Midge erad­i­ca­tion on Back River be­gins, fol­low­ing Ho­gan’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der

The Avenue News - - NEWS -

The Mary­land Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture—in part­ner­ship with the Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources— be­gan treat­ing a tar­geted area of the Back River in Es­sex (Bal­ti­more County) as part of a pi­lot pro­gram to con­trol midge pop­u­la­tions in the area. Treat­ment be­gan on Mon­day, Septem­ber 11, dur­ing day­light hours.

The depart­ment will treat the area by boat, us­ing an ap­pa­ra­tus de­signed specif­i­cally for midge con­trol, which will ap­ply a Bacil­lus thuringien­sis is­rae­len­sis (Bti)-based in­sec­ti­cide to the riverbed. Bti is a nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring bac­te­ria found in soils world­wide. It is a bac­te­rial in­sec­ti­cide, not a chem­i­cal, and is only harm­ful to a very lim­ited va­ri­ety of or­gan­isms in­clud­ing midge, black fly, and mos­quito lar­vae and a few other aquatic Dipteran (flies) in­sects. Bti is not harm­ful to hu­mans, fish, crabs or other aquatic in­ver­te­brates

Gover­nor Larry Ho­gan signed Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der 01.01.2017.17 in Au­gust, which di­rected the Mary­land Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, in part­ner­ship with the Mary­land Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources, to be­gin this erad­i­ca­tion of the midge pop­u­la­tion in the Back River in Bal­ti­more County. The tar­geted treat­ments will use a bi­o­log­i­cal prod­uct ap­proved for or­ganic farm­ing that was rec­om­mended by a panel of sci­en­tists and will have no im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment or other species. Midges, which have posed a nui­sance since 2008, have had sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic ram­i­fi­ca­tions for tourism, lo­cal busi­nesses, and com­mu­nity fa­cil­i­ties in the county.

“We have heard the re­peated call of lo­cal res­i­dents loud and clear,” said Ho­gan. “Our ad­min­is­tra­tion is proud to take ac­tion to pro­vide im­me­di­ate and much­needed re­lief from this on­go­ing nui­sance and pro­vide fur­ther up­grades to the waste­water treat­ment plant.”

Ac­cord­ing to a 2014 Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources study, nu­tri­ent pol­lu­tion stem­ming from the Back River Waste­water Treat­ment Plant is the likely cause of the midge in­fes­ta­tion in the area. While up­grades to the Back River plant are on sched­ule, the in­fes­ta­tion still poses an im­me­di­ate im­pact to mari­nas, restau­rants with out­door seat­ing, and other small busi­nesses, as well as ac­tiv­i­ties at a lo­cal se­nior cen­ter.

“I com­mend Gover­nor Ho­gan for his lead­er­ship on this is­sue by launch­ing a pi­lot ini­tia­tive to help mari­nas, restau­rants and lo­cal res­i­dents,” said Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Joe Barten­felder. “The state is tak­ing ac­tion, de­spite the county’s re­fusal to act, to re­duce the nui­sance of midges so Mary­lan­ders can en­joy the Back River.”

“We’ve been work­ing on the midge prob­lem for years now. That work has in­volved a lot of re­search, ed­u­cat­ing govern­ment agen­cies, and get­ting de­ci­sion mak­ers to un­der­stand the scope of the prob­lem,” said Coun­cil­man Todd Cran­dell (R-7). “I am ex­tremely pleased that Gover­nor Ho­gan is tak­ing ac­tion when oth­ers would not, and es­pe­cially in the face of those who at­tempted to make a qual­ity of life is­sue a po­lit­i­cal one. “

Ear­lier this year, Gover­nor Ho­gan pro­vided state fund­ing to mit­i­gate the midge in­fes­ta­tion in the Back River area of Bal­ti­more County, fol­low­ing mul­ti­ple re­fusals by the county to ad­dress the is­sue. In Oc­to­ber 2016, Gover­nor Ho­gan of­fered to have the state split the cost of a treat­ment pro­gram, but county of­fi­cials de­clined the state’s of­fer. The ad­min­is­tra­tion moved ahead, ded­i­cat­ing over $330,000 to fund treat­ments for tar­get “hot spots” in the re­gion start­ing in spring 2017 to pro­vide re­lief for lo­cal res­i­dents and busi­nesses through the sum­mer and early fall, while work­ing to as­sess the treat­ments’ ef­fec­tive­ness. How­ever, the state’s ac­tion was de­layed by Bal­ti­more County, the Gen­eral As­sem­bly, and the At­tor­ney Gen­eral.

To date, the state has given $288 mil­lion in fi­nan­cial aid to Bal­ti­more County to up­grade the Back River Waste­water Treat­ment Plant with bi­o­log­i­cal nu­tri­ent and en­hanced nu­tri­ent re­moval tech­nolo­gies, which is an­tic­i­pated to pro­vide a long-term so­lu­tion to the midge in­fes­ta­tion, and to­day’s Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der will en­able the state to move for­ward with de­liv­er­ing im­me­di­ate re­lief for the com­mu­nity.

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