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MD Conference to Focus on Cleaning Up Chesapeake Bay

The Chesapeake Bay watershed needs to reduce its phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment pollution by 2025. (Adobe Stock)
The Chesapeake Bay watershed needs to reduce its phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment pollution by 2025. (Adobe Stock)
November 8, 2019

BALTIMORE – Stream recovery projects are a cornerstone in helping to reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and people at the MidAtlantic Stream Restoration Conference on November 18 will explore how to advance these projects.

Stream rehabilitation is more urgent than ever, according to Rich Starr – senior water research scientist with Ecosystem Planning and Restoration – who'll give opening remarks at the conference.

He says states in the watershed, including Maryland and Virginia, are pushing to fulfill the Environmental Protection Agency’s mandate to reduce nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment pollution flowing into the Chesapeake 60% by 2025.

"I think it's difficult to say whether we'll achieve it or not,” says Starr. “But the more positive thing to look at is, the trend is going that way. We are definitely trending towards a healthier bay as a result of the work that's going on. "

The Baltimore conference comes just a few weeks after Governor Larry Hogan called on Congress to fully fund $85 million of Chesapeake Bay restoration programs in the federal 2020 budget.

Maryland had achieved its overall 2017 goal for the EPA's Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint to reduce phosphorus and sediment, but fell short on nitrogen reductions, according to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Starr says nitrogen and phosphorous pollution come from wastewater runoff in urban and suburban areas as well as agriculture. Stream restoration, he adds, helps prevent the runoff from getting to the Bay.

"Stream restoration involves stabilizing the stream, so the banks are no longer excessively eroding and contributing excessive dirt into the stream, and replanting the beds and improving habitat in the stream for aquatic organisms,” says Starr.

He says the conference, hosted by the nonprofit Resource Institute, will have sessions on floodplain restoration, how healthy ecosystems can help with riverbank restorations, and a state-by-state look at controlling sediment, phosphorous and nitrogen in the Chesapeake Bay states.

Diane Bernard, Public News Service - MD