Save the Bay News: Industrial Sludge, Living Shorelines, and What’s Ahead in 2024

Tree canopy - Samuel Shoge - 1171x593

Samuel Shoge

Advocacy efforts are in full swing this month as legislators return to state houses and the Capitol. Take a look at our top priorities for the Bay in the coming months.

Advocacy efforts are in full swing this month as legislators return to state houses and the Capitol. Among the top priorities in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia are efforts to reduce pollution from industries and agriculture—including a ban on toxic pavement sealants that threaten human and environmental health in Virginia; initiatives to strengthen state oversight of industrial sludge in Maryland, which has become a regional dumping ground for the material; and increase and sustain funding for Pennsylvania’s Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program, which is already helping farmers address the leading source of water pollution in the Commonwealth. An overview of our legislative priorities also details work to prevent the loss of tree canopy, protect wetlands, fund scientific research and oyster and mussel restoration, replace hardened shorelines with living shorelines, and more. Also, noteworthy this month: the federal government’s denial of a disaster declaration for blue catfish; CBF’s comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on ensuring environmental justice in rulemaking; a large-scale oyster restoration project in Maryland’s Severn River; and upcoming opportunities to get involved with the Maryland Environmental Legislative Summit, tree plantings, and our summer Middle School Bay Eco-Camp.  

What We’re Fighting for in 2024

Legislative sessions have kicked off around the watershed. To encourage major acceleration in Bay restoration, CBF is advocating on an array of critical issues, including toxic sealants and industrial sludge; funding for scientific research and oyster and mussel restoration; stemming the loss of tree canopy; expanding the use of native plants along roadways; and more.  

A truck moves through a parking lot applying pavement sealant.

Toxic pavement sealant is applied in Pennsylvania in 2023.

BJ Small/CBF Staff

Banning Toxic Pavement Sealants

Some pavement  sealants, used to protect asphalt, are toxic—posing a threat to the health of humans and  fish when washed into streams. In our series of expert webinars, learn about our priorities for legislative session, including why Virginia should ban toxic sealants, why wetlands could be at risk and how to help, and other priorities.

Maryland's Sludge Influx Over 50% of the region's industrial sludge is applied to Maryland farms.*  1. Industrial sludge is the material that remains after meat and protein products are processed in rendering plants. 2. Rendering plants in Virginia and Delaware ship industrial sludge to Maryland because of the state's lax regulations and oversight. 3. In Maryland, the sludge is then either land applied or held in expansive storage tanks, often without clear knowledge of what's in it. 4. The result is foul smelling odor, swarming insects, and polluted runoff that threatens communities and the Bay.  Farmers in Maryland reported the importation of nearly 30 million gallons of DAF in 2019 and ≥37 million gallons in 2020,  which respectively accounted for 50% and ≥62% of the ~60 million gallons generated regionally.  Source: Final.Report.AWTF_.Assessment.pdf (umd.edu) (page 22) real url: https://extension.umd.edu/extension.umd.edu/sites/extension.umd.edu/files/2023-10/Summary.AWTF_.Assessment.pdf

Stopping the Sludge Influx

Maryland has become a regional dumping ground for the industrial waste created by facilities that process and render poultry, seafood, and livestock. People living nearby are suffering from the horrible stench. While concerns are growing over the safety and environmental impacts of this foul sludge, no comprehensive public databases track it. Legislation to strengthen state oversight could help stop the influx and protect communities and the Bay.

Tall green grasses that make up a living shoreline along the water. There is a white sailboat on the water and trees in the background.

A living shoreline along the Chester River at Wilmer Park in Chestertown, Maryland.

Carlin Stiehl/Chesapeake Bay Program

Living Shorelines: 5 Things to Know

Despite a landmark 2008 law that requires Maryland to prioritize the use of living shorelines, shoreline hardening continues to expand, threatening our water quality. This year, we’re advocating for legislation that would build on the law to help replace more hardened shorelines with living shorelines. Here are five things to know about living shorelines and their benefits for water quality, habitat, and coastal resilience. 

Greg Strayer stands in front of a construction area.

A new 185,000-gallon manure storage area on Greg Strayer’s beef farm in Cumberland County is reducing polluted runoff into local streams. The storage was made possible with cost-share funds through Pennsylvania’s Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program (ACAP).

BJ Small/CBF Staff

Farming for Family

Two years ago, Pennsylvania established the Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program (ACAP)—the state’s first cost-share program to help farmers pay for critical conservation practices. Now, the funds are making a difference on farms—including Greg Strayer’s Cumberland County beef farm, where a new 185,000-gallon storage area prevents liquid manure from reaching the Conodoguinet Creek and will help the family farm continue for future generations.

In the News

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