Critical Actions to Save the Bay
We are less than one month away from Election Day in Maryland, and I can't go many places without being asked, "Alison, who are you going to vote for?" or "Who is the Chesapeake Bay Foundation supporting?"
I explain that CBF's particular non-profit status legally does not allow us to support or endorse candidates. But we work hard to educate the voting public and all candidates on the issues plaguing the Bay and on the four-year-old regional plan to finish cleaning it up. We call that plan the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.
To educate candidates and voters this election season we issued in September Critical Actions Maryland's Next Governor and other Elected Officials Can Take to Help Save the Bay. In this document we lay out the actions our elected leaders need to take to stop pollution and to restore fisheries. These actions are organized into three categories, with three actions in each category. See below:
- Reduce pollution from manure leaching into Eastern Shore creeks.
- Reduce urban and suburban pollution by strengthening permits, funding, and enforcement.
- Protect forests that filter pollution, and increase tree planting on farms and in our communities.
- Increase crabs by introducing an annual, flexible quota system for crabbers.
- Help revive the menhaden population through a revised management plan.
- Restore oysters by creating three self-sustaining reefs, and through increased oyster farming.
- Improve enforcement of environmental laws.
- Stop raids on funding for environmental programs.
- Increase funding and staffing at the state’s environmental agencies.
These actions can produce real benefits for our families and communities. I live in Annapolis, and my kids love to swim in the Bay when it is hot. But after a rain storm, the health department advises against swimming in creeks, rivers, and the Bay for 48 hours. That's because of the polluted runoff from the storm. Polluted runoff is the primary source of pollutants to our urban waterways, and it is increasing. So as a voter I am watching closely what candidates say about this issue, their views on dedicated funding, enforcing silt management laws at construction sites, and improving Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System permits.
If you live in the country, you might want to ask candidates their views on agricultural pollution. As the largest source of pollution to the watershed, agricultural pollution is particularly harmful to rural streams and rivers. For instance, on the Eastern Shore, scientists have discovered half the crop fields that use poultry manure as fertilizer have too much phosphorus from excessive manure applications over the years. They say more than 200,000 tons of excess manure is applied to the fields each year. The state has proposed a solution called the phosphorus management tool to reduce phosphorus runoff. Where does your local candidate stand on this proposed regulation? You might also want to know what candidates are doing to encourage sustainable agricultural practices like livestock grazing or multi-species cover crops.
Please read our critical actions. Ask questions of the candidates of your choice about what their vision is for Maryland, your county or city, and how they plan to make sure we have clean water now and for future generations. Then take the time to go the polls on November 5 or participate in early voting. Make your voice heard. This is too important.
Maryland Executive Director
Chesapeake Bay Foundation