Wednesday, March 2, 2016

30 Years and $10 Billion Later . . .

30 years and counting
2018 will be the 30-year anniversary of the Bay clean-up effort, over $10 billion of taxpayer money will have been spent, the Maryland fisheries industry is a fraction of what it once was. Arguably, the Bay is dirtier now than when it began. Moving forward, would it be wise to consider changing strategies, plotting a fresh course or should we continue on the present course for another 30 years?

Farmers are blamed for 60 percent or more of pollution loads into the Bay but the $14.4 billion WIP (Watershed Implementation Plan) budget only allots them (farmers) 6 percent (less than $1 billion) of these resources, while residential septics contribute only 4 percent of pollution but are allocated nearly $4 billion or 26 percent, urban stormwater projects are getting $7.3 billion or 53 percent, where the cost to remove a pound of nitrogen (in the urban sector) is between $250 and $500 per pound. Research has shown a pound of nitrogen removal from farm fields can cost as little $2 per pound. (Google “Chesapeake Bay Fiscal 2014 Budget Overview” page 26).
It's cheap and easy to cut out nitrogen pollution from farms; just don't fertilize. Of course productivity goes way down, and while the Chinese may be making our Iphones, I don't think they're growing much of our food yet.

Unfortunately, farmers just don't have the votes that cities do.

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