Bill Anderson has been a faithful volunteer to more than just the citizens of Talbot County as Head of the Talbot County Public Works Advisory Board (PWAB). Bill, for years, has been deeply invested in our communities, serving as a Board Member of ShoreRivers, protecting and advocating for clean water, and working on many community events such as Plein Air. Bill wants to protect our watersheds and our communities. With his experience, education, and talent, Bill is a desirable and qualified PWAB member. Firing Bill Anderson from the PWAB because he is trying to protect our communities and environment from excess nitrogen pollution at Lakeside is a travesty.
We are vastly underperforming toward the bay clean-up goals. The Nitrogen removal required based on the 2025 Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint is 72 million pounds annually from the Chesapeake Bay. Currently, we are at 30 million pounds of reduction. But that does not account for the 6 million pounds to offset Conowingo Dam, 5 million pounds for climate change, and 5 million pounds to account for regional growth, according to the EPA Bay Program. Pathetically, we stand at a NET reduction of 14 million pounds toward our goal of 72 million pounds annually to achieve a restored bay.
As we sit today, not one river on the Eastern Shore meets the EPA standard for clean water. On many summer days a year, our rivers are not safe to swim in. Reducing nitrogen pollution from Lakeside, or anywhere, should be at the top of our list. That is what Bill wants to do, but the County Council is not so worried about it.
Lakeside has been a travesty from the beginning, misled by misinformation, conflicts of interest, and bad people wanting to do environmentally bad things for the wrong reasons. Hooking up a new massive development to a failing wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) or implementing a new WWTP plant utilizing spray irrigation, a known wild card in pollution reduction efficacy, on the banks of a polluted river is wrong. We continue to overdevelop in the wrong places in the wrong ways: Lakeside now, Four Seasons before. We are hypocrites to point north to Pennsylvania or any direction calling for more pollution reduction as we continue to layer more pollution on top of our existing polluted rivers in our backyard.
I wonder if we will ever clean our rivers or restore the bay. I suspect not; we don’t have the discipline to achieve it. I hear many folks changing the definition of a “restored bay” to dumb it down. Firing Bill Anderson is ultimately a small action, of which there are hundreds or thousands in our watershed every year, and they all add up to failure.
The Talbot County Council just put another nail in the coffin for our rivers. Lakeside is a sad chapter in our long goodbye to our rivers and water quality. I suspect Bill’s firing was foreseeable. Bill is courageous. Bill wants to do the right thing; The Talbot County Council, like so many, does not, and we knew that.
Jeff Horstman is the founder and former executive director of ShoreRivers. He is also the former Miles Wye Riverkeeper.