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Posted at 8:42 PM ET, 06/ 4/2010

A gulf-size crisis in the Chesapeake

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Hilary Jacobs
Baltimore

The June 3 Metro article “Future of Chesapeake Bay back in focus” quoted William C. 8Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, as saying: “We have a gulf oil spill right here on the Chesapeake every day. Almost a million pounds of nitrogen flows into the bay every day.”

As BP’s Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico continues to leak, Americans are continually shocked by the environmental impacts. The Gulf of Mexico spans 600,000 square miles — a massive body of water touching five states, Mexico and countless islands. People are in awe at the scale of this devastating oil spill, but as Mr. Baker pointed out, comparable amounts of pollutants enter the bay daily. While the impacts of these pollutants are less immediate and obvious, they are nevertheless hugely detrimental to the 64,000 square miles of the Chesapeake’s watershed.

As one of the most iconic and scenic waterways in the United States, the Chesapeake Bay begs for our protection. Factory farm pollution is a leading source of nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment, much of it due to animal manure.

In Maryland alone, the poultry industry disposes of more than 300,000 tons of excess manure annually, which results in more than 4,000 tons of pollution. We must hold all polluters accountable for their waste in order to help clean and preserve the bay.

The writer works at Environment Maryland, an advocacy organization.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | June 4, 2010; 8:42 PM ET
Categories:  Chesapeake Bay, HotTopic, environment  
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Comments

In addition to the factory farm pollution, there is the excessive development within the watersheds that flow into the Chesapeake. Instead of following regulations that require stormwater management, Fairfax County (and other entities) simply grant waivers meaing that no or insufficient stormwater management is acceptable. U.S. Route 1 from Gunston Road to the low bridge before entering 1-95 received alot of stormwater from the two developments at Gunston Road. There was so much water that a northbound lane was under water, and a lake was formed across U.S. 1 so that both the southbound and the northbound traffic had to slowly move about it. The trash that came down, along with the muddy sediments, goes directly to the tributaries into the Potomac River.

In my neighborhood, Fairfax County staff "interpreted" the Clean Water Act-based regulation, which allows the county to issue a waiver and which has a requirement that the waiver is the "minimum necessary to afford relief", so that two waivers were issued where one house had existed for decades and the area is zoned for only one house. And, the Fairfax County Director of Public Works simply said they were following all county rules and regulations, even though "minimum" would mean to most the smaller of 1 and 2. But, minimum to Fairfax County staff is 2.

Having local governing entites interpret Clean Water Act regulations is like "assigning the fox to guard the hen house."

Posted by: cmvoorhees | June 6, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

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