WYE MILLS — State experts gathered Friday, May 3, at Chesapeake College to provide an overview of the Watershed Implementation Plan and held a question-and-answer session for the public.
The Draft Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan establishes current Chesapeake Bay pollution reduction goals and the ultimate 2025 restoration deadline.
“We look at this as really as a continuation of the work that our founding president, the late Gov. Harry Hughes, started,” said Maryland Department of the Environment Assistant Secretary Suzanne Dorsey said. “It is a model for the rest of the world, and there is a lot of work to do.”
MDE Water and Science Administration Assistant Director Matt Rowe gave a presentation that stated the biggest drivers of the pollution reduction. They include the agricultural pollution reduction practices that are funded through the Maryland Agricultural Cost Share Program, Bay Restoration Fund and the Chesapeake & Atlantic Coastal Bays 2010 Trust Fund.
Other drivers were atmospheric pollution reductions resulting from the Clean Air Act and federal stormwater and sewer regulations.
According to the presentation, the WIP III Agricultural Strategies include key activities out to 2025. These include additional best management practices, such as agriculture drainage management.
Other key activities include nutrient management compliance and tracking, reporting and maintaining an accurate accounting of all conservation practices on ground. Other WIP III agricultural strategies focus on soil health and financial assistance.
Phase I is a continued pace of restoration to the maximum extent practicable during upcoming permit.
Phase II provides more detailed pollution reduction strategies to achieve Maryland’s Bay restoration goals, including plans developed by the state’s local partners in 23 counties and Baltimore City.
For Phase III, stormwater strategies are a focus on local priorities that includes co-benefits such as flooding, climate change and healthy streams.
“I think putting monetary value (on Phrase III WIP) is something is that we will need to work towards,” said MDE Integrated Water Planning Program Deputy Manager Greg Busch. “The benefit of water quality clearing bacteria is value out there. With stormwater, you think about things like restoring a more natural chronologic regime in local streams or making sure that phosphorus isn’t going towards our lakes.”
The public then sounded off with concerns, including costs, nutrient management and the state of farmers.
Public comment will be open until June 7.