Chesapeake Bay Program

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL

Worcester Honors Passing of Warden Garry Mumford

 

 

 

 

A Worcester County news release (2017-04-23) reported on the passing of County Warden Garry Mumford and praised his long service to the County. From the news release:

It is with heavy hearts that we honor the memory of our dear friend and colleague, Worcester County Jail Warden Garry Mumford, who passed away Saturday, April 22, 2017, after a brief illness.

Warden Mumford, who was born on November 28, 1959, graduated from Salisbury University, with a bachelor’s degree in social work in 1981. After graduating, he served as a military police investigator, juvenile investigator, and drug investigator in the United States Army from 1982 to 1987.

He joined the Worcester County team in late 1987, as an investigator with the State’s Attorney’s Office. During that time, he attended the Eastern Shore Criminal Justice Academy at Wor-Wic Community College, where he earned certification as a law enforcement officer by December 1988. In December 2000, he was promoted to the position of assistant warden/security and custody officer at the County Jail, and in April 2011 he was promoted to warden, after former Warden Ira F. “Buck” Shockley retired from the County.

Garry Mumford (Source: Worcester County)

Warden Mumford was known for his professionalism, his commitment, and his courteous treatment of all. His leadership played a key role in the Worcester County Jail having been recognized consecutively for the past 14 years with the Recognition of Achievement Award from the Maryland Commission on Correctional Standards (MCCS) for achieving 100% compliance with Maryland regulations for the quality of service he and his staff provided. He was known and respected throughout the state for his fair, humane, and respectful treatment of all at the Jail, from the inmates to their families and friends, to their attorneys and to anyone else involved.

“Last night Worcester County lost Warden Garry Mumford,” Commission President Jim Bunting said. “Garry was a dedicated and highly respected leader in our community. On a personal level, we have been friends since we were young boys. I will miss Garry. God bless him and his family.”

Warden Mumford was especially proud of his staff, quickly giving them credit for the high standards to which he held his agency. After receiving the most recent MCCS award, Warden Mumford said of his staff, “The County is fortunate to have this wonderful group of employees who care about the quality of services provided at the Jail.” Again in 2016, he said publicly of his staff, “The correctional officers at any correctional facility have the awesome responsibility of serving, managing, and safeguarding the welfare of inmates each and every day, and our officers here at the Worcester County Jail do it in such a way that all of us should be proud.”

“Warden Mumford led our team for the past six years,” Assistant Warden Donna Bounds said. “As our leader, he gave his heart and soul to everyone he encountered on a daily basis. Warden Mumford provided strong leadership and was a great teacher, but most of all a great friend. The Worcester County Jail is struggling today with this tremendous loss of our leader and friend.”

In addition to his leadership at the Jail, Warden Mumford was also extremely active in the community. He was a member of the Atlantic General Hospital Board of Directors and former Worcester County Board of Education member. His professional and volunteer contributions made a positive impact on those of all ages. He is survived by his cherished wife of more than 19 years and retired Clerk of Court employee, Faith.

 

Worcester County Adopts New Zoning For Large Poultry Farms

A New Food Economy article (2017-04-25) reported that the Worcester County Board of County Commissioners has passed County Bill 17-3, which creates more rigorous zoning classification for large poultry farms. From the article:

A standard chicken house has over 40,000 square feet of floor space and will hold tens of thousands of birds. The new law stipulates that only eight of those chicken houses can be built on any parcel of land. In addition, large operations—defined as farms with more than five houses on one property—must set all structures at least 200 feet back from all property lines, and build a three-rowed buffer of trees and vegetation along the boundary. …

Worcester is following the lead of two neighboring counties on the Delmarva Peninsula, the easternmost part of Maryland, which juts like a talon into the Atlantic. In August, Somerset County passed a similar law, and was followed closely by Wicomico County. The Delmarva region, which also includes much of Delaware, is one of the country’s most prolific producers of meat chickens. In 2014, farms there produced 596 million broilers, or chickens raised for meat—almost 7 percent of the country’s total production on just a tiny fraction of its land mass.

The new rule won’t change much for existing operations with more than eight barns. They’ll have to build the buffers, and they won’t be able to add any new facilities without subdividing property, but their existing operations will otherwise be grandfathered in.

Useful Links

Worcester County Website

Worcester County Bill 17-3

DNR Reports Bay Grasses at Record Levels

A Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) news post (2017-04-27) reported that the Chesapeake Bay’s underwater grass coverage has increased for 4 straight years, reaching a record 59,277 acres in the Maryland portion of the Bay. Underwater grass and vegetation coverage is one of the key indicators of the Bay’s health.  The news post also announced that all or part of 10 rivers surpassed their restoration goals. From the news post:

[The current Bay grass coverage] represents a 10 percent increase from 2015, and also surpasses Maryland’s 2017 restoration goal of 57,000 acres one year ahead of schedule.

“These underwater grasses are essential to a healthy and sustainable ecosystem,” Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said. “It’s encouraging that Maryland is exceeding our Chesapeake Bay restoration goals and continuing to measure improved water quality throughout the watershed.”

Also known as submerged aquatic vegetation or SAV, underwater grasses absorb and filter out nutrients and sediment, reduce shoreline erosion, provide habitat and protection for species like the blue crab and largemouth bass, and support and sustain migrating waterfowl.

In Maryland, all or part of 10 rivers surpassed their restoration goals:

  • Big Annemessex River at 169 percent;
  • Chesapeake and Delaware Canal at 305 percent;
  • Chester River (brackish portion) at 132 percent;
  • Chester River (tidal fresh portion) at 35,833 percent;
  • Elk River at 199 percent;
  • Fishing Bay at 158 percent;
  • Gunpowder River at 128 percent;
  • Honga River at 101 percent;
  • Manokin River at 181 percent;
  • Middle River at 108 percent; and
  • Northeast River at 101 percent.

An additional six segments reached 75 percent or more of their restoration goals.

The rise in underwater grasses is attributed to an expansion of widgeon grass – characterized by scientists as a boom-or-bust plant – in portions of the midbay region, and to a variety of freshwater grasses, like wild celery that grow in the upper and fresher portions of the bay.

Maryland’s biggest and most iconic underwater grass bed, located in the Susquehanna Flats, has been steadily recovering since 2012, and reached more than 5,900 acres in 2016, showcasing the bed’s continued resilience.

Water monitoring results for the Eastern Shore indicate long-term improvements in clarity as a result of reduced nutrients and sediments. Bay grasses in this region responded to the improving water conditions for the fourth year in a row and are continuing to provide increased habitat for aquatic species like the blue crab.

The annual underwater grass aerial survey was conducted by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science between May and November 2016. Air space restrictions and weather prevented complete surveys of the Upper and Lower Potomac River, including Piscataway Creek. If these areas had been fully mapped, observations suggest that Maryland’s acreage would have been even higher in 2016.

Useful Links

DNR Bay Grass Webpage

Virginia Institute of Marine Science Chesapeake & Atlantic Coastal Bays SAV Website

St. Mary’s Parks Director Brian Loewe Resigns

 

 

 

 

 

St. Mary’s County news release (2017-04-19) announced the immediate resignation of the County’s Recreation and Parks Director, Brian Loewe. From the release:

Brian Loewe, Director of St. Mary’s County Recreation and Parks, has resigned his position effective immediately.

Loewe headed the department since April 23, 2012 after arriving from Charles County, where he served in various positions, including Sports Program Coordinator and Parks Manager.

“I would like to thank St. Mary’s County Government for the opportunities that were provided to me over the past five years as director of Recreation and Parks,” said Loewe. “I’d like to thank the Recreation and Parks staff for their hard work and dedication during our time together.”

“I’m saddened to learn of Brian’s decision to resign as head of our Recreation and Parks department,” said Commissioner President Randy Guy. “Brian brought a number of innovative programs to the department and was a champion of recreation programs throughout the county. I join my fellow commissioners in thanking him for his service to St. Mary’s County and wish him well in his future endeavors.”

Former Recreation and Parks Manager Arthur Sheppard has agreed to serve as interim Recreation and Parks director effective April 24.

 

LGAC Calls For Maintaining Federal Bay Funding

The Local Government Advisory Committee (LGAC) added its voice to the chorus of advocates calling for at least maintaining the current level of federal funding ($73 million) for Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts. Under President Donald Trump’s proposed FY 2018 budget, Bay funding is zeroed out.

From a letter (2017-04-04) LGAC sent to the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council:

We are writing to request your support in advocating for maintaining EPA Chesapeake Bay Program funding at the current level of $73 million. …

The elimination of funding for the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program, as proposed in the President’s 2018 Budget Blueprint, will limit our ability to protect healthy waters, put a halt to many local water protection and restoration initiatives, and threaten the scientific integrity of the restoration effort.

Local governments throughout the watershed are investing millions of dollars to protect and restore local waters. Bay Program funding and other federal programs such as the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, along with state funding, are vital to our success.

We know you share our understanding that a healthy Chesapeake Bay is an economic engine for our region and a critical resource for our nation and hope that we can count on your support of our efforts.

LGAC is an advisory body created in 1993 that provides input the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on building relationships with and providing assistance to local governments regarding environmental services and programs, including Bay restoration activities. LGAC’s membership includes local elected and appointed officials, state representatives, environmental interest groups, and labor interests.

Useful Links

LGAC Letter to Chesapeake Bay Executive Council

EPA’s LGAC Webpage

 

Study Finds Freshwater Lakes at Risk From Road Salt

A Sustainable City Network article (2017-04-19) reported that many Midwestern and Northeastern lakes are seeing increases in their salt levels based on the application of road salt to nearby streets and highways. The finding is based on a recently published study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which examined 371 freshwater lakes larger than 4 hectares and with at least 10 years of previous recorded chloride data.

The study found that 44 percent of sampled lakes are undergoing long-term salinization. The study was conducted by the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON) Fellowship Program. From the article:

Lead author Hilary Dugan, a limnologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and former Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies Postdoctoral Fellow, explains, “We compiled long-term data, and compared chloride concentrations in North American lakes and reservoirs to climate and land use patterns, with the goal of revealing whether, how, and why salinization is changing across broad geographic scales. The picture is sobering. For lakes, small amounts of shoreline development translate into big salinization risks.” …

Since the 1940s, the use of road salt to keep winter roads navigable has been escalating. Each year, some 23 million metric tons of sodium chloride-based deicer is applied to North America’s roads to melt away snow and ice. Much of this road salt washes into nearby water bodies, where it is recognized as a major source of chloride pollution to groundwater, streams, rivers, and lakes.

To gauge road salt exposure, the research team assessed road density and land cover within a 100- to 1,500-meter buffer around each of the 371 study lakes. Roadways and impervious surfaces such as parking lots and sidewalks are reliable proxies for road salt application because as developed areas, they are susceptible to high levels of salting and runoff.

Results were clear: roads and other impervious surfaces within 500 meters of a lake’s shoreline were a strong predictor of elevated chloride concentrations. In the North American Lakes Region, 70 percent (94 out of 134) of lakes with more than 1 percent impervious land cover in their 500-meter buffer zone had increasing chloride trends. When results are extrapolated to all lakes in the North American Lakes Region, some 7,770 lakes may be at risk of rising salinity.

The article noted that high chloride levels can negatively affect a lake’s animal and plant ecosystem, resulting in a decline in species richness and abundance and also create low oxygen conditions that kill aquatic life and degrade water quality. In response to the findings, the study’s authors call for better shoreline management and lake monitoring practices:

The study’s authors recommend that best lake management practices recognize that shoreline management extends well beyond a lake’s perimeter. While many states and municipalities acknowledge the importance of shoreline management, they note that zoning regulations are often only enforced within 300 meters, and many lakes lack the monitoring programs needed to adequately track lake health.

Coauthor and Fellowship advisor Kathleen Weathers, an ecosystem scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and co-chair of GLEON, comments, “In the North American Lakes Region – where road salt is a reality – roads and other impervious surfaces within 500 meters of a lake’s shoreline are a recipe for salinization. We need to manage and monitor lakes to ensure they are kept ‘fresh’ and protect the myriad of services they provide, from fisheries and recreation to drinking water supplies.”

A lake’s chloride status may also provide a window into the ecological health of its watershed. Co-author Samantha Burke, a graduate student at the University of Waterloo, adds, “Unlike flowing streams and rivers, water resides in lakes for long periods of time. This makes them vulnerable to pollution from their watersheds and good early warning indicators of environmental disruption.

Useful Links

GLEON Website

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies Website

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of Road Salt Issues

Frederick County Asks PSC For Pause in Solar Projects While Finalizing Zoning Bill

A Frederick News-Post article (2017-04-19) reported that Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner and County Council Vice President M.C. Keegan-Ayer a letter to the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) on April 11 requesting the PSC hold consideration of two utility scale solar projects while the County finalizes zoning legislation for solar farm siting. The two projects, LeGore Bridge Solar Center and Biggs Ford Solar Center, have applied for a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) with the PSC and have requested expedited consideration. The PSC must grant a CPCN before the projects can begin construction. From the article:

The intent of the letter was to make the commission aware that the County Council was working on local legislation, Gardner said Tuesday. …

Keegan-Ayer wrote the [zoning] bill that is currently in front on the council, which would regulate the construction of commercial-scale solar on agricultural land. The bill protects the county’s prime agricultural soils and the viewshed along U.S. 15, which is also recognized as the Journey Through Hallowed Ground.

Another aim of the letter was to alert the commission that the companies may be trying to accelerate their applications and projects in order to circumvent the county’s solar bill, should it pass, Keegan-Ayer said. …

“We’re really trying to strike a balance between the needs of green energy and solar collection, and … our agricultural communities and our agricultural heritage,” Gardner said.

The article also discussed energy siting legislation (HB 1350 of 2017) that was passed by the Maryland General Assembly and is awaiting signing by Governor Lawrence “Larry” Hogan. The legislation was a MACo 2017 Legislative Initiative designed to give a greater local government voice in the siting of energy generation facilities.

Across Maryland, local jurisdictions are having issues controlling energy development, said Leslie Knapp, legal and policy counsel for the Maryland Association of Counties. There have already been lawsuits in Kent County over a solar project and in Allegany County about a wind project.

A state bill that passed both chambers of the General Assembly last session requires the commission to consider whether a proposed energy generating station is consistent with a jurisdiction’s comprehensive plan and its zoning.

The article stated that the current version of the County’s zoning legislation would limit commercial solar facilities  on agricultural land to 75 acres.
Useful Links

Legislators & Environmental Advocates Urge Trump to Fund Bay Restoration

A Capital Gazette article (2017-04-17) reported that a coalition of environmental advocates and predominantly Democratic legislators urged President Donald Trump to provide $100 million in funding for Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts. Trump’s proposed budget is provides $0 for the Bay clean up, representing a $73 million reduction.

From the article:

“The federal partner must not quit now,” Chesapeake Bay Foundation president William Baker said. “It’s critical for human health, and it’s central to our economy.” …

By highlighting two Eastern Shore leaders — Salisbury’s Democratic Mayor Jake Day and Del. Sheree Sample-Hughes, D-Salisbury — the group focused much of the Monday press conference on the poultry industry’s effect on the Bay with the Chesapeake Bay Bridge’s shadow at their backs. …

Sen. Ben Cardin said the repeal of federal money threatens to undermine progress made to bring back the waterman and crabbing industries. …

Cardin also highlighted Republican Rep. Andy Harris and his support for restoring the federal funding, saying the issue of Bay cleanup is “bi-partisan.” …

While five House Republicans joined 12 Democrats in writing a letter urging Trump to maintain the Bay cleanup budget, it’s unclear what level a GOP-led Congress would attempt to restore the money.

 

Unfinished Business Over Medical Cannabis, Parental Rights Push Calls for Special Session

A Baltimore Sun article (2017-04-18) reported that the late-Session failure of two bills have prompted calls for the Maryland General Assembly to reconvene in a special session. The two bills dealt with issuing licenses to minority-owned medical cannabis firms and removing the parental rights of alleged rapists. From the article:

In the final hours of this year’s session, lawmakers failed to pass a bill that would have let rape victims who become pregnant during the assault terminate parental rights of their alleged attackers. …

The other [failed bill] would have expanded the medical marijuana industry to specifically include minority-owned firms, and the Legislative Black Caucus has demanded the governor and presiding officers recall lawmakers to Annapolis to pass it.

On Tuesday, [Senate President Thomas V. “Mike”] Miller acknowledged that no conversations have taken place to reach a deal on calling a special session. Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch remain divided on whether the medical marijuana expansion should automatically award licenses to two specific companies.

“We haven’t talked about it,” Miller told reporters after a bill signing in Annapolis.

But Miller said that if a special session is called, he wants to revisit the proposed law about parental rights of alleged rapists.