From the Desk of Alan Girard Spring 2015

April Showers Bring May Flowers . . .  

Maryland's Eastern Shore Director Alan Girard. Photo by Nikki Davis.
CBF's Eastern Shore of Maryland Director Alan Girard. Photo by Nikki Davis.

They also bring trash, oil, and harmful nutrients and sediments to the Shore's rivers and creeks.

When it rains, our waterways get a dose of pollution that flows mostly unfiltered from our farms, towns, and neighborhoods where it originates. The good news is that things are being done to stop it.

Just in the last year, communities around the Eastern Shore have begun to demonstrate some serious commitment to halting pollution where it starts. Investments in so-called "green infrastructure" like wetlands and vegetated areas are being made to slow and filter runoff, trapping pollution along the way and keeping it out of local waters.

It's an investment in the future. Communities like the small town of Oxford are seeing the costs of treating polluted runoff climb almost out of reach every year that nothing is done to address the problem. That's why residents there overwhelmingly voted to establish a dedicated annual fund to design and install polluted runoff control projects and help clean up the waterways that nearly completely surround the town.

Salisbury just last month finalized a program to update its 105-year-old stromwater drainage network with filtration systems that will help heal a major Bay tributary: the Wicomico River. Dozens of city residents spoke in favor of the local fee being used to support it. And in both Salisbury and Oxford, neither the state nor federal government required such a specific program to be established. Leaders in these communities backed by concerned citizens decided it was just the right thing to do.

These are not isolated events. Queen Anne's County is looking at establishing a locally funded program to upgrade its public infrastructure to better slow and filter pollution. Wicomico County is now in its third year of annual dedicated funding to continue the progress being made on a prioritized list of pollution-control projects. Talbot County is exploring an innovative strategy to retrofit roadside ditches along county roads that will treat both urban and agricultural runoff in a single practice. But the Talbot County Council is not yet fully on board with this innovative, cost-effective, and practical program. Take action now to urge the Talbot County Council to invest in these solutions to clean up our waters and support roadside ditch retrofits!

Just as urban and suburban communities are showing resolve to do their share, farmers are agreeing to step up the effort as well. New regulations supported by farmers will help make sure that farms at risk of excess phosphorus from manure reaching nearby waterways receive better farm management. It's a measure that, while falling short of Maryland's promise to EPA to adopt a similar program four years ago, is expected to play a big role in addressing the Shore's excess manure problem. Farmers on the Shore will now be on track to meet Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint pollution reduction targets for phosphorus.

Together, these efforts are helping position the Shore to finish the job of restoring local waterways and the Bay to health. And in every case, its people who care and speak out, who are making the difference between action and inaction in our communities. Be sure to do your part. Learn about what's happening to make rivers and streams healthy in your community and show your support for clean water today.

—Alan Girard
Eastern Shore of Maryland Director
Chesapeake Bay Foundation

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