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Posted at 9:00 PM ET, 11/20/2010

A cleaner bay begins with cleaner farms

By Hilary Kirwan, Washington

In the Nov. 11 Metro article “Potomac River report cites farms and forests,” Valerie Connelly, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Farm Bureau, obscured the facts about how to clean up the Potomac River when she said, “We need to figure out what actually gets the job done.”  We already know what gets the job done.  Study after study demonstrates that reducing farm runoff directly improves watershed vitality and reduces the volume of pesticides, nitrogen and hormones that reach waterways and drinking water.

Understandably, Ms. Connelly is concerned about cost burdens on the region’s farmers.  To this end, legislative and regulatory solutions must first and foremost differentiate between small, independent farmers and large corporate operations.  Additionally, cost-sharing programs between government and farmers can reduce the financial burdens on farmers as they improve their watershed management. 

All affected parties should focus their energies on achieving mutually agreeable solutions for restoring the Potomac.  A vital Potomac River is far too important to be mired by a tired industry-vs.-envrionment debate.

By Hilary Kirwan, Washington  | November 20, 2010; 9:00 PM ET
Categories:  Chesapeake Bay, HotTopic, Maryland, Virginia  
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Having grown up in Oregon when a real progressive Republican was governor, Tom Larson McCall, I saw first hand what can be done to clean up a major watershed, the Willamette River, through strict but fair State regulation and cooperative businesses (for the most part). While the Chesapeak Bay is a bigger problem than my experience, the same techniques using strict, clear, and simple State regulations along with governmental agencies consulting directly with businesses who are contributing to the majority of the pollution should work here.

The elected officials must first step up and reject the political pressure (i.e., refusing political contributions) by the business groups who are trying to protect their turf. Next write the needed laws based on sound scientific agricultural/pollution control techniques that will make a difference. Then, the business community must understand if they do not step up to work honestly to make the new laws and regulations work, the State will shut them down through vigorous but fair enforcement.

Posted by: ARickoverNuke | November 21, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

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