August 03, 2009

CARDIN CALLS FOR EXPANDED REGIONAL COOPERATION TO RENEW THE HEALTH OF THE CHESAPEAKE BAY

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) , chairman of the Water and Wildlife Subcommittee of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, today called for expanded clean water authority and more robust interstate cooperation to help renew the health of the Chesapeake Bay.   Senator Cardin made his remarks at the second in a series of hearings leading up to the introduction of legislation to reauthorize the Chesapeake Bay program.

 

"The Chesapeake Bay and its watershed are in trouble. The Bay continues to have poor water quality, degraded habitats and low populations of many species of fish and shellfish.   In the 25 years since the Chesapeake Bay program started, there are five millions more of us in the region, and the size of our impact has grown twice as fast as our population rate.

 

"Without the Bay Program, the health of the Chesapeake would undoubtedly be worse than it is.   The Chesapeake Bay Program has played a critical role in stemming the tide of pollution. What success we have seen has been because the program focuses on the entire watershed; involves all the key stakeholders; and is based on sound science. But barely holding our own is not good enough.   To build on this, we need significant changes to make the significant improvements so urgently needed.

 

"Working with my colleagues, I intend to introduce legislation in the coming months to reauthorize the Chesapeake Bay Program. In addition to expanded federal resources, the key components of this legislation will provide comprehensive, enforceable, and verifiable standards and requirements throughout the Watershed area. Pollution does not stop at state lines and neither should our revitalization efforts. We must all continue to work together if we want to see further progress toward a healthy, sustainable Chesapeake Bay."


The Chesapeake Bay, the nation's largest estuary, encompasses 64,000 square miles.   Its watershed is home to more than 17 million people, with tributaries in Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. By statute, the Chesapeake Bay Program is a joint federal-state partnership, predominantly led by states within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

 

 

A recent report from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science finds that the ecological health of the Chesapeake Bay remains poor.   The Bay continues to have poor water quality, degraded habitats and low populations of many species of fish and shellfish.   The main sources of pollutants in the Chesapeake Bay are urban and suburban runoff, wastewater, agriculture, and airborne contaminants.   One of the greatest challenges to restoration is continued population growth and development, which impacts forests, wetlands and other natural areas, and is offsetting cleanup efforts.