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Watermen, Environmentalists Weigh-In on Maryland Plan to Save the Bay

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

CAMBRIDGE, Md. - In a race against time, the Chesapeake Bay watershed states are now in one of the final phases to restoring the Bay. For nearly a decade, states like Maryland have been at the forefront in reaching the U.S.-mandated 2025 Bay cleanup goals.

Still, some worry plans, including Maryland's, will fall short.

That's why Maryland's latest reveal - the third phase of its Water Implementation Plan (WIP) - hopes to restore and maintain a clean Bay. The plan breaks down into a handful of targeted sectors, aiming to reduce pollution such as agriculture, stormwater, and wastewater runoff.

But environmentalists like Alan Girard of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation say the plan's standards aren't enough. Girard says more must be done to set long term practices in places like farms.

"This plan really lowers expectations for making progress on polluted runoff," Girard said. "It's important that when we invest in clean practices for clean water that we ensure that those practices are permanent and are going to make sure that the progress is sustained over time."

Watermen also have their own opinions.

Clammers Norman Schuyler and wife Felicia are fast at work one early Thursday morning, digging for razor clams.

The Schuylers' are just two of millions whose livelihoods rely on the Chesapeake Bay.

But the Schuylers' worry the restoration plan may mean more regulations - a change that could squeeze out watermen and farmers who are already dwindling by the numbers.

"The watermen want the Bay to be healthy more than anybody," Schuyler said. "There's just so many things against the watermen. People are just misinformed about the watermen."

Although split on the plan, both watermen and environmentalists can agree on one thing: Maryland's water implementation plan could fall short of its goals to a clean Bay.

Maryland's draft of its Phase III WIP will be finalized this Fall. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will give final approval before the plan enrolls.

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