(EASTON, MD)—The Eastern Shore Office of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and the Choose Clean Water Coalition (CCWC) today released a two-page report that summarizes progress of counties on the Eastern Shore in cleaning the water in their local creeks and rivers over the past two years. The findings were not encouraging.
"It's alarming to find, in this region where water is so closely tied to the health and welfare of the people who live and work here, that counties are not reporting clear and specific goals and commitments to reduce pollution," said Alan Girard, Director of the CBF Eastern Shore Office. "Citizens, business and government are too invested in the clean-up effort known as the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint to be tolerant of counties that do not demonstrate they are pulling their weight."
"Citizens need to see what is or is not being done to restore local waterways with the expectation that there is a high degree of accountability for making them clean and healthy for the benefit of current and future generations," said Brent Bolin, CCWC Director at the Maryland League of Conservation Voters. "Every citizen of Maryland deserves clean water, no matter where they live."
The CBF and CCWC assessment of information supplied by the Maryland Department of the Environment found one county, Dorchester, submitted no milestone progress report. Many other counties reported limited or vague information about their progress. Three counties, Caroline, Dorchester and Worcester, reportedly filed no plans for clean-up activities over the next two years.
The assessment comes on the heels of discouraging news about declining crab populations. Also, Eastern Shore creeks and rivers continue to receive grades of C minus and D on "report cards" for health by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. The pollution that has degraded those waters comes from farms, waste water treatment plants, streets and parking lots, and septic systems on the Eastern Shore. In other areas of Maryland clean-up efforts have produced cleaner and healthier creeks and rivers.
In somewhat refreshing contrast, several counties seem to be leading the way on the Eastern Shore. Wicomico County secured $700,000 in county and outside grants to begin design and installation of clean-up measures. Talbot County is working with CBF and other non-profits in an innovative pilot program to use roadside ditches as pollution filters. Queen Anne's County is using similar partnerships to explore the possibility of using a market trading program to reduce clean-up costs.
Maryland and all six states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, along with the District of Columbia, have agreed to reduce pollution sufficiently to restore the Bay's health. The states are accountable for their progress, and must issue "Milestone" reports every two years on progress made. But Maryland is at a severe disadvantage if local governments do not help. Therefore, Maryland has "strongly encouraged" all county governments in the state to submit their own Milestone reports every two years on their progress toward clean water.
CBF and CCWC evaluated the latest Maryland Milestone data to assess the state's progress. The organizations reviewed the Eastern Shore counties' local Milestone reports to assess their progress. The two-page Eastern Shore assessment is available at cbf.org/md-milestones.