Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Annapolis Tries to Buy It's Way Out of Pollution Problems

And the Annapolis Gazette doesn't approve: Stormwater cleanup shortcut shouldn't be OK'd
County officials say they are unable to fix such pollution from 5,862 acres of impervious surface — streets, parking lots, driveways and other hard surfaces that don't absorb rainwater — within Anne Arundel's boundaries by 2019. That's the deadline to meet the cleanup goal set in the county's stormwater permit, and for a new one from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The county has the money and a list of projects, but will fall as much as 2,000 acres short of getting those projects designed, approved and completed.

So instead, county officials want the state and the EPA to be flexible and accept improvements in wastewater treatment — in the works for the last decade and paid for with another fee — toward as much as 40 percent of the goal. This idea is known as nutrient trading.

The Maryland Department of the Environment is working on guidelines for a nutrient trading program, essentially signing off on the concept. Ben Grumbles, the MDE secretary, calls this approach "flexible and cost-effective."

We don't agree.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation was right to call the idea a "fundamentally flawed" approach that doesn't "move the ball on stormwater pollution."
I support the idea of nutrient trading, at least if geographic coverage is sufficient that no area bears unwanted pollutions as a result. Except, maybe cities, and they deserve it. However, I can't see the point of trading relatively cheap nutrient clean up, for relatively expensive stormwater cleanup. If the idea is to reduce problems in the Bay, both need to be addressed.

Urban areas are leading the drive to demand Bay clean up. Make them pay their fair share.

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