Shore com­mu­ni­ties will get ‘cir­cuit rider’ help on pol­lu­tion

The Kent Island Bay Times - - Senior Satellite -

BAL­TI­MORE — Par­tic­i­pat­ing Eastern Shore coun­ties and towns will share the ser­vices of a pol­lu­tion re­duc­tion ex­pert just as ru­ral churches used to share a cir­cuit rider clergy, thanks to an in­no­va­tive grant awarded Sept. 19 by the Na­tional Fish and Wildlife Foun­da­tion.

The Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Foun­da­tion ap­plied for the grant to as­sist lo­cal gov­ern­ments on the Eastern Shore who want to re­duce pol­luted runoff in a cost-ef­fec­tive man­ner. The NFWF award is for $316,000, which is matched by $347,700 in com­mit­ments from state and lo­cal gov­ern­ment part­ners, bring­ing total in­vest­ment to over $660,000 for the pro­gram.

“Sal­is­bur y is com­mit­ted to be­ing a leader in im­prov­ing wa­ter qual­ity in our rivers, ponds and Bay,” said Mayor Jake Day. “We are will­ing and able to put lo­cal dol­lars into those im­prove­ments; how­ever, where we can lever­age lim­ited lo­cal re­sources in part­ner­ship with our other Eastern Shore neigh­bors, the en­tire Ch­e­sa­peake Bay wa­ter­shed can ben­e­fit many times over.”

The project fa­cil­i­tated by CBF will al­low ru­ral ju­ris­dic­tions to work in close part­ner­ship to re­duce pol­luted runoff. This type of con­tam­i­na­tion comes from hard sur­faces—roads, park­ing lots, roofs — that chan­nel wa­ter and con­tam­i­nants into lo­cal creeks, rivers, and the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay. Runoff is one of the most ex­pen­sive types of Bay pol­lu­tion to ad­dress. The ini­tia­tive will en­able coun­ties and towns to share a staff mem­ber who has ex­per­tise in plan­ning and pri­or­i­tiz­ing clean-up projects, track­ing and ver­i­fy­ing results, as well as other ser­vices.

“Lo­cal gov­ern­ment lead­ers are com­mit­ted to re­duc­ing pol­lu­tion, but the re­sources to do it are of­ten scarce,” said Alan Gi­rard, CBF Eastern Shore Di­rec­tor. “This project al­lows our com­mu­ni­ties to get the tools and ser­vices they need in a cost-ef­fec­tive way.”

Ju­ris­dic­tions that vol­un­teered to con­trib­ute to the pro­gram and will now ben­e­fit from the NFWF grants are: Tal­bot and Queen Anne’s coun­ties, the cities of Cam­bridge and Sal­is­bury, and the towns of Eas­ton and Ox­ford. The Tal­bot County Soil Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict is also a con­trib­u­tor, as is the Mary­land De­part­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment, which pro­vided sig­nif­i­cant fi­nan­cial re­sources in sup­port of this col­lab­o­ra­tive.

The idea for the shared staff per­son, or Regi­nal Ser­vice Provider, and other shared tech­ni­cal ser­vices came out of the Healthy Waters Round Ta­ble, a part­ner­ship of Eastern Shore ju­ris­dic­tions who work col­lab­o­ra­tively to max­i­mize lim­ited re­sources avail­able for pol­lu­tion con­trol. CBF and part­ners ini­ti­ated the col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort in 2015 af­ter see­ing that Eastern Shore ru­ral coun­ties and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties needed help to meet the state’s Ch­e­sa­peake Bay clean-up goals. Sig­nif­i­cant part­ner­ship con­tri­bu­tions came from the Eastern Shore Land Con­ser­vancy, the Harry R. Hughes Cen­ter for Agro-Ecol­ogy, and Univer­sity of Mary­land Sea Grant Ex­ten­sion in sup­port of the Healthy Waters Round Ta­ble. The grant project will take the col­lab­o­ra­tion to the cru­cial next step: con­crete as­sis­tance.

The pro­gram will help par­tic­i­pat­ing ju­ris­dic­tions ef­fi­ciently meet their needs for cleaner lo­cal creeks, and rivers, and the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay. It will as­sist them to lever­age lim­ited re­sources, plan and pri­or­i­tize projects, and speed the de­liv­ery of stormwa­ter best man­age­ment prac­tices.

“Queen Anne’s County is pleased to par­tic­i­pate with our neigh­bor­ing coun­tries and the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Foun­da­tion to con­tinue on our path of im­prov­ing wa­ter qual­ity through build­ing ex­per­tise to solve lo­cal pol­lu­tion prob­lems such as pol­luted runoff, wa­ter­shed project im­ple­men­ta­tion and solv­ing fail­ing on-site sep­tic sys­tems,” said Queen Anne’s County Com­mis­sioner James Moran. “This grant builds on two years of col­lab­o­ra­tion that Queen Anne’s County has had with our sis­ter ju­ris­dic­tions and the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Foun­da­tion.”

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