GOVERNOR'S PRESS OFFICE
Governor Ehrlich Unveils Major Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiatives
ANNAPOLIS – Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., today announced plans to dramatically strengthen State conservation efforts by creating two Chesapeake Bay protection funds. In an address before the Tri-State Chesapeake Bay Commission, Governor Ehrlich outlined plans to create a Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund to upgrade 66 sewage treatment plants that discharge nutrient pollution into the Bay, and plans to launch a Chesapeake Bay Recovery Fund to strengthen the private sector’s stewardship of the Bay and its tributaries.
“I am deeply committed to preserving and enhancing the Chesapeake Bay,” said Governor Ehrlich. “The goal of my administration’s new initiative is simple: restore the Chesapeake Bay to its rightful status as a great national treasure, one which generations of Marylanders can both enjoy and protect. I look forward to working with Secretary Franks, Acting Secretary Philbrick, legislators and conservationists in the coming months to meet this important goal.”
The Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund: Governor Ehrlich will introduce legislation creating a dedicated fund to upgrade the 66 largest sewage treatment plants in the State to dramatically reduce harmful nitrogen pollution entering the Bay. Sewage treatment plants release 16.3 million pounds of nitrogen pollution into the Bay each year, causing dangerous growths of algae that rob the Bay of oxygen, dirty the water, and prevent sunlight from reaching underwater grasses that create habitat for aquatic life. When fully implemented, Governor Ehrlich’s plan will reduce nitrogen pollution in the Bay and its tributaries by 7.5 million pounds per year – cutting current levels nearly in half.
The Restoration Fund, which would be administered by the Maryland Department of the Environment, will be financed by an environmental surcharge on sewer bills throughout the State and will provide the revenue stream needed to back State revenue bonds that provide the estimated $750 million to $1 billion needed to complete the necessary upgrades. The surcharge would be $2.50 per month per household. Businesses would be charged $2.50 per month for every 250 gallons per day of discharge.
"This is the most significant step toward a clean and healthy Chesapeake Bay in twenty years," said Kendl P. Philbrick, Acting Secretary of the Environment, "and the most aggressive effort to reduce nutrient pollution from sewage treatment plants in the country."
The Chesapeake Bay Recovery Fund: Governor Ehrlich will introduce legislation creating the Chesapeake Bay Recovery Fund to attract investments from private entities, including corporations, foundations and individuals, to invest in programs such as restoration of oysters, bay grasses and cover crops. A public charity 501(c)(3) will help solicit gifts for Bay restoration and handle the funds’ administrative functions. The Department of Natural Resources will manage the funds received and will enter into partnerships with organizations having similar missions and goals as the Department to help restore the Chesapeake Bay.
Gifts to the fund will be used strictly in accordance with the donor’s wishes for large-scale Bay restoration. The fund will employ a wide variety of fundraising vehicles to involve corporations in project sponsorships as well as foundations and individuals in specific projects that are geared to large-scale Bay restoration.
“Governor Ehrlich’s bold initiative demonstrates true leadership and commitment to restoring the Chesapeake Bay,” said Ron Franks, Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources. “I know every single Marylander believes in this cause, and the establishment of this fund will allow them to directly contribute to the restoration efforts. The Bay’s recovery will be greatly accelerated by the aggressive outreach to private partners and the creation of innovative fundraising vehicles.”
“I want to commend Governor Ehrlich for addressing our nutrient reduction challenges for wastewater treatment plants head on,” said Ann Swanson, Executive Director of the Tri-State Chesapeake Bay Commission. “These initiatives represent about one-third of the reductions needed. It’s a strong step in the right direction.”
- More information about the Chesapeake Bay Recovery Fund
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- Governor Ehrlich’s Chesapeake Bay Watershed Restoration Fund
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Posted January 9, 2004