Stream Cleaner Environmental Forum 2011
As developers we feel that the problems with the Chesapeake Bay are intolerable and need to be corrected. We are aware that there are abnormally high nitrate amounts leaching into the water shed of the Chesapeake Bay. With more people moving into the Bay area, there are going to be more problems with erosion and sediment buildup. Our team has devised a plan which will improve the quality of the Bay and also the surrounding areas. Our company has taken an oath to stand by our ideas and put our theories to work. Our employees will place a silt fence on every disturbed piece of soil to decrease the sediment that washes into the water. We will also require a minimum of five acres of land for every structure built. We will educate new homeowners about the correct amounts of fertilizer and other chemicals to be used on their property. By doing this, it will not only help the erosion problem but also save the beauty of the surrounding areas of the bay.
As developers, we believe that farmers are not the only ones to blame with the problems of the Bay, but they could help us greatly reduce pollution and erosion. They could plant grass buffers so that it would lessen erosion and pollution. Grass buffers should be fenced off from cattle and the grass buffers should be placed 30 feet away from all streams. Offer farmers tax incentives when they have to pump water to other locations when watering cattle. All land turned into grass buffer strips would not be taxed on current real estate value. We could also offer farmers free soil testing so they know how much fertilizer to use on their crops. Last but not least, we could educate other farmers about implementing BMP’s.
There are several things that local governments could do to help the bay and developers. Restricting the amount of salt put down before inclement weather would reduce pollution in runoff. If the local government could give incentives for using current BMP’s, such as tax cuts, they could drastically increase interest. These tax cuts can also be applied to homeowners who correctly apply lawn fertilizer. At the same time, businesses who are identified as point source polluters would have a grace period to conform to BMP’s, and if they didn’t, they would be assessed a higher tax on their operations. Local governments could put zoning laws in place to regulate the construction of new subdivisions. These new subdivisions would have to constructed so that local municipal facilities would be able to offer water and sewer service.
In summary, as developers we are not only concerned about our present bay health but also what the bay will look like 100 years from now. We want to leave a legacy that developers are good stewards of the bay. It is our goal that developers are known for doing their part in cleaning the bay. Since there are many stakeholders involved in polluting the Bay, it will take all stakeholders to pitch in and help clean the Bay.
Luray High School 3RD BLOCK-FARMERS
As farmers we know that we contribute to the pollution in the bay, but we also know that there are ways to help lessen the amount we put into the bay.
One way that we can help lessen the pollution we make is to control the usage of pesticides. The government could give each farmer at least one soil test for free to prevent the over usage of chemicals that are being put down on the fields. Another way that we could help lessen our contribution to the pollution is by moving our feedlots, fences, and cattle away from streams and rivers. We could also use best management practices or BMP’s. If the Government would help cover the cost of moving feedlots and fences away from streams and rivers then we might participate more. We would need to educate the other farmers about things such as soil tests and BMP’s. We would be willing to practice no-till farming on more acreage.
As farmers, we believe that developers could do some things that would help keep the Bay clean. Sediment ponds, silt fences, and larger lot sizes would help the Bay. Sediment ponds would prevent runoff from getting to the bay. Silt fences also keep erosion from getting to the bay. Since less erosion is getting into streams, there would be less pollution in the bay. Larger lot sizes would prevent too many houses being built in one area so chances of polluting the area are less. Developers could play a big part in cleaning up the bay.
As farmers, we should keep persuading people to help keep our creeks, rivers, and bay clean. Advice for homeowners is especially important. They should cease littering as well as decrease their water usage. Think twice before you put a glass bottle into a trash bag, or those plastic holders for soda. If the bag happens to burst open all of the debris would come out and somehow end up in a creek which would wind up in a larger body of water. The trash would also float up on the beaches. The fish and other creatures in the bay would get caught up in it or consume it and either get poisoned, or possibly have birth defects from it. Homeowners could also see whether or not putting in driveways that allow water to flow through the barrier instead of roadside gutters would be beneficial. This water would pass through the soil for filtering and minerals could get used by plants before ending up in the Bay.
Farmers have played and will continue to play a key role in Chesapeake Bay improvements. But as farmers, we also have to continue to stay in business and provide food for people. The Bay cleanup will have to involve all people, and we will do our part as long as the other parties do their part.
Gonzaga is following a process where
Chesapeake Bay Program’s Consensus
We are the Chesapeake Bay program and we are here to protect our areas’ rivers, streams and watersheds. We don’t want to see our local water contaminated with pollution. Whether from run-off, deforestation, or trash wastes, we want to see an improvement from large companies in the way they discard their wastes and also how everyday citizens discard their waste. Most people don’t realize what they flush and throw away sometimes end up in the Chesapeake River, so we want to institute laws and programs that clean our bay.
We should start educating people especially kids on where their trash goes. We should start appealing to the audience about their trash through commercials, also start an add campaign for recycling. We can have the local government heavily tax companies that don’t get rid of their waste correctly. We should also have a place where people can give away their waste that have harmful chemicals in them so that they won’t be so quick to dump them down the toilet and have them end up in the river. The last proposal would be a clean up of non-point pollution sources in the area.
Education of kids can easily be incorporated in the school
curriculum and can come out of taxpayers’ money. The incentive is
that in the long run the youth will be more cautious of what they do
with their trash and also what they allow business to do with their
trash. Appealing to the audience can be funded through donors and
the be a voluntary thing, andthe incentive is that we get a lot of
people to think “green” and not always throw things away it will
catch on and decrease what ends up in the Chesapeake.Law will
mandate taxing the companies and the incentives will be that
companieswill decrease their wastes and find more efficient ways to
make their productsand also the government will make more money.
Picking up the harmful trash will be done through volunteers and the
incentives is that the harmful chemicals such as in batteries won’t
be flushed down the toilet.
Roads play a major
role in maintaining any healthy local economy and infrastructure;
roads are the way a town receives imports and exports their goods,
are considered essential to efficient transportation, and through
their construction, are a source of many jobs. Roads are something
that we cannot possibly conceive of doing without because of the
vital role they play maintaining the Chesapeake Bay’s
infrastructure, even though they are one of the major causes of
runoff pollution and erosion into the bay. A compromise needs to be
reached between the road workers and the goals of the Chesapeake Bay
Program by having them work together on establishing initiatives to
reduce the impact that roads are having on Chesapeake Bay pollution.
Consensus Proposal – Gonzaga Farmers
Farmers contribute positively and negatively to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. We produce various crops that are supplied to people throughout the region. Recently, however, there has been a rising level of concern that the techniques of some farmers are harming the bay. Some of the pesticides used by farmers are running off into the bay, thus causing pollution and damaging biodiversity. There are numerous ways farmers can address this issue, and it is important that we pay close attention to how our methods affect the bay.
One option that would improve the status of the bay is an increase in the use of natural pesticides by farmers. Now, unnatural pesticides are very popular because they can be more efficient in producing crops. A switch to a wider use of natural pesticides would prevent lots of pollution and runoff of harmful chemicals. These natural pesticides would still be effective for farming, but they may not be as convenient as unnatural pesticides. It may also be cheaper for farmers to use natural means of controlling pests. The main concern that farmers would have with this change in pesticides is the efficiency of producing crops. I think the most effective means for implementing this change would be if the government offered a cash incentive for farmers for the use of more natural pesticides.
A second possible solution would be an increase in the use of riparian buffers. These buffers could play key roles in improving the water quality of the bay and in reducing the amount of pollution. The buffers, which are vegetated areas, can catch certain nutrients and pesticides before they reach the bay. Some people argue that widespread use of the buffer system will greatly reduce the amount of farmland. I think the government should make it mandatory for farms to contain buffers, and if the farmer does not want to use natural pesticides, his harmful pesticides may not even affect the Chesapeake. The leaders of each of the six states need to conduct research and determine a constant area for each buffer so that some farms are not more negatively impacted than others. The buffer system may affect other fields such as development, but if the measurements are done efficiently, no stakeholder groups will be dramatically harmed.
Another way we could improve the conditions of the bay is by making fences mandatory on farms that are very close to the bay or to tributaries of the bay. There are already some efforts to increase fences on these farms, but there are still some farmers who let their livestock roam near the water. Animals such as cattle can pollute the water and cause sediment build up. Fences would have similar effects as the buffers, keeping some of this sediment out. The government could fund these projects, or they could offer an incentive for farmers who pay for their own fences. Having fences on the land would be beneficial to other stakeholder groups because it creates a distinction between different land types.
A fourth proposal would be more frequent implementations of sediment ponds, basins that can hold eroded soil and keep it from running off into the bay. Sediment ponds are not difficult to make, and they would not be a major inconvenience for farmers. They would, however, be beneficial in improving the water quality of the bay. I think that many farmers would do this themselves because it is not difficult and really only requires a shuffle. If it is noticeable that not many people are creating sediment ponds, then the government could issue a cash incentive.
Our last proposal is to plant more cover crops. This is already becoming a popular way for farmers to help protect the Chesapeake because the crops help us to. Cover crops can absorb nutrients and then hold them for future crops, which helps us as farmers. The crops also reduce erosion and improve water quality. I think that the main way to continue the use of cover crops is more awareness of the benefits by each of the six states.
In conclusion, farmers have done a lot to pollute the bay, but there are ways that we can help it. Farmers need to work with the government and be willing to change their ways for the good of the bay.
Bay Ecosystems - Summary of Proposals
The ecosystems of the Chesapeake Bay face a huge problem. Increased amounts of development, chemical use in agriculture, and other policies are causing huge amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus to reach their waters. These nutrients cause algal blooms which rapidly deplete oxygen and block vital sunlight from reaching other creatures. The poor effects of this situation on the animals and plants of the Bay are having a ripple effect on other stakeholders; for example, fishermen simply do not make money off of unhealthy fish. There are many ways in which we can stop, or even reverse these problems, but they require the interest and concern of everyone who lives around the Bay. The Bay Program has the power to inspire this willingness to act. If we focus our efforts on advocating for the following policies, we can save the Bay.
The Maryland Agricultural Stewardship Act was put in to support agriculture and its effect on the environment. It aided and helped farmers find practices that would limit the amount of pollution that was run-off their farms and into the Chesapeake. However, funding is lacking in this endeavor. Our group plans to advocate raising the amount of funding for these farmers so that they can reduce the amount of pollution their farms produce. One very cost effective strategy is to use cover crops. In doing this one can help the amount of nitrates and phosphorus that run-off the farmland by keeping soil in place. This will not only help to make a cleaner bay, but also a more productive farm. These chemicals that are pollution in the bay and fertilizers on farms. Manure produces large amounts of the pollutants that are unhealthy to the bay. This act will financially help farmers deal with excess waste. Keeping these farms as places of agriculture is also very important. It is much easier to control pollution from farmlands than of more urban development where nutrients often have no place to go but the bay. Financing for agricultural based business will prove to be beneficial for the health of the bay and the people working on the farms. Being a small group it would be impossible for us to financially support these ideas, but by advocating for the enhancement of these government policies under the Maryland Agricultural Stewardship Act more pressure will but put on them so hopefully more money will go to our cause. It is also important we advocate for such policies to be enacted in other states that are in the bay’s watershed. But focusing on Maryland should be a top priority because they give the smallest amount of financial aid to these farmers compared to every other state.
Today, Oysters population in the bay has dropped 99%. Being one of the best natural bay water cleaners, their disappearance has had significant repercussions on the bay. Increased human development along the bay has in turn raised the amount of pollutants, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, entering the bay. VCU has recently come out with a study that proves one million oysters can filter out 132 kg of nitrogen, 19 kg of phosphorus and 3,823 kg of carbon. If bringing the bay back to its original healthy state, reintroducing oysters would benefit ecosystem of the bay in two ways. It would bring back the population of oysters and the water would become much clearer. In addition, to these positive effects of reintroducing oysters other species can benefit as well. They provide as food for species like anemones, blue crabs and shorebirds. When the populations of oysters are increased, the populations of many other species the live off the bay are helped too. To start reintroducing oyster to the bay, the government needs to advocate and support local oyster farmers with aid such as subsidies. Another idea that has been put on the table is to build protected reef sanctuaries so that oysters can have a safe habitat to breed. These could be done on a large scale by state governments, but it could also be done on a smaller scale if the governments supported local growers. One disputed solution to solving the oyster population is to introduce non-native Asian oysters. Maryland, Virginia and the US Army Corps of Engineers have decided against this solution because of the unknown consequences it could have on the bay. By introducing oysters to the bay would not only help the bay become the healthier, more diverse place we are striving to make it, but it could also serve as a source of income for people who raise these oysters and sell them for food.
Stormwater is a major contributor of pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. It accounts for 19% of the phosphorous and nitrates in the bay, and destabilizes tributaries flowing into the bay by de-contouring them and altering their depth. Sediment pollution, a problem with stormwater, is exasperated by stormwater’s effects on these streams and rivers. This is why the Bay Program must propose a Stormwater Management Operation that would reduce polluted stormwater by deeming certain areas as “sensitive.” These sensitive areas would prohibit construction, so that erosion and sediment runoff control can be achieved. This law, which would be passed at the state level, would see the amount of sediment in the bay from runoff reduced. The mandate would be coordinated and passed in the six states within the Chesapeake Bay watershed: Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New York. To deem a place as “sensitive,” would requite a few criteria. A sensitive place geographically would be susceptible to large amounts of rainflow, for example, the bottom of a valley. In addition, areas of high silt content in the soil are more susceptible to running off than those with a high clay concentration, making soil composition another major factor. The federal Clean Water Act has already mandated Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System Permits or MS4s which controls some sediment runoff from construction sites, but instead of regulating the sediment in the first place, MS4s simply filter some sediment after enters runoff. The SMO would be backed by the Chesapeake Bay foundation that has made proposals for similar regulations to be passed. Enforcement of the SMO would be left to local, as well as federal officials to inspect future building sites before construction begins. As it is essentially a preventative measure, funding would be relatively minimal. In some ways, this will benefit the landscape by reducing erosion and preserving some natural forests from development. The ultimate goal of the SMO would be to reduce deadzones in the Chesapeake by reducing sediment runoff, improving clarity and oxygen levels.
One way to halt some of the pollution from urban runoff is to promote “smart growth,” or low-impact development practices. Many specific practices fall under the umbrella of this catchphrase; for example, green roofing, pervious parking lot surfaces, compact housing developments, etc. The Bay Program may choose to focus some of its efforts towards consulting with developers and educating them on the value of these practices. It may even be possible to raise funding to support these developments. This will benefit the ecosystems by reducing pollution in runoff, but it may also benefit developers because there is an increasing consumer interest in “green” living. Furthermore, compact housing developments are often convenient, inexpensive and appealing to commuters.
Sewage is another major source of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in the Chesapeake. Treated sewage water that is released from treatment plants is a point-source pollutant, but the Bay Program can still capitalize on people’s use of sewers, and use these gains to fund other programs and raise awareness of the issues. In 2004, Maryland passed a law that would charge a $2.50 monthly fee for sewer users – also known as the “flush fee.” The Bay Program should focus some of its energy and resources towards advocating for this policy in the other states in the Chesapeake Watershed, as well as the District of Columbia. The money will be used to fund any of the aforementioned proposals to save the Bay, and if people are forced to pay the money, they will also be forced to become aware of the Bay’s dire condition. This would not likely reduce the amount of sewage, but the repercussions of this policy would greatly benefit the bay ecosystems and, indirectly, fishermen and other stakeholders.
There are many complexities involved in such a daunting task as saving an entire Bay. There will be resistance among those who do not understand the urgency of the issue, or perhaps are blinded by their own greed. However, by the power of peaceful consultation and compromise, we can slowly make this region a better place – not only for the bay ecosystems, but for all those who hold stakes in the health of the Chesapeake Bay.
Consensus Proposal – Gonzaga Homeowners
Waterboyz Consensus Proposal
We watermen are a vital part of the Chesapeake Bay environment. We are self-employed harvesters of the spawn of the Bay, but what happens when there’s nothing left to harvest. The Chesapeake Bay is in terrible condition. The waters are so polluted that entire species of wildlife have been eradicated from the water, and there seems to be little hope for change. Many plants and animals in the Chesapeake Bay area have been placed on the endangered species list as a result of the excessive pollution, including the piping plover, the James spiny mussel, the Delmarva fox squirrel, and the sensitive joint-vetch flower. We watermen rely on the wildlife of the bay for our income, because we harvest the creatures and sell them at market. However, market prices for our products are so low that we can barely break even. What we need is a drastic improvement in the quality of the bay, an increase in wildlife populations, and help from the government to keep us employed. The following five proposals are ways to improve our situation and the environment.
Our first proposal is to improve the oyster populations of the bay through a series of floating oyster reefs. Oysters are vital to filtering the bay’s water, and are a large part of our harvest. In fact, one million oysters can filter out 132 kg of nitrogen, 20 kg of phosphorus and 3,800 kg of carbon. However, they have been decimated by pollution and disease. Oysters grow best when near the water’s surface, due to the fact that they clear up turbidity and allow more light to penetrate the water. At the bottom of the bay, where most oysters are placed, they simply remove oxygen and contribute to the dead zone. With our floating oyster reefs, oysters would sit inches below the water’s surface rather than in the dark depths of the bay floor. This would both increase oyster populations and increase water quality. The funding would come from taxpayer dollars and would be enforced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, who have a vested effort in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. This proposal would also help out many other stakeholder group who depend on the cleanliness of the bay’s waters.
Our second proposal is that the government both changes the laws regarding the harvesting of oysters and subsidizes us watermen so that we are able to support our jobs and families. The primary creature we harvest in the bay is the oyster. However, not only are they decimated and diseased, but watermen are required to return oysters less than three inches in length to the water. The smaller oysters are typically male and sometimes diseased, so we are required to leave in the water the male and diseased oysters, but we may harvest the usually larger females, which is the opposite of what should be done. Leaving in male and diseased oysters undermines the reproduction of oyster populations. We should be leaving the females in so that they can reproduce and increase their populations. We propose the Four Inch Oyster Bill, which, if passed, would require us to leave in the water any oysters greater than four inches, so that more females remain in the water to procreate. We are confident that the Four Inch Oyster Bill, if passed, would greatly improve oyster conditions. We also would like the government to provide transfer payments to registered watermen for a determined period of time. Watermen are making very little, if any, profit, now, and would use the much needed money to improve fishing equipment and improve sales, not to mention put a decent meal on the table for out young children. Of course, the government would have to pass the bill and would also have to provide the money to watermen, which may be difficult to do. However, this proposal would not only benefit watermen, but would also help many other stakeholder groups who have a vested effort in the oyster population and the bay’s cleanliness.
Our next proposal is to reduce chemicals from nearby farms from flowing into the Bay by way of a new law and through education of the public. In our research, we found that one of, if not the top, contributors to runoff pollution is fertilizer that contains phosphorus. Nitrogen is also a main contributor as well. Our proposal is that we pass a law that would simply ban the sale of fertilizer that contains phosphorous and nitrogen. This could help out the health of the Bay extremely. The best part is that this is a law, so it really doesn’t need any funding. Another proposal in accordance with our first is that we launch a public campaign through television that teaches farmers and homeowners how to properly use fertilizer. We would also make a section in our law that requires companies to put a label on their bag that shows the buyer how to properly and safely use the product. This meets the goal of the watermen because the halt of dangerous runoff will have an immediate impact on the Bay. Runoff kills Bay marine life (fish, vegetation, oysters, etc.), so reducing the amount of dangerous chemicals going into the Bay would greatly improve the health of the Bay. This law would definitely help out all of the stakeholders in the Bay who depend on the health and cleanliness of the Bay.
Our fourth proposal is the introduction of stricter regulations for riparian buffers around the Chesapeake Bay. Riparian buffers are streamside vegetative buffers that provide habitats for animals, reduce erosion, absorb nutrient runoff, and provide shade that cools the water, all improving the health of the river. The funding for riparian buffer initiatives in the Chesapeake Bay comes from a grant given by the U.S. Forest Service. As of right now, the Chesapeake Bay Acts and Regulations states that there must be a vegetative buffer no thinner than 100 feet from a stream or riverbank. However, there are a few exceptions, in cases of access paths or other erosion control techniques. The riparian buffers meet the goals of the watermen because they improve the overall health of the river, which the watermen rely on for their way of life. In addition, the riparian buffers would benefit farmers, because they would absorb much of the nutrient runoff from nearby farms.
Our fifth and final proposal is to minimize and maybe even eliminate the amount of storm water that flows into the bay through laws limiting the freedom of construction companies. Storm water poses a major threat to the Chesapeake Bay because the water starts in the city and is heavily polluted by human waste. This water then goes into a drain to be cleaned, but when it rains heavily the sewage water overflows and enter the Chesapeake Bay without being cleaned. They’re a number of ways to fix this problem. The first thing that we would do is enact a law that makes construction and other heavy polluters move away from watersheds. The goal of this measurement is to keep sediment polluted water away from the watersheds. Construction is one of the main polluters of water, so our restrictions would be focused on construction sites. We would make it so only a small amount of dirt can be dug up and exposed at a certain time so that this way sediment exposure would be at a minimum. We would also limit the amount of time that ground can be dug up to further decrease sediment infiltration. To enforce this law we would need heavy fines to be assessed to any companies that break these limitations on construction. We would also need a small task force with the sole responsibility of watching over construction sites and making sure they are following the new rules. Our funding would come from the support of state governments. These laws would help the watermen because it would decrease the pollution in our heavily polluted bay.
In summary, the watermen are in dire need of aid. We need the public’s help, but the public often doesn’t know how to help. As previously stated, though, we believe that the watermen, along with many other stakeholder groups, can be helped immensely buy the institution of floating oyster reefs, the change in laws regarding oyster harvesting, subsidization of watermen from the government, the education of the public regarding chemicals and the reduction of farm chemicals, the improvement of riparian buffers, and the minimization of storm water runoff into the bay. Our well-being is dependent upon the well-being of the Chesapeake, and we watermen believe that these proposals will help not only our cause, but the causes of every other citizen living near the Chesapeake Bay.