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Md. Lt. Gov. talks Chesapeake Bay cleanup plans

Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford. (The Daily Record / Bryan P. Sears)

Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford. (The Daily Record / Bryan P. Sears)

WASHINGTON — Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford attended the Chesapeake Bay Program Executive Council meeting Thursday where members announced strategies for meeting the goals of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe hosted the meeting, which was attended by Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, Chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Commission L. Scott Lingamfelter and representatives from Delaware, New York, and Pennsylvania.

“Gov. (Larry) Hogan is leading the most significant bay restoration effort in decades and we look forward to working with our partners and all stakeholders to continue the progress in our own state, upstream, and throughout the watershed,” Rutherford said. “While we all have one common goal — a restored, healthy, and economically vibrant watershed — there is still a lot of work to be done and collaboration will be critical to our success.”

After years of previous administrations failing to successfully negotiate with the environmental and farming communities, Hogan successfully established enhanced Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) regulations earlier this year, bringing these communities together with a fair and balanced plan for limiting phosphorus levels. PMT will limit or prohibit phosphorus application in soils already heavily saturated and should incrementally reduce residual levels of phosphorus in the soil over time.

Hogan, who missed the meeting while he undergoes treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, also signed SB 863 earlier this year, the Rain Tax Mandate Repeal, which was a major step in providing flexibility to local jurisdictions by repealing the requirement that forced local jurisdictions to collect a stormwater remediation fee, while upholding accountability and appropriate oversight.

At the annual meeting, members reviewed progress and finalized strategies that will guide partner actions over the next decade. At last year’s executive council meeting, members committed to 10 broad goals to create a restored Chesapeake Bay. In the year since, all partners have worked through a public process to identify 29 specific management strategies to meet those goals. Demonstrating its dedication to restoring the bay, Maryland has committed to all 29 management strategies.

Rutherford led a discussion on innovative financing methods for bay restoration, while encouraging neighboring states to join with Maryland in cleaning up the bay. Following the discussion, members agreed to convene a symposium on financing, which will include representatives from federal, state, and local governments; private capital firms; nonprofit organizations; and academic institutions and others, within the next year.

“Restoring the bay will require a renewed focus on cost-efficiency and effectiveness,” Rutherford said. “Today, we invited the EPA and watershed states to join us in our pursuit of a financing system that will not only achieve bay restoration goals, but will do so in the most cost-effective and impactful way possible.”

On June 10, 2015, the EPA reviewed each jurisdiction’s progress toward achieving the bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) goals, which were also discussed at the Executive Council meeting. TMDL goals represent the maximum amount of nutrient and sediment pollution that can enter the bay from each state, which states are mandated to achieve by 2025. The review shows that Maryland is the only state with steady progress on all four of the EPA’s categories: agriculture, urban/suburban, wastewater and trading/offsets.