In my last post I talked about the need for urgent action in improving wastewater treatment in Maryland and gave one idea about how to deal with it. In this post, I'll talk about stormwater management, transportation and agriculture.
Last year, the legislature passed the Stormwater Management Act of 2007. This legislation goes a long way toward reducing the adverse impact of stormwater runoff from new developments. Large amounts of pollutants continue to be washed into the Bay from existing development, though and steps need to be taken immediately to begin mitigating this pollution.
This will not be inexpensive. Anne Arundel County estimated $5 billion to address needs in that county alone. Unfortunately, what is needed is money. I suggest a small annual fee for each property owner, similar to the 'flush tax' and based on the size of the impervious surface on the property. This will not only provide funds for mitigation of the pollution on the basis of 'those who pollute pay', but will also provide incentive to reduce the amount of impervious surface and allow more storwater to infiltrate into the ground.
The solution for agriculture is fairly simple and a bit less costly. As I've written before, farmers must be required to prepare and follow comprehensive nutrient management plans. Many farms, particularly here on the Shore, are large operations. I can think of no reason they should be exempt from identifying and managing their own pollution than any factory.
I've also talked about the need for vegetative buffers along streambeds and waterways. Funds for signficant expansion of vegetated buffers should be made available by the state.
A significant portion of the excess nutrients in the Bay are deposited as a result of air pollution. Much of this is a result of tailpipe emissions from the hundreds of thousands of cars waiting in traffic all over Maryland, but particularly in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. The state needs to invest significant amounts of money improving transportation in this corridor and, particularly, expanding mass transit options to allow people to get out of their cars. With the coming expansion of employment both at Aberdeen Proving Grounds and at Fort Meade, mass transit needs to be provided to both sites.
Fortunately, there is already significant pressure to improve transit in this corridor. The Governor and the legislature need to act decisively in this area, though.
I'll be looking at the options for the legislature and the Governor in the next post.
[The photo of the skipjack under sail is from NOAA]