The following first appeared in the Bay Journal.
The Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint is working. By all metrics we are seeing progress. Citizens, businesses, and governments are working together to reduce pollution. You can actually see the progress in the clear water.
The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science's Bay Report Card issued last spring, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's 2016 State of the Bay report, and the Bay Program's Bay Barometer all document improvements. Bay grasses and crabs are up, and the dead zone is trending smaller. While celebrating progress, no one thinks the Bay is saved. Far from it. And, no doubt the recovery we do enjoy is fragile.
In these uncertain times, it is more important than ever that citizens of all walks of life let their elected officials know that the need for clean water is a shared value and important priority. Cleaning up local rivers and streams will reduce risks to human health, create jobs, and benefit local economies.
We must insist that our state legislators make the needed investments to reduce pollution; that our governors speak up for the Blueprint; and that our federal representatives ensure the Environmental Protection Agency's full participation in guiding and implementing the Blueprint.
Elected officials do listen to their constituents.
In early February, more than 50 citizens attended a lobby day at the General Assembly in Richmond supporting the CBF, James River Association, Lynnhaven River NOW, and other clean water allies.
Liz Worsham and her husband, Brad, traveled 70 miles from the Northern Neck to Richmond to meet with their state legislators. "We are concerned about clean water because we like to swim in our creek, for starters, and kayak and fish. My husband hunts. It's really important for the businesses in the area and for the watermen," Liz Worsham said. "This is a great opportunity to have an impact and express my views to my representatives."
The most effective way to be heard is to visit a politician in his or her office or to speak up at a town hall meeting. Politicians will take note.
Other effective ways are to write your representatives or call their district offices.
In these uncertain times, two facts are certain. One: The desire for clean water unites us, regardless of age or political persuasion. Two: Elected officials need voter support. We can make a difference.
I urge all Bay Journal readers to go on the record—our job of restoring the Chesapeake and its rivers and streams is far from done. We must push forward.
Click here to learn about what you can do right now to support clean water across our region.
Elizabeth Buckman, CBF Vice President of Communications