Efforts to restore the bay, and securing the funding to do so

MARYLAND – Restoring the Chesapeake Bay has been an effort by multiple environmental groups, legislatures, and state leaders for years. However, getting the funding to help with these efforts has historically been a hindrance. “We know that we’re not meeting our targets for 2025, and while the work that we’ve done has been established in protecting the health of the bay, we have a lot more still to do,” says U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen.

As grassroots advocates fight to restore the Chesapeake bay, political leaders like Senator Van Hollen are working to make sure there’s the funding behind those efforts. “We need the risk of resources we’re talking about, we need to direct them in the right place, but we also need that enforcement mechanism to focus the minds and actions of folks throughout the watershed,” says the Senator.

Recently, the senator provided $238 million for the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program as part of the infrastructure investment and jobs act. He also secured $5 million for the Chesapeake WILD program to restore habitats and support recreational watersheds.

Meanwhile, in the general assembly, House bill 1311 is hoping to protect specific funding for the bay. “We feel that this bill would help protect those funds to go towards nutrient reductions into the Chesapeake Bay as it was intended to do,” says one of the bill sponsors,¬†Delegate Charles Otto says, funding for the bay shouldn’t be a piggy bank for all environmental projects. He adds, “It keeps it in perspective of what was approved by the general assembly and not used for other purposes.”

Cindy Dillon with the Sierra Club Lower Eastern Shore says, to get back on track to a cleaner bay, the public needs to be educated, not just environmental groups. “And it is something that we need to get some legislation behind to decrease the amount that’s entering our waste stream,” says Dillon. She adds, “I think people are concerned about the bay, that’s not a surprise, it is a treasure that we need to protect.”

Dillon also says, there needs to be legislation to force the hand of the manufacturers of many plastic products that are polluting the bay. Senator Van Hollen adds, farm run-off into the bay from Pennsylvania is also a major concern that needs to be addressed.

Right now, environmentalists say more than 60% of Chesapeake waterways are impaired and don’t meet state water quality standards.

For more information on how you can help the bay, click here.

Categories: Local News, Maryland