There's A Battle Raging Over the Chesapeake Bay - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

There's A Battle Raging Over the Chesapeake Bay

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Photo Courtesy NASA Photo Courtesy NASA

ANNAPOLIS, Md.-The mighty Chesapeake Bay looks beautiful from the surface, but beneath the waves it's a very different story according to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Alison Prost, the Executive Director of the Maryland Branch of the organization says decades of abuse have hurt the bay, and now her group and a number of other agencies are trying to fix the bay's pollution problem.

"In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency, along with the watershed states, got together and came up with new pollution limits and a plan to meet those limits." said Prost

But those limits have gotten backlash from a group known as the Clean Chesapeake Coalition.  The movement started in Dorchester County to push back against the tight mandates.  They say cleaning the bay is important, but the plans are coming at too high a cost.  85 million dollars in Dorchester County.

"What are you going to cut on the side to cut those services to have that kind of money?  It would be impossible.  Impossible for counties especially on the eastern shore and in western Maryland." said Ricky Travers, a Dorchester County Councilman.  Dorchester and Wicomico county are both in the coalition.

Prost says that initial cost, while scary at first, can come down.

"When you get to the next layer, look at the cost effectiveness, pick and choose, prioritize, everywhere we are seeing the numbers come down." Prost said.

The coalition though says the main cause of the bay's pollution isn't coming from Maryland, but is actually flowing down the Susquehanna River from Pennsylvania and New York through the Conowingo Dam.

The dam is near the mouth of the Susquehanna, and while most of its gates are closed, that wasn't the case in 2011.  During a storm, the gates were open, and the coalition points to pictures from space that show sediment flowing into the bay from the dam.  They say that could soon become a daily reality in 10 to 15 years when the dam reaches it's filtering limit.  Robert Summers, Secretary for the Maryland Department of the Environment says while the river and the dam are problems, those aren't the only contributors to the bay's pollution problems.

"The Susquehanna River contributes roughly 43 percent of the total pollutant load to Chesapeake Bay.  Which means over half of that is coming from other places, and Maryland is one of those other places." said Summers.

Both groups say they want to work with the other, but neither is willing to compromise their goals.

 

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