Annapolis Sunday Capital (Newspaper) - September 29, 2013, Annapolis, Maryland
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A Capital-Gazette Newspaper ® — Annapolis, MD
FIRST IN A SERIES ON THE FIGHT TO CLEAN UP THE CHESAPEAKE BAYBillions spent - and counting - to ‘Save the Bay.’ Is it working?
After three decades of work and more than $15 billion spent in Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay isn't cleaned up.
Measures of water quality — clar ity, oxygen, grass, algae — remain far below goals for a healthy estuary.
Officials pledged to restore the Chesapeake in a historic 1983 agreement.
Water quality saw slight improvement since then. The annual volume of pollution decreased, but remains short of goals.
Stormwater fees are now costing taxpayers millions more to clean the bay, though widespread results might not appear for years.
“The watershed is a group of people trying to lose weight,” said Margaret Enloe of the Chesapeake Bay Program. “Just because they all start eating salads at the same time, doesn’t mean they all (soon) respond.”
Critics, however, say missteps cost tax dollars and slowed the effort.
For this week-long series, “Troubled Waters,” Capital reporters fol
lowed billions in spending to find mixed results:
• So much money spent by so many federal and state agencies that, until recently, nobody could keep track.
• Uncoordinated efforts and ineffectual programs, though better results are produced now.
• Stormwater fees mean average Marylanders will pay more to clean« the bay, but it’s uncertain whether it will be enough.
•A 1980s moratorium saved rock-fish, but millions of tax dollars
haven’t restored oysters or stabilized crabs.
• A new plan, based on tough enforcement, is praised as the best hope; but questions persist about paying for
This ambitious plan will cost billions of dollars, increasing in price as more people arrive — leaving Marylanders to once again ask:
Can the bay be saved?
The Capital’s in-depth report on efforts to save the bay begins below.
STORIES BY TIM PRUDENTE and ALEX JACKSON I PHOTOS BY JOSHUA MCKERROWNavy grounded by Hilltoppers / Cl [ COUPONS: $325
Worth of savings inside
Part I: The long road to modest resultsPOLLUTION IS DOWN ...
By TIM PRUDENTE [email protected]
We begin in Washington.
“Despite significant efforts by fed eral, state, and local governments,” says President Barack Obama’s order in 2009, “water pollution in the Chesapeake Bay prevents the attainment of existing state water quality standards.”
The president calls for renewed commitment to clean the Chesapeake.
Four years later.
“Have you seen any drastic im provement?” asks Annapolis fisherman Jimmy Simmons. “Have you seen anything? Not a damn thing except the bay (health) is less and my taxes are higher.”
There has been progress, but he can’t see it: An estimated 2.6 billion fewer pounds of pollution spewed into the Chesapeake last year, nearly a one-quarter reduction from the 1985 load. To him, the Severn River still seems empty of the weakfish he used
to hook, salt and pepper, then fry.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the first cleanup agreement, but a restored bay remains distant.
Bay health last year scored 32 out of 100 by the nonprofit Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Healthy is 70.
Now, Simmons and his Anne Arundel neighbors are seeing their tax dollars spent in the latest name of bay saving: stormwater fees County resi dents will pay about $13.3 million this fiscal year. They’ll pay an estimated $22 million a year by 2016 to slow runoff pollution.
The tax is new. So is a federal deadline looming before bay states.
Uncle Sam’s mandate?
Three words, in so many words. Those same three words that launched a cause unmatched in ambition, an octopus of bureaucracy, and one ubiquitous slogan.
Save the Bay.
(See BAY, Page A8)THE SERIES AT A GLANCE
• Sunday: The problem
• Monday: Missed deadlines
• Tuesday: Following the money
• Wednesday: Saving the message
• Thursday: Storm over fees
• Friday: A moment of truth
ONLINE EXTRAS: CAPITALGAZETTE.COM/rHEBAY
• Video: Defining the problem and challenges of cleaning the Chesapeake Bay.
• Gallery: See what Maryland experts say the biggest mistakes/successes have been.
• Take our poll: What grade would you give the health of the bay?
• See what others are saying: Weigh in on Twitter with the hashtag #chesapeake.
• Uve chat: On Friday, chat with reporters Alex Jackson and Tim Prudente at noon.
Decline for the three major pollutants entering the bay annually since 1985. Estimated by the Chesapeake Bay Program.... BUT SO IS WATER CLARITY
Water clarity plunged in 2011 to the lowest level recorded by the Chesapeake Bay Program, Clarity refers to the depth sunlight can penetrate. Lower percentages in the graph below means less clarity.
04 CO Tt
8 8 8 CM CM CM
Source: Chesapeake Bay Program
By Joshua McKerrow, Staff
Monday: Sunny. B2
Four sections, 44 pages
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