Baltimore City Awarded $380,000 for Stormwater Mitigation Projects

A Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) press release (2018-06-20) announced that Baltimore City has been awarded $380,000 in general obligation bond proceeds for the construction of two stormwater management projects: (1) the Druid Heights Community Development Corporation at Jones Falls/Patapsco River; and (2) the Parks and People Foundation at Baltimore Harbor. The bond proceeds were unanimously approved by the Maryland Board of Public Works. From the press release:

“Working with local communities and partners, the department identifies and prioritizes projects aimed at accelerating Chesapeake Bay restoration in the most cost-effective and efficient manner, enhancing water quality while reducing overall costs,” Maryland Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said. “We are leveraging existing state funds for the completion of these two Baltimore City projects, which were selected due to their strong local support and impact on the bay.”

The two projects are:

Druid Heights Community Development Corporation
Jones Falls/Patapsco River
$200,000
As part of a larger neighborhood and revitalization effort, funding will convert a 3,600-square foot vacant lot into an environmental enhancement that will include three stormwater bioretention areas, pervious surfacing and the planting of 10 trees.

Parks and People Foundation
Baltimore Harbor
$180,000
As part of a larger park revitalization project, funding will install four stormwater bioretention areas, 5,000-square feet of pervious surface, remediate 11,500-square feet of soil and the planting of 20 trees.

Funding for the two projects would come through the department’s Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund as well as the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s Community Legacy Program, Project C.O.R.E. (Creating Opportunities for Renewal and Enterprise), Baltimore Regional Neighborhood Initiative and Keep Maryland Beautiful.

Useful Links

Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund Web Page

Sustainable Communities Web Page

Project CORE Web Page

Baltimore Regional Neighborhood Initiative Web Page

Keep Maryland Beautiful Web Page

Earth, Wind, Fire, WATER – All Together at #MACoCon

Juiced up about Maryland’s renewable energy portfolio? We are, too. Interestingly, Maryland’s rich water wealth helps drive our renewable energy advancements – both by providing resources necessary for offshore wind, and also by providing an opportunity to use energy generation to keep that water clean.

Get plugged in about the latest in offshore wind and animal waste-to-energy at the this year’s MACo Summer Conference, “Water, Water Everywhere,” August 15-18, 2018 at the Rowland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland.

Title: Earth, Wind, Fire, WATER: Powering Your County’s Future

wind-energy-2029621_1280Description: Water plays a remarkable role in advancing our state’s progress in renewable energy generation. The “big fans” of offshore wind certainly know this well. Interestingly, renewable energy options can also help keep the Bay clean, in return.  Over the past three years, the State of Maryland has funded nearly $5 million dollars to encourage technology that provides alternative strategies for managing animal manure on Maryland farms. Animal Waste-to-Energy specific technologies generate energy from animal manure – and keep that, um…stuff…out of the Chesapeake Bay. Join renewable energy experts for this exploration into the interplay between water and clean energy generation.

Speakers:

  • Jeffrey Grybowski, Chief Executive Officer, Deepwater Wind
  • John Fiastro, Director of Government Affairs and Communications, Maryland Energy Administration

Date/Time: Thursday, August 16, 2018; 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

The MACo Summer Conference will be held The conference’s theme is “Water, Water Everywhere.”

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Bay “Dead Zone” Predicted to be Larger Than Normal Due to Heavy Spring Rains

Star Democrat article (2018-06-20) reported that University of Maryland and University of Michigan scientists are predicting a larger-than-average hypoxic (low oxygen) and anoxic (no oxygen) dead zones in the Chesapeake Bay this year. The article noted that the main cause is the heavier than normal spring rainfall. The primary cause of these dead zones is excess nutrient pollution, such as from wastewater, stormwater runoff, or agricultural runoff, that causes algae blooms which then die and leech oxygen from the water as they decompose. Various climate factors, such as rainfall, can also influence the intensity and size of these dead zones.

Despite the larger than normal prediction for this year, Bay restoration efforts are having a positive long-term effect on the dead zones. From the article:

“Despite the forecast, bottom dissolved oxygen concentrations in Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay mainstem have continued to increase since 2014, and last year we recorded the second-smallest hypoxic volume ever,” said Bruce Michael, director of the Resource Assessment Service at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. “The bay is rebounding and responding, as seen by record submerged aquatic vegetation totals. Our strategic investments and sacrifices aimed at reducing nutrients and sediment are working, but more can still be done throughout the watershed.”

A Chesapeake Biological Laboratory news release (2018-06-18) provides further information:

This year, the anoxic portion of the hypoxic zone is predicted to be 0.43 cubic miles (1.78 cubic kilometers) in early summer and 0.41 cubic miles (1.7 cubic kilometers) in late summer.

“The Chesapeake Bay’s response to reductions in nutrient pollution may be gradual, involve lags, and be interrupted by the weather,” said report co-author Jeremy Testa of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Chesapeake Biological Laboratory. “The forecast illustrates these challenges well.”

Measurements of the Chesapeake Bay’s dead zone go back to 1950, and the 30-year mean maximum dead zone volume is 1.74 cubic miles.

To learn more about the overall health of the Bay and the current and future direction of restoration efforts, attend the “Clear Water: The State of the Bay” general session at the upcoming 2018 MACo Summer Conference in Ocean City, Maryland. The Conference runs from August 15-18.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Health of the Bay Highlighted at #MACoCon

Get an update on the health of the Chesapeake Bay, the path of current and pending restoration efforts, and related federal water issues at the 2018 MACo Summer Conference.

Clear Water: The State of the Bay

Description

The Chesapeake Bay is a defining natural, cultural, and economic centerpiece of the state of Maryland. This precious and unique resource has been subject to significant restoration efforts over the last decade, with significant contributions by county governments. Panelists will discuss the current health of the Bay, including: water quality, aquatic vegetation, wildlife habitat, and fishery health. They will also discuss the progress made to date on Bay restoration goals and the future of restoration efforts, including the likely role of county governments.

Speakers

  • Ben Grumbles, Secretary of the Environment, Maryland Department of the Environment
  • Mark Belton, Secretary of Natural Resources, Maryland Department of Natural Resources
  • Alison Prost, Maryland Executive Director, Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  • Julie Ufner, Environment, Energy and Land Use Associate Legislative Director, National Association of Counties

Date & TimeFriday, August 17, 2018; 9:00 am – 10:15 am

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Environmental Groups Appeal Maryland’s Conowingo Dam Certification

A joint press release (2018-06-12) issued by Waterkeepers Chesapeake, the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association, and Earthjustice announced that several of the environmental groups have filed an administrative appeal challenging the Maryland Department of the Environment’s (MDE’s) recent decision to grant Exelon a Water Quality Certification for the relicensing of the Conowingo Dam with special conditions requiring Exelon to address the nutrient and sediment pollution generated by the dam and its reservoir. As previously reported on Conduit Street, Exelon has appealed the special conditions of the certification, arguing that the Dam does not actually create the water pollution that is being released by it. The environmental groups are arguing the opposite – that the special conditions do not go far enough to address water quality concerns.

From the press release:

Waterkeepers Chesapeake and the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association filed an administrative appeal on June 8, 2018, urging the Maryland Department of the Environment to reconsider its recent water quality certification for the Conowingo Dam, which is owned and operated by Exelon Corporation. Exelon has requested a new 50-year federal license to operate the dam, and, in order to receive that license, the State of Maryland must certify that the dam’s operations will not adversely impact water quality under the Clean Water Act.

“This is one of the most important decisions in the effort to clean up the Chesapeake Bay,” said Betsy Nicholas, executive director of Waterkeepers Chesapeake, a coalition of 19 independent waterkeeper organizations. “We shouldn’t be approving a 50-year license without a solid, accountable plan for removing sediment from behind the dam.”

The Conowingo Dam was completed in 1928 and, since that time, it has been trapping sediment and nutrient pollution from the Susquehanna River and its 27,000-square-mile drainage area. Sediment is one of the three key pollutants, along with nitrogen and phosphorus, that is regulated under the federal Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan, known as the TMDL.

Scientists have concluded that the reservoir behind the dam is now at capacity and cannot trap any more sediment. After large storms, powerful floodwaters can scoop out or “scour” the stored sediment behind the dam and send that downstream to the Chesapeake Bay in the form of pollution.

“Sediment runoff from agriculture and development has been stockpiling behind Conowingo dam for nearly 100 years,” said Ted Evgeniadis, Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper. “The Susquehanna River is a public resource, and Exelon profits from operating a dam on it. Exelon therefore shares a responsibility to help prevent this sediment from polluting the Bay and we believe the State of Maryland must hold them accountable to do so.”

Waterkeepers Chesapeake, Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association and Earthjustice submitted public comments during the relicensing process. The organizations say that the Maryland Department of the Environment has failed to address them.

The organizations also say that, for the certification to protect water quality, the State must understand the full potential of large flooding events that could cause dramatic harm to the Bay. The new license covers 50 years, but the State has yet to conduct a study or model how much sediment pollution would be scoured from behind the dam during a 50-year storm, or even a 25-year storm, which has an 83 percent chance of occurring during the license period. Scientists say large storms and heavy rain events are happening more frequently due to climate change, which means the risk of a catastrophic storm continues to increase.

“In just the last month, we’ve seen serious, damaging flooding throughout the region,” said Nicholas. “It’s irresponsible not to account for the increasingly likelihood that Conowingo Dam experiences a major flood during the next fifty years.”

The Maryland Department of the Environment issued its water quality certification for the Conowingo Dam on May 11, 2018. While the certification acknowledged the impact of the dam on water quality, including the threat posed by the accumulated sediment, it does not put specific measures in place to address the sediment.

“When Congress adopted the Clean Water Act, it purposefully gave states a very broad authority on federal permits,” said Jennifer Chavez, attorney for Earthjustice, which is serving as legal counsel for the appeal. “We’ve filed this request for reconsideration because we want to ensure that Maryland uses the best available science before exercising that critical authority.”

The Maryland Department of the Environment will review the appeal and either grant the request to reconsider and revise the certification or deny it. There is no deadline by which the Department must make its decision.

Useful Links

Prior Conduit Street article on Exelon Appealing MDE Conowingo Decision (2018-06-01)

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of Exelon and the Conowingo Dam

Waterkeepers Chesapeake Website

Earthjustice Website

NJIT Offers Two Free Brownfield Training Sessions

 

 

 

The New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is offering two one-day training sessions on brownfield redevelopment on August 1 and 2 in Catonsville, MD. The courses are part of NJIT’s Technical Assistance to Brownfield Communities Program (TAB).

TAB Background

Basic background on the program is provided by an NJIT TAB Flyer:

NJIT provides free technical assistance to state, regional, county, tribal, and local government entities and nonprofit organizations interested in learning about, identifying, assessing, cleaning up, and redeveloping brownfield sites in EPA Region 1 (New England), Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic), and Region 4(Southeast).

Types of Assistance provided by NJIT TAB include (but are not limited to):

  • Guidance on funding opportunities
  • Explaining laws and regulations
  • Navigating regulatory programs
  • Consultant Procurement (review of draft RFPs, creation of evaluation criteria, consultant selection)
  • Review and critique of grant applications
  • Interpretation of technical and scientific reports and data (such as site characterization results)
  • Development of Strategic Plans
  • Development of community specific site evaluation and prioritization processes
  • Development of Corridor Assets and Needs Studies
  • Development of Site Redevelopment Visions
  • Explaining clean-up technologies
  • Design and conduct of community engagement activities
  • Educational workshops such as Brownfields 101
  • Seminars, Webinars, and Boot Camps on specific brownfield related topics
  • Community planning and visioning workshops
  • All-EPA Brownfield grantee meetings
  • And much more!

All services under TAB are provided free of charge.

Brownfield Basics Seminar

Date & Time: August 1, 2018, 1:00 pm – 4:30 pm

Location: 5522 Research Park Dr. Catonsville, MD 21228

Basic Information from the Brownfield Basics Flyer:

WHAT:  Join us in learning about Brownfields, methods for grant writing, and funding sources available for brownfield redevelopment.

WHO:  This workshop is open to Communities and non-profit groups from the Mid-Atlantic area interested in learning about Brownfields and federal funding programs to support Brownfields revitalization community efforts.

The cost of the seminar is free but attendees must register in advance.

Brownfields Green Infrastructure Boot Camp

Date & Time: August 2, 2018, 9:00 am – 3:30 pm

Location: 5522 Research Park Dr. Catonsville, MD 21228

Basic information from the Brownfields Green Infrastructure Flyer:

WHAT: This boot camp will be a hands-on session which will provide attendees with an understanding of the challenges, applications, techniques, and benefits of using Green Infrastructure (GI) on any project site, including the challenges of implementing GI on brownfield sites.

WHO: This boot camp seeks to engage community stakeholders, municipal officials, redevelopment authority staff, and planners.

There is no cost for the boot camp but attendees must register in advance.

If you have questions about TAB or either of the sessions, please contact Gary White at gwhite@njit.edu.

MDLCV Releases Vision 2025 Environmental Issue Guide

The Maryland League of Conservation Voters (MDLCV) Education Fund released its Vision 2025: 2018 Issue Guide on June 6, 2018. The guide details issues that will be important to the environmental community during the 2019 Session and beyond. From the guide’s introduction:

Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund is dedicated to building the effectiveness of the environmental community by maximizing participation of conservation-minded individuals in public policy decisions. We are proud to present this guide to help Marylanders understand the issues facing our state over the next four years. …

Whoever is governor will oversee an administration that will determine our role as citizens of a global community, as well as the future of our citizens’ health, safety, and quality of life. The goals we reach in 2025 will be set in motion by the decisions our public servants make in the upcoming legislative session.

The guide provides a broad outline of issues that MDLCV and other participating environmental groups view as priorities in order to meet their Vision 2025 goals. These issues and goals include:

  • Setting the stage for 100% clean energy
    • Making Maryland a leader in clean, renewable energy
    • Ensuring the completion of the first large-scale Off-shore Wind farm on the East Coast
    • Building a clean energy workforce
    • Moving towards a clean transportation system, including improved public transit and electric vehicle infrastructure
  • Fishable, swimmable, drinkable state waters, and a healthier Bay Watershed
    • Improved bay ecosystem, including oyster sanctuaries and marine life
    • Smarter development policies that protect forests and open space
    • Reduced run-off from septics and agriculture
    • Conowingo Dam solution involving a federal and multi-state partnership
    • Accelerated progress in meeting targets to protect the health of the Chesapeake Bay
  • Improved health outcomes in all communities through reduced environmental degradation
    • Improved health in communities of color
    • Cleaner communities with reduced trash
    • Higher quality of life through sustainable development
  • Aggressive enforcement of environmental regulations through professionally led, well-staffed, appropriately funded state agencies.
    • Restored funding to enforcement agencies
    • Improved metrics on enforcement outcomes
    • Reduced recidivism of pollution violators
    • Renewed emphasis on protection of sensitive species, including oysters
  • An educated, energized, engaged electorate, reflecting the diversity of Maryland’s population
    • Public financing of elections
    • Improved voter access
    • Strengthened voter education

The guide also includes critical dates for the 2018 election and voter registration information. It does not include specific political endorsements.

Know More About Your MS4 at #MACoCon

Make sure you are up-to-date with the latest information about Phase I and Phase II Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permits at the 2018 MACo Summer Conference.

Surviving the Stormwater Surge: MS4 Permit Update

Description

As Maryland moves forward with new Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permits for both Phase I and Phase II jurisdictions, county governments continue to struggle with meeting the worthy environmental goals the permits embody while acknowledging fiscal and practical realities. Panelists will provide a comprehensive update of the status of the MS4 process and key issues, including permit expectations, nutrient credit trading, and consent decrees.

Speakers

  • Jennifer Smith, Sediment, Stormwater and Dam Safety Program Manager, Maryland Department of the Environment
  • Erik Michelsen, Watershed Protection and Restoration Program Administrator, Anne Arundel County
  • Patty Bubar, Deputy Director of Environmental Protection, Montgomery County
  • Meredith Strider, Stormwater Program Manager, City of Gaithersburg

Date & Time: Friday, August 17, 2018; 2:15 pm – 3:15 pm

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Cecil & Queen Anne’s Counties Jointly Appeal Phase II MS4 Permit

MyEasternShoreMd.com article (2018-06-07) reported that Queen Anne’s County and Cecil County have jointly appealed their recently issued National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase II Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit. Phase II MS4 permits can apply to smaller jurisdictions with some urbanized population and are mandated under the federal Clean Water Act. The permit sets stormwater mitigation and retrofit goals that a local government must meet by the end of the permit’s term.

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has delegated authority from the United States Environmental Protection Agency to draft, issue, and enforce MS4 permits in Maryland. MDE issued the most recent Phase II MS4 permit on April 27, 2018. The permit will take effect October 31 of 2018 and has a 5-year term. This permit will apply to Calvert, Cecil, Queen Anne’s, St. Mary’s, Washington, and Wicomico Counties, and numerous municipalities. Ten of Maryland’s counties are subject to a broader Phase I permit that is specifically tailored for each jurisdiction.

The article noted that while Cecil County is already a Phase II permit jurisdiction, this will be the first time Queen Anne’s County has received the designation. Both counties are appealing based on budgetary concerns regarding compliance with a 20% impervious surface area retrofit goal, which is estimated to cost Queen Anne’s County approximately $10 million through 2025. From the article:

Cecil County’s existing permit requirements have been manageable, but the added restoration requirement would add millions more to Cecil’s annual budget as well.

It is unfortunate that counties must file an appeal seeking to resolve matters contained in the permit, [Queen Anne’s County] commissioners said. The county is working to improve the environment in many ways and has devoted considerable resources toward improving the natural environment for the benefit of the Chesapeake Bay, its residents, businesses and guests….The county strongly believes, however, that the extraordinary restoration and retrofit requirements prescribed by the permit are not financially or operationally practicable to fulfill, commissioners said.

Useful Links

MDE Phase II Permit Web Page

New Phase II Permit (issued by MDE on April 27, 2018)

Prior Conduit Street MS4 Permit Coverage

Learn more about both Phase I and Phase II MS4 permit issues at the 2018 MACo Summer Conference from August 15 to 18 at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, MD.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

 

 

Harford Receives Nearly $1M for Waterway Improvement Projects

Harford County was recently awarded $957,250 in state funding to improve waterways in Abingdon and Joppatown. The funding is available for FY19, which begins on July 1, 2018.

According to a press release:

Harford County will manage the following projects and provide matching funds where noted below:

  • Otter Point Creek – Bush River, Abingdon: $750,000 for maintenance dredging
  • Otter Point Creek Boat Launch, Abingdon: $99,000 for repairs to the existing finger piers, boat ramp and adjacent parking lot at Otter Point Creek
  • West Taylors Creek, Joppa: $63,250 plus $63,250 in matching county funding for maintenance dredging of the Taylors Creek channel west of the Mariner Point Park boat ramp
  • Rumsey Island and Taylors Creek Outfall, Joppatowne: $45,000 plus $45,000 in matching county funding for maintenance dredging of the Rumsey Island/Taylors Creek channel to restore access.

“I would like to thank Gov. Hogan and the Maryland General Assembly for their support of these worthy projects,” Harford County Executive Barry Glassman said. “This funding will help us keep boaters safe, promote jobs, and enhance our beautiful waterways for everyone to enjoy.”

Read the full press release for more information.