On Wednesday, approximately one hundred Marylanders gathered at Lawyers Mall in Annapolis to support legislation that would make the state’s waterways safe for swimming and fishing and protect seafood and recreational industries. The legislation would also create jobs, protect public health, and reduce flooding. Supporters donned beach gear and brought recreational equipment, as well as personal photos, to show what clean water means to them.
With less than two weeks left in the 2012 Maryland General Assembly session, advocates remain optimistic that strong bills will emerge in time for final passage by Sine Die. Bills to the increase Bay Restoration Fund to cover wastewater treatment plant upgrades (SB 240 / HB 446) and to require the state’s largest jurisdictions to create a dedicated fee to reduce polluted stormwater runoff (SB 614 / HB 987) have both passed in the House of Delegates. Legislation to reduce pollution from poorly planned development and septic systems (SB 236 / HB 445) has passed in the Senate.
Will Baker, President of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said: “This is the moment in time for the Bay. If we miss this opportunity to finish the job of saving the Bay we may never have another. Let’s pass these bills now and get on with funding the programs that create jobs and clean our waters. Our children and grandchildren should be able to swim in Maryland waters without worry for their health. We can make that happen. If not now, when? The choice is ours.”
Reverend Robert Turner from St. John’s Baptist Church in Columbia, emphasized the importance of helping the Bay. Reverend Turner said, “As a pastor, the stewardship of our environment is very important to me as it is to members of faith communities throughout Maryland.”
Maryland is now more than halfway to the goals set 20 years ago for a restored Chesapeake Bay. To make sure that Maryland finishes the job and meets our “pollution diet,” the Clean Water, Healthy Families Coalition is working to achieve these goals during the 2012 Maryland General Assembly:
1 Finish upgrading the wastewater treatment plants that Maryland has already committed to upgrade (Senate Bill 240 / House Bill 446)
2 Ensure that local governments have resources to reduce polluted stormwater runoff and implement their local clean water plans (Senate Bill 614 / House Bill 987)
3 Reduce pollution from poorly planned development – including limiting new septic systems (Senate Bill 236 / House Bill 445)
4 Require that all wastewater discharges, including septic systems, are treated at the highest levels to protect public health and ensure clean water (Through amendments or by regulation)