Chesapeake Bay Foundation Releases 2014 Report Card, Says Phosph - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Releases 2014 Report Card, Says Phosphorous Management Tool Needed

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 ANNAPOLIS, Md.- The Chesapeake Bay Foundation's bi-annual report card on the health of the bay was released Monday, giving the state a dismal "D+" rating.

While there have been some improvements, the grade is still a D+.  The Bay Foundation says the report proves that the Phosphorus Management Tool, or PMT, is necessary.

The PMT would stop many Delmarva farmers from using chicken manure, in order to cut down on phosphorus runoff.

Although bay health improved overall, the Foundation says phosphorous levels rose in the past two years.

The Bay Foundation calls it a "manure crisis" on the Eastern Shore.

"Agriculture, as a sector, must do more.  Agriculture is the largest sector of pollution coming into the bay, and fortunately, it's the least expensive to control," said Chesapeake Bay Foundation president William Baker.

Tom Bradshaw serves one of the more agricultural parts of Dorchester County on the county council.  The county is part of the Clean Chesapeake Coalition, a group that says they have science that conflicts with the Bay Foundation's.  Bradshaw says farmers have done plenty.

"The farmers are the low hanging fruit.  The investments need to be made in storm water repairs and renewing that infrastructure, as well as wastewater treatment plant upgrades.  Until you take care of those two problems, anything the farmer does will work to put him out of business because he will no longer be able to stay in business," said Bradshaw.

The Bay Foundation says elected officials, especially Eastern Shore lawmakers should approve the PMT to fix the major problems facing the bay.

"It's the one part of the state where our elected officials have continued to resist sound science by delaying new regulations to control chicken manure," said Baker.

"I was elected to be a steward of the taxpayer's money, and I want to see the best common sense approaches that's going to balance having clean water and having our farmers and watermen still be able to work," said Bradshaw.

The Bay Foundation says if nothing is done, agriculture will miss it's 2017 pollution reduction goals.

Bradshaw and farmers WBOC has spoken to in the past have said the opposite.  They say they were actually 130 percent ahead of their goals mandated by the EPA.

The PMT is still working its way through legislative committee, and could be implemented as soon as mid-January.  But, governor-elect Larry Hogan says one of his first orders of business is to eliminate the PMT in Maryland.
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