Thursday, February 23, 2012

EPA Happy with MD Bay Diet Plans, Counties, Not So Much

As the Chesapeake Bay “pollution diet” moves forward, the federal government is giving good marks to Maryland’s latest plan for cleaning up the estuary. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency praised Maryland for “exceptional” outreach efforts to those who will be affected by new cleanup programs.

In a letter to the state, Jim Edward, deputy director of EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, said his agency will “maintain ongoing oversight” to ensure that Maryland follows through on its bay-saving promises.

The latest plan updates broad statewide actions to reduce pollution. The revised plans include details from county governments and will be finished this summer.
 Officials skeptical over costly WIP
The Calvert County Planning Commission’s criticism of a federally mandated Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan echoes concerns also expressed previously by the county commissioners — mainly, that the $1.28 billion cost to Calvert is too extreme for a plan about which they have doubts.

It is expected to cost the county more than five times its annual budget, however, making Calvert’s WIP the second highest cost per budget in Maryland, second only to Frederick County, which has to cough up nine times its budget to implement the plan, Brownlee said.

According to the model used by the EPA and Maryland Department of the Environment to calculate expected load reductions, Calvert must reduce nitrogen pollution by 120,000 pounds. “That’s our largest requirement. That is significant,” Brownlee said.

To achieve this, the county will have to spend $152 million on replacing 12,673 septic systems with nitrogen-removing systems. Right now, the county only replaces about 60 per year using “flush tax” money from the Bay Restoration Fund, he said. Legislation is currently underway to double that fund, which Brownlee said will help, though even with extra funding the county will not meet its 2017 goal. It would meet the 2025 goal, however, he said.
 As a wise plumber once told me "Shit don't run up hill."

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