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July 16, 2014

Maryland on target to meet 2025 bay restoration goals

(Continued)

— The half dozen eastern shore rivers included in the EIP review contribute just a tiny amount of water to the bay. According to a 1999 USGS study, about 90% of the nitrogen and phosphorus comes from three rivers, the Susquehanna, James and Potomac. Among the nine largest rivers flowing into the bay, the Choptank River is the only one flowing through the eastern shore. The others mentioned in the new “study” are smaller than the Choptank, so in reality their consequences are minute. While their nutrient concentrations may be larger than desired, the total amounts they contribute to the bay are likely to be inconsequential.

The “study” provides data on the number of chickens in a jurisdiction and how much manure those chickens are assumed to have produced. It is implied that all that manure is applied to farm fields in that same jurisdiction, which is not the case. Poultry litter moves in and out of the watershed through a successful manure transport program piloted and made permanent by the Maryland General Assembly in 1998.

Dr. Donald Boesch, Professor of Marine Science and President of the  HYPERLINK "http://www.umces.edu/" University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, has often been quoted on the subject of excess phosphorus in the Bay as saying it took decades to reach this point. The U.S. Geological Survey’s study from 2013 says it might take decades to flush out the old, “dirty” water that is being monitored today that is the result of farm practices of decades ago. 

The limited monitoring results included in the EIP study show that even after a decade of continued urban sprawl in the watershed, phosphorus levels have not increased. This definitely indicates success of the efforts that are underway. 

“The timing of the EIP study seems to be intended to discount all the progress made by farmers in the recently released assessments by the state and federal governments,” said Chuck Fry, Maryland Farm Bureau President. “It is also appears to be a last ditch effort to save the Phosphorus Management Tool regulation.

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