Representatives of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation make a compelling argument that attempting to clean up the water in the bay is a critical necessity.It's a lot of money, so everybody would rather see some one else pay the lions share. Sound familiar?
Ultimately, though, we were left unsatisfied by their explanation for why Marylanders should pay more, and in return benefit from a clean bay, when states around us aren't pulling enough weight to clean up their own polluted waterways.
Maryland leads the way in stringent, state-created environmental regulations designed to curb the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from development and agriculture. Our question is, are we too far ahead?
Those state regulations have affected the bottom line for farmers, developers and wastewater plants -- none of them are cheap. Chesapeake Bay Foundation representatives who joined us for an editorial board here at The Frederick News-Post sounded a little too laissez faire about that cost. Take wastewater treatment plant upgrades, which will cost the county $936 million over the years leading up to 2025, the deadline for bay cleanup programs to be in place. It's an additional 20 or 30 years after that pollution in the watershed is expected to have returned to a more normal level.
"If you talk about this idea of sharing the load -- you know, is it all going to fall on the farmers? Is it all going to fall on our sewage bills where we're paying for wastewater treatment upgrades? -- ideally, we want to spread it out so everyone is paying for part of the load," said the foundation's communications coordinator, Tom Zolper.
Yes, it should be spread out, and Marylanders alone shouldn't shoulder the bulk of a problem that is created over an area of 64,000 square miles, six states and the District of Columbia.