Chesapeake Bay

Don Rush

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The Maryland Senate is nearing a vote on ending state-mandated stormwater management fees.

A vote could come Friday on the bill, which is sponsored by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller.

Currently nine counties and the city of Baltimore pay the fees, which critics call the "rain tax."

The bill would not require counties to charge a fee to meet federal stormwater requirements to clean up pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. However, they would have to show they can meet the requirements.

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LOTTSBURG, Va. (AP) - The Virginia Farm Bureau says the state's oyster harvest rose 25 percent last year, passing the 500,000-bushel mark.

Officials say more than 504,000 bushels of oysters were harvested during the 2013-2014 season, up from almost 409,000 bushels in the previous season. The latest harvest is the largest since 1987.

The dockside value of that harvest increased to $22.2 million, with an estimated economic impact of more than $58 million.

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There’s legislation in the Maryland General Assembly that would urge Congress to do something about the state of the Conowingo Dam.

The dam is blamed for sediment flowing into the bay which contains harmful nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen when the dam floods.

The Maryland Senate resolution wants the Congress to get the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a study on the state of pollution at the dam.

Last November a $1.4 million study found that cutting pollution into the bay would fall mostly only the shoulders of agricultural communities.

Don Rush

The battle of the budget in Annapolis is about to begin. Republican Governor Larry Hogan took some sharp swipes at his Democratic predecessor Martin O'Malley at Marc Steiner's Annapolis Summit as top Democratic Legislative leaders took aim at his budget proposal. Delmarva Public Radio's Don Rush was there and filed this report.

Don Rush

Governor Larry Hogan has pulled the controversial phosphorus regulations on farmers.

They will not appear in the next issue of the Maryland Register essentially freezing any attempt to impose the new standards that found strong opposition from the poultry and agricultural industries on the Eastern Shore.

Erin Montgomery, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office, said that Hogan has ordered all agencies to begin a comprehensive review of all pending regulations.

Bob Quinn / Chesapeake Bay Foundation

WOODSTOCK, Md. (AP) - Maryland conservationists are joining federal and state agriculture officials in celebrating the first grants for Chesapeake Bay cleanup projects funded through the 2014 farm bill.

Democrat U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin is leading the event Friday at the Howard County Conservancy in Woodstock.

It comes two days after the federal Agriculture Department announced that Chesapeake Bay restoration projects will receive more than $18 million in funding.

Angela Byrd

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says Chesapeake Bay restoration projects will receive more than $18 million in funding.

The grant funding was announced Wednesday by Virginia's U.S. senators, Democrats Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.

The funding is through the USDA regional conservation partnership program.

The largest grant involves $7 million to reward agricultural producers who implement conservation practices to limit farm runoff from dairy and livestock operations. The grant also involves West Virginia producers.

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The battle over reports on the new Maryland phosphorus regulations is not over.

The Environmental Integrity Project says they do not go far enough.

The group studied 62 Eastern Shore chicken farms that used poultry manure on their crops from Caroline,  Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties.

And it says the study found that farmers had spread three times more phosphorus in chicken manure on their fields than their crops needed in 2012.

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BEL AIR, Md. (AP) - State and federal agencies are holding a public meeting to discuss their conclusion that dredging the reservoir behind the Conowingo Dam wouldn't effectively reduce pollution of the lower Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay.

The meeting Tuesday night in Bel Air offers an opportunity for people to sound off on an issue that Gov.-elect Larry Hogan has highlighted.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The Coast Guard has rescued two men after their boat began sinking in the Chesapeake Bay.

Coast Guard officials got a call around 3 p.m. Sunday reporting that two men were on board a sinking boat near the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse near Annapolis. Coast Guard crews from Annapolis and Maryland State Police responded to the scene and found the boaters in about 20 minutes.

Crews gave the men life jackets and began removing water from the boat, which was then towed to a marina. No one was hurt.

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Governor Martin O’Malley is going to move forward with the new phosphorus regulations.

An economic study has just been completed showing that the new rules could cost anywhere from $22 million to $50 million depending on the length of time take to implement them.

But the governor said that it’s time to move forward with the solutions endorsed by scientists and experts across the state to improve the health of the bay.

It could take as long as 6 years to implement.

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CRISFIELD, Md. (AP) - Maryland State Police have rescued five people and a dog from the Chesapeake Bay.

Police said Monday that the group was on a 22-foot boat Sunday night when they experienced a problem with the fuel system. The boat stopped working and strong winds blew the vessel onto a small island southwest of Crisfield.

The group called 911.

Police say the winds were too strong and the water too shallow for rescue boats. They used state police helicopters based in Salisbury and Frederick to hoist the five people and the dog to safety in a rescue basket. 

Maryland Transportation Authority

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The Maryland Transportation Authority says the two spans of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge will be closed this week for maintenance.

Last night the eastbound was closed from 10 p.m. Sunday to 5 a.m. Monday. During that time, two-way traffic was allowed on the westbound span.

For the rest of the week the westbound span is scheduled to be closed on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

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ASHLAND, Va. (AP) - Federal officials are heading to Ashland to announce nearly $9 million in grants from the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund.

The funding being announced Tuesday for Virginia, West Virginia and other states within the bay's estuary are intended to reduce polluted nutrient and sediment runoff into the bay. The District of Columbia is also within the bay's watershed.

The grants will be announced by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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Virginia State Police say at least two people have been confirmed dead and at least 20 people injured in Cherrystone Campground in Cheriton this morning after a storm moved through the area in Northampton County.

County Sheriffs and EMS teams are on their way to the scene with all those who were injured being taken to nearby hospitals.

There were also rescue squads from Virginia Beach, who met with Eastern Shore ambulances at the visitor’s center plaza on the northern end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to take some of the injured to get medical care.

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NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - Scientists are studying what would happen if a series of floodgates are built across the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.

The Virginian-Pilot reports a team led by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science are trying to find out the consequences of a potential 24-mile-long network of barriers between Virginia Beach and the southern tip of the Eastern Shore.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

The Environmental Protection Agency says that Delaware failed to meet its own targets for reducing pollution from nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment through last year.

That stands in contrast to Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia which reached all three goals.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation issued its own report earlier this month that came to the same conclusion.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that nonetheless every jurisdiction fell short in carrying out some of the regulations and monitoring efforts.

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) - Marine officials in Virginia are weighing plans to reduce the harvest of female blue crabs.

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission will take public comment Tuesday on a proposal to reduce the harvest of female blue crabs by 10 percent over the next year beginning July 5.

Officials say the move would help increase spawning potential and help reverse the depleted condition of female blue crabs.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley is hosting the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council.

The council is meeting Monday in Annapolis. The council is scheduled to sign an agreement to update a 14-year-old plan to guide restoration and conservation in the bay's six-state watershed.

Among the issues the plan covers is how the states and the federal government will address the impact of climate change on the nation's largest estuary.

A meeting is scheduled in the statehouse. That will be followed by a news conference at the Annapolis City Dock.

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The latest environmental report has given the bay a grade of C for the second straight year.

The University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science found that the rivers around agricultural areas lost ground last year.

The Choptank River received a C-minus while the upper shore rivers such as the Sassafras Chester and Miles got D’s.

That’s down from the previous year.

The researchers said that much of the problem involved the 50 inches of rain on Delmarva which brought fertilizer and animal waste from the fields into the rivers.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Chesapeake Bay watershed is among eight areas in the nation being designated critical conservation areas.

Virginia U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine said Tuesday that designation ensures federal funding to help implement a variety of conservation projects.

With the designation, the bay is eligible to receive a portion of more than $100 million in annual funding. It would be used to help implement a variety of conservation projects and increase the sustainability of regional water, soil, wildlife and natural resources.

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CONOWINGO, Md. (AP) - Officials say concerns about the sediment-filtering capacity of a dam on the lower Susquehanna River in northeast Maryland must be addressed in the broader context of trying to improve water quality efforts throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Construction of the Conowingo Dam in the late 1920s created a detainment area for some of the sediments and nutrients flowing down the Susquehanna toward the bay.

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CONOWINGO, Md. (AP) - U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin is holding a hearing regarding environmental challenges involving the Conowingo Dam in northeast Maryland.

Construction of the dam in the late 1920s created a detainment area for some of the sediments and nutrients flowing down the Susquehanna River toward the Chesapeake Bay.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

WASHINGTON (AP) - Maryland is joining three other jurisdictions in supporting the Obama administration's plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay watershed. It's seeking to counter an election-year legal challenge by farmers and 21 attorneys general.

The case before a federal court in Philadelphia asks whether the EPA went too far in negotiating a 2010 agreement that sets pollution limits on the nation's largest estuary.

Bob Quinn / Chesapeake Bay Foundation

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Chesapeake Bay Foundation says more friend-of-the-court briefs have been filed in support of a massive restoration of the estuary.

The leading advocate for the bay's cleanup says one amicus brief has been filed by several cities, including New York, Baltimore, Los Angeles and San Francisco. A second was filed by Florida conservation groups.

This month, Virginia's attorney general filed an amicus brief in support of the plan.

Chesapeake Bay Program

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Scientists say an indicator of the Chesapeake Bay's health - underwater grasses - has reversed a three-year downward trend.

The Chesapeake Bay Program released its annual report on underwater grasses on Monday. The program says the abundance of underwater grasses increased 24 percent between 2012 and 2013.

Underwater grasses are considered critical to the bay ecosystem because they offer food to small invertebrates and migratory birds and shelter for young fish and blue crabs.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

With the nation marking Earth Day, Alan  Girard, Eastern Shore director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation says much progress has been made in cleaning up the bay and dealing with population growth on Delmarva.

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HAMPTON, Va. (AP) - Virginia is defending the federal and state plan to restore the Chesapeake Bay.

Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced Thursday the state has filed a friend-of-the court brief in support of pollution limits to restore the bay after decades of neglect. The filing is with the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.

Farm industry groups are appealing a federal judge's decision last September to uphold the federal pollution limits.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Website

The Wicomico County Council has joined The Clean Chesapeake Coalition and has paid $25-thousand to become a member along with other counties such as Dorchester, Kent and Caroline.

The coalition was formed a little more than a year ago after the state developed a Watershed Implementation Plan that is enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The standards for the plans would limit the amount of nutrients and sediment that runs into the Chesapeake Bay.

Don Rush

BALTIMORE (AP) - A Maryland environmental official is starting a tour around the state to talk about efforts to reduce pollution from stormwater runoff.

Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Robert Summers is scheduled to begin the tour on Wednesday at an urban farm in Baltimore.

The tour will highlight stormwater remediation efforts of government, communities and citizens.

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