BALTIMORE, (MD)—Participating Eastern Shore counties and towns will share the services of a pollution reduction expert just as rural churches used to share a circuit rider clergy, thanks to an innovative grant awarded today by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) applied for the grant to assist local governments on the Eastern Shore who want to reduce polluted runoff in a cost-effective manner. The NFWF award is for $316,000, which is matched by $347,700 in commitments from state and local government partners, bringing total investment to over $660,000 for the program.
"Salisbury is committed to being a leader in improving water quality in our rivers, ponds and Bay," said Mayor Jake Day. "We are willing and able to put local dollars into those improvements; however, where we can leverage limited local resources in partnership with our other Eastern Shore neighbors, the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed can benefit many times over."
The project facilitated by CBF will allow rural jurisdictions to work in close partnership to reduce polluted runoff. This type of contamination comes from hard surfaces—roads, parking lots, roofs—that channel water and contaminants into local creeks, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay. Runoff is one of the most expensive types of Bay pollution to address. The initiative will enable counties and towns to share a staff member who has expertise in planning and prioritizing clean-up projects, tracking and verifying results, as well as other services.
“Local government leaders are committed to reducing pollution, but the resources to do it are often scarce,” said Alan Girard, CBF Eastern Shore Director. “This project allows our communities to get the tools and services they need in a cost-effective way."
Jurisdictions that volunteered to contribute to the program and will now benefit from the NFWF grants are: Talbot and Queen Anne’s counties, the cities of Cambridge and Salisbury, and the towns of Easton and Oxford. The Talbot County Soil Conservation District is also a contributor, as is the Maryland Department of the Environment, which provided significant financial resources in support of this collaborative.
The idea for the shared staff person, or Reginal Service Provider, and other shared technical services came out of the Healthy Waters Round Table, a partnership of Eastern Shore jurisdictions who work collaboratively to maximize limited resources available for pollution control. CBF and partners initiated the collaborative effort in 2015 after seeing that Eastern Shore rural counties and municipalities needed help to meet the state’s Chesapeake Bay clean-up goals. Significant partnership contributions came from the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, the Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology, and University of Maryland Sea Grant Extension in support of the Healthy Waters Round Table. The grant project will take the collaboration to the crucial next step: concrete assistance.
The program will help participating jurisdictions efficiently meet their needs for cleaner local creeks, and rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay. It will assist them to leverage limited resources, plan and prioritize projects, and speed the delivery of stormwater best management practices.
“Queen Anne's County is pleased to participate with our neighboring counties and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to continue on our path of improving water quality through building expertise to solve local pollution problems such as polluted runoff, watershed project implementation, and solving failing on-site septic systems," said Queen Anne’s County Commissioner James Moran. “This grant builds on two years of collaboration that Queen Anne's County has had with our sister jurisdictions and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation."