Pennsylvania’s Broken Permit System
Health Risks from Bad Water
Finally, Encouraging Words from EPA
EPA Responds to President
Obama’s Executive Order:
Good News, But Why Wait? CBF President Will Baker
M ay 12, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson what we have been calling for, and litigat- Important Bay Improvements At Risk
released an Executive Order, signed ing to achieve. EPA action is especially critical now, as real
that day by President Obama, declar- indications of a Bay fighting for improve-
ing the Chesapeake Bay a national treasure But EPA must go further. It must dramat- ment are apparent. We have long believed
and directing federal agencies to do everything ically strengthen the air section by pro- that when oysters and underwater grasses
within their power to put good science to work posing new strategies to reduce airborne start to do better, that will be an indication
to restore the Bay. pollution. And it must support a commit- of a possible systemic Bay improvement.
ment to accomplish the set of proposals There are now early signs that the distribu-
Many of you have told EPA in letters, cards, through either a binding court-sanc- tion of underwater grasses is increasing.
and at a town hall meeting, that it is time to tioned settlement of CBF’s lawsuit or a Furthermore, oysters appear to be develop-
act. Your voices have given us tremendous new legislative mandate. ing a tolerance to the two parasites, MSX
momentum and we are hearing encourag- and Dermo. Their numbers are increasing,
ing words from EPA. And EPA need not wait for a lengthy review and the general population appears health-
process to begin reducing other sources of ier. Restoration efforts may finally be start-
Specifically, on September 10th, EPA re- pollution. It can still object to a Virginia per- ing to take hold.
leased a draft report outlining what it will do mit for the giant pharmaceutical company
(http://executiveorder.chesapeakebay.net). Merck, which will add more pollution to an What You Can Do
Unlike past documents that focused on already impaired Virginia waterway, We urge you to visit http://executiveorder.
chesapeakebay.net and make your views on
the draft reports known.
“ EPA need not wait for a lengthy
review process to begin reducing
other sources of pollution.
And we urge you to support the legislative
mandate we mentioned above. Congress
will soon debate reauthorizing and
goals, EPA’s draft report focuses on action,
articulates the agency’s intent to require the
(page 15). In Maryland, EPA can take strong
measures to require the massive Sparrows
strengthening the Clean Water Act, a criti-
cal legislative effort to codify EPA’s authori-
ties for reducing pollution from all sources.
Maryland Senator Ben Cardin has circulat-
ed a draft bill in the Senate, and, later
Bay states to do more, proposes to expand Point steel mill to stop toxic contamination this month, we expect to see a similar bill
its own regulatory programs, and promises from migrating offsite and into waters where in the House.
to hold itself and the states accountable children swim (page 13). In Washington,
for progress. EPA can issue a new more stringent permit Thank you.
to reduce pollution from the massive Blue
We have never seen a stronger, more well- Plains sewage treatment plant. And in
documented set of proposals come out of Pennsylvania, EPA must object to destruc-
the federal government’s lead Bay agency. tive fast-track permits which are being .
William C. Baker
Much of what is in the report is exactly issued for new gas-drilling sites (page 6). President, Chesapeake Bay Foundation
2 Fall 2009 cbf.org
Fall 2009 Vol. 35 No. 3●
6 Destination Chesapeake
On the North Branch Susquehanna, a boom in natural gas
drilling poses risks to water quality.
Green frogs in the Chesapeake region seem resistant to a
fungal disease sweeping the globe.
20 Bad Water and Human Health
A new CBF report explores threats from water pollution.
23 Strength in Numbers
Scaled-up oyster reefs are becoming the model for
25 High-Tech Tools for Students
FieldScope, a new CBF education project, involves young
scientists in water-quality research.
6 20 25 30
5 MAILBOX 24 PROFILE 28 DRIFTWOOD
An announcement of legal action against A leader in the creation of an enforceable Bay bits and pieces.
the Sparrows Point steel plant prompts pollution limit system for the Bay found
responses from CBF members. her inspiration on a Virginia river. 30 LAST LOOK
On a tiny outpost in the Chesapeake,
13 CAMPAIGNS 26 OUR GIVING COMMUNITY the women of the Smith Island
Updates on CBF’s Biggest Fight For Clean A living shoreline memorializes Kennedy Crabmeat Co-Op celebrate their deep
Water This Nation Has Ever Seen. Fitzgerald, a new skiff aids Hampton faith and the renewed bounty of the Bay.
Roads programs, and a key benefactor
16 BAY BRIEFS seeds CBF’s litigation successes.
PHOTO CREDITS THIS PAGE: UPPER RIGHT, ISTOCKPHOTO; LEFT TO
CBF activities in the Bay states and the RIGHT, ENDLESS MOUNTAIN VISITORS BUREAU, PETER TANGO, JEFF
District of Columbia. ALLENBY, TOM PELTON/CBF STAFF
& AT THE OFFICE
Save the Bay is published quarterly and provided free of
charge to CBF members by the Chesapeake Bay
Foundation, 6 Herndon Avenue, Annapolis, MD 21403.
Fall 2009 Volume 35 • Number 3
Carol Denny, Editor
Loren Barnett Appel, Director of Creative Services
© Chesapeake Bay Foundation 2009
888/SAVEBAY • cbf.org
THE BAY It’s one thing to say that our waterways are polluted and
that fish and crabs are suffering. Now, news that the Bay’s
degraded condition can cause dangerous illnesses in
humans is summarized in CBF’s latest report, Bad Water
This fall, thousands of workers will designate 2009: The Impact on Human Health in the Chesapeake Bay
Region (page 20).
contributions to CBF through employee
payroll deductions. It’s easy, efficient, It’s time to demand that the federal government and EPA
commit the necessary resources, here and now, to heal the
and a great way to support CBF’s Bay and its rivers and streams. We must care for our water
as if our lives depended on it—because they do.
programs throughout the year.
If CBF is not listed in Carol Denny
your workplace campaign
brochure, find out if
Environmental Awareness Statement
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation saved the following
your campaign accepts resources in the production of this publication:
“write-ins.” When your 11 tons Trees
employer matches its 233,086 gallons Wastewater
employees’ donations, 506 million BTUs Total Energy
your contribution can 29,329 pounds Solid Waste
have twice the impact. 75,763 pounds Greenhouse Gases
Environmental impact estimates were made using the
Environmental Defense Paper Calculator.
For more information about workplace giving, including having
a representative from CBF participate in your charity fair or
kick-off event, contact us at email@example.com or 443/482-2108.
The inks used for this publication are based on linseed oil, a renewable
vegetable oil derived from flax and known for low toxicity.
CHESAPEAKE BAY FOUNDATION
2009 OFFICERS EX OFFICIO TRUSTEES 2009 TRUSTEES Wayne A. Mills HONORARY TRUSTEES
D. Keith Campbell Governor Martin O’Malley .
Donald F Boesch, Ph.D. Charles W. Moorman, IV Louisa C. Duemling
Chairman Governor Edward G. Rendell John T. Casteen, III W. Tayloe Murphy, Jr. C. A. Porter Hopkins
James E. Rogers Governor Timothy M. Kaine Richard L. Franyo Marie W. Ridder Burks B. Lapham
Vice Chairman Mayor Adrian M. Fenty G. Waddy Garrett Alexis G. Sant .
Susan S. Phillips Joanne S. Berkley Alan R. Griffith Truman T. Semans T. Gaylon Layfield, III
Secretary Bay Care Chapter Carolyn Groobey Simon Sidamon-Eristoff M. Lee Marston
Alan L. Wurtzel Hal C. B. Clagett Michael J. Hanley Jennifer Stanley Charles McC. Mathias
Treasurer Clagett Trustee Virginia R. Holton Thomas H. Stoner H. Turney McKnight
William C. Baker Robert A. Kinsley Rt. Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton Godfrey A. Rockefeller
President Matthew J. Klein Michael Watson Russell C. Scott
Byron F Marchant Anthony A. Williams Edmund A. Stanley, Jr.
Aileen Bowdoin Train
4 Fall 2009 cbf.org
Investigations at the Sparrows Point site have found
Action on Sparrows Point carcinogens in the soil and toxic metals, petroleum
by-products, and solvents in groundwater.
At a press conference in May, CBF announced its intent to sue the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), and the
current and former owners of the Sparrows Point steel plant for their failure to address
pollution at the site. Despite a 1997 court order directing that on- and off-site hazardous
waste be cleaned up, dangerous contaminants like benzene and chromium continue to
seep into surrounding waters. Following the announcement, CBF members weighed in.
I used to live (was born in the Dundalk area) close to Sparrows It’s so refreshing that CBF has been suing lately...when gobs of
Point and have suffered numerous “mysterious illnesses” since the money are involved, people do not do the right thing without
age of five…I am so relieved that action is being taken to alleviate being compelled by law.
the exposure to local residents of industrial toxins...I can’t thank —ANNE AMBLER (Silver Spring, Maryland)
you enough! This is way overdue!
—MARY JANE OELKE (White Marsh, Maryland) I cannot see how any argument, e.g., the “economic consequences
of enforcement” rants and threats, can compare to the looming
Great news! Benzene is just the tip of the iceberg. What about… absolute ruin of the value of the Bay, its natural production of
mercury, lead, arsenic, possibly cadmium, selenium, and silver? seafood, and health consequences.
What about PCBs and various sludges from the old coke ovens? —BOB GILBERT (Rockville, Maryland)
The landfill is loaded with a toxic brew that makes the Love
Canal look like child’s play. Learn more about Sparrows Point on page 13 and at
—LARRY EISENHART (Hunt Valley, Maryland) cbf.org/sparrowspoint.
I fully support this action—thank you for helping to clean and Get in touch with Save the Bay!
secure the Bay, a much needed and beneficial natural resource. Talk to us online
—DIANE HARDER (Laurel, Maryland) E-mail the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your stewardship. This should serve to put others Write us a letter
Save the Bay Editor, Chesapeake Bay Foundation,
on notice, especially in Virginia where I live…I am confident that
6 Herndon Avenue, Annapolis, MD 21403
the monies are going to good use, especially for the Bay.
—WILLIAM F. KELLY (Kilmarnock, Virginia) Give us a call
888/SAVE-BAY or 888/728-3229
AS GAS WELLS PROLIFERATE, WATER
ENDLESS MOUNTAINS VISITORS BUREAU
n northern Pennsylvania, at the edge passionate outdoorsmen. The coldwater of tainted water used to release the gas
of the Chesapeake watershed, a race brooks in the state’s northern tier are prime from the ground.
to extract natural gas from one of the attractions for visitors, who spend nearly
largest deposits in the country is $2.5 billion in the region each year. Questions on the effects of the drilling are
causing heartburn among anglers, surfacing in Bradford, Tioga, and Susque-
sportsmen, and water-quality advocates. As big drilling companies from across the hanna counties in northeastern Pennsyl-
nation position themselves to tap into a vania, which were among the state’s leaders
The effects of the drilling could blight what major energy source, some residents are in the number of drilling permits issued in
one conservationist calls “some of the last, uneasy about the environmental impact of 2008. Waterways there are particularly vul-
best places we have in Pennsylvania”—pris- the process. Their concerns focus on the nerable to the changes, and drain directly
tine streams and deep forests that once sus- erosion and sediment created as wells are into the North Branch of the Susquehanna
tained American Indian tribes and still attract built and the disposal of millions of gallons River, the Bay’s largest tributary.
6 Fall 2009 cbf.org
coupled with advances in drilling tech- remove the salt and chemicals in the mix.
niques, have made the state’s natural gas “One of the main concerns is the high
reserves in Marcellus Shale a hot commodity. salinity of the water. If frac water gets dis-
charged into streams in this concentrated
Marcellus Shale is a massive rock formation form, it will affect aquatic life,” he said.
extending from Ohio across Pennsylvania “Also, we don’t have water-quality criteria
and into New York. In recent years, it’s for the many chemicals used in frac water,
become one of the leading sites for domestic so there’s no way to know if the water’s
gas production in the United States, in part being adequately treated.”
because of new technologies that extract
natural gas through a process called To its credit, the Pennsylvania Department
hydraulic fracturing. Drillers inject huge of Environmental Protection (DEP) has
quantities of water into the ground at high devised a strategy to deal with pollutants in
pressure to “fracture” the shale, which then the frac water and proposed regulations
releases natural gas. Sand and chemicals are that would set limits on the discharge of
added to the water to aid the process. these pollutants. Industry has voiced oppo-
Once a sacred place to American sition, and a vigorous debate will likely play
Indian residents, Wyalusing Rocks in Once the gas has been freed, about half of out in Harrisburg in the coming months.
Bradford County offers a panorama of
rolling farmland bordered by the North the more than two million gallons of water
Branch Susquehanna River. The county, injected—now contaminated with salt Several municipal wastewater treatment
in the northern Chesapeake Bay water- and minerals, in addition to sand and plants have already been permitted to
shed, is experiencing a natural gas chemicals—comes back to the surface. receive frac water for treatment. But in
drilling boom that could affect water First, the “frac” water is pumped into a June, DEP issued citations to the Jersey
quality in the region. large, lined impoundment pond or storage Shore wastewater treatment plant, which
tanks; later, it’s vacuumed up by fleets of discharges into the West Branch of the
tanker trucks and shipped to a wastewater Susquehanna near Williamsport, for
plant that can treat it. numerous violations. The state agency
ordered the plant to stop accepting frac
The problem, as CBF Water Quality water deliveries immediately, forcing the
Scientist Harry Campbell sees it, is that borough to store the excess in a holding
very few treatment plants are equipped to tank and underscoring how limited the
facilities for frac water treatment are.
An alternative to treating the frac water is to
dispose of it by injecting it back into the
earth. This too, raises concerns, Campbell
said, because the practice could potentially
affect sources of drinking water. Federal
controls on the process are currently lack-
ing. CBF is fighting for passage of two bills
now pending in the U.S. House and Senate
WORRIES GROW (the latter co-sponsored by Senator Robert
By Carol Denny Casey), which stand to correct the exemp-
tion for frac water treatment granted in
SUSQUEHANNA RIVER BASIN COMMISSION
Adding to concerns about drinking water
“We’re really concerned about getting pro- are reports of methane leaks, some leading
tections in place here,” said CBF to explosions, which have been associated
Pennsylvania Attorney Matt Royer. “There with gas drilling across the state. The
are serious risks to our water from the methane, which can escape when cement
drilling—from stormwater runoff and ero- casings around the bores fail, has been
sion that occurs during the construction reported in private wells in northern and
phase, and from the treatment of waste- western Pennsylvania.
water after the drilling phase.”
Drilling sites are common across the Marcellus
Although the history of drilling in Pennsyl- Shale formation, home to some of the country’s
vania goes back more than 150 years, 21st largest natural gas reserves. Hundreds of wells
century demand for new energy sources, are already active in Pennsylvania’s northern tier.
ENDLESS MOUNTAINS VISITORS BUREAU
ENDLESS MOUNTAINS VISITORS BUREAU
Pristine lakes and forests attract sportsmen and anglers to the region surrounding the North Branch Susquehanna.
Kayakers paddle on the Susquehanna Water Trail near Ulster, Pennsylvania.
North Branch Susquehanna At A Glance
■ Length: Approximately 327 miles.
■ Watershed Area: Approximately 11,310
square miles, including 15 counties in
Pennsylvania and 20 counties in New York.
■ Land Use: Forest (deciduous and evergreen)
and agriculture (hay and pasture, dairy
■ Citizen Groups: Upper Susquehanna Coalition,
www.u-s-c.org; PA CleanWays,
www.pacleanways.org; North Branch Land
Trust, www.nblt.org; Pennsylvania Council of
Trout Unlimited, www.patrout.org. For a com-
plete list of local conservation organizations,
The Marcellus Shale formation (shaded area on larger map) extends over a large part of the mid-Atlantic region, including parts of the
Chesapeake Bay watershed (in green). In recent months, drilling has boomed in Bradford and Susquehanna counties in Pennsylvania,
along the North Branch of the Susquehanna River (inset). Well sites are shown in red.
8 Fall 2009 cbf.org
SUSQUEHANNA RIVER BASIN COMMISSION
Left: More than two million gallons of water per well are injected to release natural gas from the shale formation.
Disposal of the contaminated frac water poses environmental risks. Right: Wells are capped after drilling.
“ The pipelines, the truck traffic, the actual disposal of CBF’s Concerns on Natural
the wastewater—everything has an impact downstream.
—DEB NARDONE, COLD WATER RESOURCE SPECIALIST ■ Stormwater and sediment runoff from
drilling and related construction
A major worry in the largely undeveloped edge and could provide input. That’s what ■ Tens of millions of gallons of fresh
region is the amount of land being dis- the county conservation districts were creat- water withdrawn from local streams
turbed by drilling and its related activities. ed for, to make sure things are done right.” ■ Inadequate facilities and regulations
Extensive forested areas are being cleared for contaminated “frac water”
for drilling pads, pipelines, and roads to CBF Pennsylvania Executive Director Matt ■ Permits “fast-tracked” without local
the well sites, which could accelerate ero- Ehrhart concurred, pointing out that the technical review
sion and pour tons of sediment into near- abrupt change in the permitting structure,
by streams. “There are two or three hun- with no public notice or discussion, sets a ■ Potential drinking water contamination
dred wells in the county already, and a lot dangerous precedent for environmental pro-
of infrastructure going up right now. We’ll tection. “Without technical review of plans, the pipelines, the truck traffic, the actual
see frenzied activity this year,” predicted DEP is relying solely on the drillers’ paid disposal of the wastewater—everything has
Mike Lovegreen, District Manager of the consultants to ensure that streams are not an impact downstream. We’re talking about
Bradford County Conservation District. polluted by sediment,” explained Ehrhart. [protecting] true wilderness areas, pristine
streams where our members hunt and fish.”
Until March of 2009, the state’s county At the current rate of drilling, more than
conservation districts—the environmental 30 million gallons of water could be drawn CBF is fighting to protect the region’s natu-
overseers who provide the “boots on the for gas wells this year in Bradford and ral resources against the effects of the
ground,” according to CBF’s Royer—were Susquehanna counties alone. The huge drilling. In August, it challenged three per-
responsible for approving erosion and sed- withdrawals have led members of conser- mits issued to drilling and pipeline con-
iment permits for gas well construction. vation groups like Pennsylvania Trout struction companies in Tioga County.
But a sudden decision by DEP excluded Unlimited to question whether local “These permits were issued without techni-
the county conservation districts from the resources can withstand the pressure. As cal review and an analysis of the damage
permitting process. Instead, the depart- part of the permitting process, DEP caused by construction and post-construc-
ment instituted a new fast track permitting requires drillers to specify the sources and tion runoff. That violates both the federal
option that allows drillers to obtain per- location for the fresh water they use; the Clean Water Act and Pennsylvania law,” said
mits without any technical review of plans. Susquehanna River Basin Commission CBF’s Royer. The Pennsylvania Environmen-
The unexpected action raised suspicions (SRBC) also regulates the process. tal Hearing Board will rule on the case.
that in the rush to drill, local environmen-
tal oversight was being brushed aside. “The SRBC and DEP have done a pretty To learn more, visit cbf.org/MarcellusShale.
good job of overseeing where the with-
“This is the biggest impact of land in drawals are being taken,” said Deb Carol Denny, editor of Save the
Bradford county since it was clear-cut for Nardone, a Cold Water Resource Specialist Bay magazine, is a native of
timber in the 1800s,” said Lovegreen. “The who works with the Pennsylvania Council Pennsylvania. She last wrote
DEP decision is something we’d like to see of Trout Unlimited. “But the new roads built for Save the Bay on Maryland’s
reversed, because we have the local knowl- to get to the well pads, the stream crossings,
W AT E R - W I S E
T H E N O R T H E R N G R E E N F R O G , AT H O M E I N T H E B O G
BY CAROL DENNY
10 Fall 2009 cbf.org
On their way to maturity,
green frog tadpoles absorb
their tails and grow legs.
n a warm evening, on any first wild animals they encounter, a memo-
one of thousands of streams rable introduction to the wonders of the
and ponds dotting the Chesa- natural world.
peake landscape, you’ll hear
its distinctive call—a cacoph- Once their remarkable metamorphosis from
onous twang that sounds like a loose banjo tadpole to mature frog is complete, frogs
string. The northern green frog, one of the breathe with their lungs on land, using the
region’s most common amphibians, is mak- muscles in their throats. Underwater, they
ing itself at home. breathe only through their skin, which con-
tains a dense web of blood vessels that carry
And that’s a good thing, because frogs are a oxygen to the rest of the body. Lacking
prime indicator species, exceptionally sensitive scales, they rely on a coating of mucus to
to changes in their environment. With their keep their skin moist.
thin, porous skin, they’re particularly suscepti-
ble to toxins in water and air. When they dis- “Green frogs are a good species to monitor
appear from an area, it can be an early warning to see trends and declines,” says J.D.
sign of dangers in the larger ecosystem. Kleopfer, a Wildlife Diversity Biologist with
the Virginia Department of Game and
Pollution is not their only threat. Frogs are Inland Fisheries, “but they’re cyclical in
also endangered by the ongoing loss of wet- nature. People often call me and say, ‘Last
lands and forests. If their natural breeding year I heard lots of frogs in my yard, and
grounds are disturbed or eliminated, the this year, I don’t hear any at all.’ I explain
frogs will find it harder to survive. that they’re changeable; this could be a
boom year because of a wet spring, and
Rana clamitans melanota, the northern green next year it will change. You have to look at
frog common to the Bay region, is a medi- long-term data to see any trends.” This year,
um-sized frog about two to four inches he notes, “frogs got off to a really good start
long. It lives only in freshwater, mostly in because of the wet weather. There’s proba-
shallow ponds, ditches, and grassy swales. bly some localized decline, but we don’t
Its most distinctive feature is a pair of ridges have any information yet.”
along its back. It’s one of the most active of
all native frogs, and known to make enor- Biologists are keeping a close watch on
mous leaps. For many youngsters, the big- frogs these days, looking for signs of a ram-
eyed, slightly slimy creature is one of the pant fungal infection called chytridiomyco-
BILL PORTLOCK/CBF STAFF
The most common frog in the
Chesapeake region, the northern green
frog inhabits freshwater ponds and
wetlands. It has protected status,
meaning it cannot be harmed or killed.
Male green frogs have larger external
eardrums (tympanums) than females.
Tympanums appear as raised circles
behind and slightly below the eyes.
Once a tadpole becomes a mature
frog and moves to land, it breathes
through its lungs. Underwater, adults
absorb oxygen through their skin.
sis (chytrid for short) which has devastated seen massive die-offs like those happening Federation and the American Association
frog populations around the globe. out west or in Central and South America. of Zoos and Aquariums, recruited volun-
National Geographic magazine quoted Aus- Our frog population might not be teers to collect data on frogs in their region.
tralian researcher Lee Berger as saying the immune, but it’s tolerating chytrid. We’re Citizens listened for frog calls several times
outbreak and resulting loss represented not sure why. It seems to be species-spe- a week during breeding season, which runs
“the most spectacular loss of vertebrate cific, particularly devastating for moun- from early spring to late August, and sub-
biodiversity due to disease in recorded his- tain-type frogs. It might be because they’re mitted their findings for evaluation.
tory.” It reported that chytrid is now found more susceptible to exposure to ultraviolet
on all continents where frogs live, in 43 light. There are a lot of questions that have “It would be a sad world without that loose
different countries and 36 U.S. states. to be answered.” banjo string sound,” said CBF Senior
However, frogs in the Chesapeake region, Naturalist John Page Williams. “Our
including the northern green, seem to be Frogs and amphibians all over the globe responsibility is to be good stewards of this
unaffected. are increasingly stressed by water pollu- planet, so that we can protect not only
tion, climate change, and disease. northern green frogs, but ourselves.”
“Almost everywhere we test in Virginia, Scientists are sharing information to moni-
we find positive signs for chytrid,” tor the health of their populations world- Learn how to make your backyard invit-
Kleopfer says. “We think it might be part wide. Recently, Frogwatch USA, a project ing for green frogs and other wildlife. Visit
of natural fungal fauna, but we have not managed by the National Wildlife cbf.org/wildlife.
GREEN FROG facts •
DESCRIPTION: Green frogs aren’t always CALL: Green frogs sound
green; they can be bronze or brown, but are like the twang of a loose
usually green on the upper lip. They are 2.5 to banjo string. Their call is
4.5 inches long, with large external eardrums usually given as a single
and prominent ridges on either side of their note, but is sometimes
backs. Their bellies are white with a darker pat- repeated rapidly three or four
tern of lines or spots. The male has a yellow times. Most frogs and toads
throat and swollen thumbs. start to call about a half-hour
HABITAT: Green frogs live close to shallow, fresh
water and are widespread in wetlands, ponds, IN YOUR YARD: Create frog-friendly
and streams throughout eastern North America. spaces by providing clean water and hid-
A subspecies, the Northern Green frog (Rana ing places with plenty of insects to eat. To
clamitans melanota), is found from Canada to make sure that frogs can get into and out of
the Carolinas. your pond with ease, provide logs or rocks
for them to climb on and avoid steep
BREEDING: Green frogs first mate when they are edges. Plant vegetation native to your
one to two years old. The breeding season runs area around the edges to provide cover.
from March through August, peaking in mid- Frogs absorb chemicals through their
summer. Females lay about 3,000 eggs at a skin easily, so do your part to keep
time. Fertilized embryos develop into tadpoles in garbage, chemicals, and non-native
about 30 days; tadpoles take up to a year to plants and animals out of the natu-
grow into adult form. ral environment.
12 Fall 2009 cbf.org
CBF Pressures Steel Plant and Agencies
for Clean Up
T he bottom of Bear Creek off the Patapsco
River in Baltimore is coated with a sub-
stance that resembles solid, stinky tar.
onsite; water pollution discharge permit vio-
lations at the steel mill’s wastewater treat-
ment facility; potential air pollution viola-
tions; and expansions of the Grey’s Point
The reason looms nearby: the Sparrows landfill in violation of the consent decree. Dr.
Point steel plant in Dundalk. Nearly a centu- Beth McGee, Senior Regional Water Quality
ry of industrial activities at Sparrows Point Scientist for CBF, said that benzene, a human
has left behind a legacy of toxic contamina- carcinogen, has been found at 100,000 times
tion that rivals many Superfund sites. the government’s Maximum Contaminant
Pollution has ravaged the Patapsco, Bear Levels in groundwater flowing from the site
Creek, and other nearby streams. into the Patapsco River. Yet the potential
human health and environmental risk from
The Bear Creek sediment is a graphic illustra- exposure to this and other contamination has
tion of why the Chesapeake Bay Foundation not been evaluated or addressed, as required
(CBF) and partners have announced their in the 1997 agreement.
“ Benzene, a human carcinogen, has
been found in groundwater at levels
100,000 times the legal limit.
intention to sue the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), the Maryland
Department of Environment (MDE), and the
Several local residents and businessmen
have joined CBF and the Baltimore Harbor
Waterkeeper in the possible legal action.
past and present owners of the plant. In CBF has expressed a willingness to with-
1997, original owner Bethlehem Steel agreed hold the lawsuit if substantial progress can
to clean up pollution at the site and to assess be assured.
risks to human health and the nearby ecolo-
gy from the pollution. Many of the terms of “Steel plants can be run successfully with-
the agreement have not been met. out being a major source of pollution. We
look forward to steps being taken by the
Past and recent investigations have found car- current owner Severstal, MDE, and EPA to
cinogens in soils at the mill site at levels many ensure that the operation of the facility is
times the Maryland soil clean-up standards; in compliance with its permits and the
high concentrations of toxic metals, petrole- consent decree,” said CBF Vice President
um by-products, and solvents in groundwater for Litigation Jon Mueller.
Residents of communities near the Sparrows Point steel plant
face the risks of exposure to many toxic wastes. CBF has
announced its intent to sue to force an on-site cleanup and an
investigation of off-site contamination.
King William Reservoir:
It’s Dead The Mattaponi River, endangered by a proposed
reservoir project, has been spared after a
T he proposed King William reservoir, the sub-
ject of more than 20 years of intense legal
wrangling and political maneuvering, has finally
The U.S. Justice Department chose
not to appeal the ruling, and the
Army Corps of Engineers suspended
hard-fought battle by CBF and others.
come to an end. The Newport News, Virginia, the permit, ordering Newport News to pro- loss alone would have represented the single
City Council delivered the coup de grace in vide additional justification for the reservoir. largest permitted loss of wetlands in the
September with a unanimous vote to kill the These decisions sealed the reservoir’s fate. Mid-Atlantic region in the history of the
controversial project after city waterworks offi- Newport News officials opted to abandon Clean Water Act.
cials recommended that all work be terminated. the project and pursue alternative sources of
water to supply the city’s future needs. “We are very gratified that Newport News
The city’s decision to kill the reservoir finally abandoned the reservoir project,”
stemmed directly from a lawsuit brought by The formal end to the King William reser- said CBF Virginia Executive Director Ann
CBF, the Alliance to Save the Mattaponi, the voir is a great victory for CBF members, Jennings. “This is a profound victory not
Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club, the trustees, staff, supporters, and thousands of only for CBF and the other partners, but to
Mattaponi Tribe, and the Southern citizens across Virginia who for years vigor- the many legislators, scientists, federal
Environmental Law Center. The lawsuit ously opposed the environmentally destruc- employees, and citizens who passionately,
challenged the federal permit issued to tive project. If built, the reservoir would persistently fought to protect their homes,
Newport News for the reservoir, and in a have destroyed more than 430 acres of pris- the Mattaponi River, and the Chesapeake
major victory for the environment, a U.S. tine nontidal wetlands, threatened Virginia’s Bay. CBF thanks them for their steadfast
District Court ruled last March that the per- American shad population, and flooded support and their efforts to fight for what
mit was arbitrary, capricious, and invalid. American Indian cultural sites. The wetland was right.”
Enforceable Limits Drafted for Bay Clean-Up Plans
D iscussions on pollution in the Chesapeake
watershed begin with a single fact:
Scientists have determined that to remain
enforceable limits for pollution in the Bay
and its rivers—a key demand in the lawsuit
against EPA filed by the Chesapeake Bay
from all sources,” said CBF Senior Regional
Water Quality Scientist Dr. Beth McGee.
“That’s crucial. Perhaps more importantly,
healthy, the Bay can accommodate no more Foundation (CBF) and its allies last there will be consequences if the states fail to
than 175 million pounds of nitrogen pollution January. The pollution budget, called a develop adequate plans or fail to make
a year. TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) would progress in achieving the necessary pollution
be the first in the nation to require that Bay reductions.”
The Chesapeake 2000 agreement, a land- states meet explicit pollution limits or face
mark pact to improve regional water quality, the consequences. Pollution sources fall into two categories:
used this number as its targeted goal, and point sources, such as sewage treatment
agencies developed plans for individual trib- Pollution allowances across the watershed— plants and large stormwater systems requir-
utaries that would limit total pollution to from sources such as sewage treatment ing permits (about half of the Bay’s urban
that number. The plans, however, lacked plants, urban and suburban stormwater, agri- stormwater), and non-point sources, such as
specifics, and there were no penalties for fail- cultural runoff, and more—would be deter- runoff from farms and septic systems. The
ing to achieve the necessary reductions. mined under the TMDL, which is expected Bay TMDL will address both, fine-tuning the
Thus, the plans failed. In 2008, monitoring to become final in December 2010. allocation formula to achieve reductions in
showed that 291 million pounds of nitrogen the Bay’s overall pollution budget.
pollution annually were smothering the “The big difference between this new
nation’s largest estuary. approach and past clean-up plans is that “CBF’s involvement in legislation, litigation,
under the new TMDL, EPA will actually and the development of this new TMDL has
Now, the U.S. Environmental Protection require the states to specify, in great detail, really placed the enforceable pollution limit
Agency (EPA) and the states are developing how they will achieve pollution reductions at the top of the Bay agenda,” said McGee.
14 Fall 2009 cbf.org
Pollution Allowance for Merck & Co. Opposed
C iting an obvious violation of Virginia law
and the Clean Water Act, CBF has chal-
lenged approval of a request by Merck & Co.,
additional pollution request by first accom-
plishing a corresponding reduction else-
where in the Shenandoah river basin.
2000 agreement, and the basic Bay cleanup
framework. It has called upon EPA to inter-
vene in the matter. To date, EPA has been
Inc., an international pharmaceutical giant, to silent, even in the face of an obvious viola-
forego reducing its nitrogen pollution to levels “The Commonwealth has developed a host tion of the law and a precedent-setting deci-
necessary for a healthy Shenandoah River and of reasonable, viable, and affordable options sion that has the potential to unravel the
Chesapeake Bay. that Merck can employ to come
into compliance with the pollu-
“Merck’s failure to reduce pollution will tion limits. Every other discharg-
only worsen unacceptable conditions in the er is required to employ such
Shenandoah and the Bay,” said CBF Virginia compliance options. Why not
Deputy Director Joseph Tannery. “Virginia Merck?” asked Tannery.
needs to find ways to reduce, not increase, Front Royal
pollution to the Bay and its rivers.” After a lengthy regulatory review
process, the state and Merck did
It’s a David and Goliath story, pitting CBF agree to several measures in an Luray
against not only a corporate titan with attempt to address the well-doc-
$7.8 billion in net income last year, but umented pollution problems in
also the bureaucracies of the U.S. the Shenandoah river basin. Harrisonburg
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) However, the conditions placed Merck & Co. plant
and Virginia’s Department of Environmental on Merck are voluntary and fail
Quality (DEQ). to guarantee water quality
Merck has argued for a reversal of an earlier
mandate that it reduce its wastewater pollu- “There is the very real possibility
tion discharge levels to protect the that Merck will be discharging
Shenandoah. At stake is more than the addi- pollution without any offset for
tional 29,216 pounds of nitrogen pollution years to come,” Tannery noted. Merck & Co.’s Elkton plant has received approval to forego
that Merck wants to release annually into reducing its nitrogen pollution in the already overloaded
the river. The case has statewide, even Shenandoah River.
regional, implications. Merck is
In June, CBF filed an appeal of a DEQ but one of a growing list of industries and multi-state effort to clean up the Bay.
decision allowing Merck to avoid increased municipalities seeking to discharge Tannery concluded, “In this case, omission
pollution for the already overloaded increased levels of pollution. If allowed, equals permission. I certainly hope EPA will
Shenandoah River. CBF argued that the state such increases will “bust the cap” estab- soon find the courage to stand behind its
had no legal right to grant Merck’s request lished by scientists as the maximum own laws and overturn Virginia’s decision in
under Virginia law or the Clean Water Act. amount of pollution the Bay and it rivers this case.”
Moreover, CBF highlighted multiple solu- can safely tolerate.
tions that DEQ could require to ensure pro- Share your thoughts on our Facebook Fan
tection of the river. One of those solutions CBF has concluded Virginia’s actions violate Page at facebook.com/chesapeakebay or on Twitter
would be to require Merck to “offset” its the federal Clean Water Act, the Chesapeake by adding the hashtag “#cbfmerck.”
CBF Challenges Permits Related to Lack of local oversight
OFFICE OF SENATOR CASEY
Natural Gas Drilling on gas-drilling permits
For the first time since the Pennsylvania puts trout streams and
Department of Environmental Protection wetlands at risk.
(DEP) took over review of plans that regulate
erosion, sediment, and stormwater at natu-
ral gas drilling sites, the Chesapeake Bay
A bill introduced by
Foundation (CBF) is challenging three per- Jackson Township and in Tioga State Forest, Senator Robert
mits in Tioga County, contending they vio- and to Ultra Resources, Inc., authorizing Casey (D-PA) seeks
late both Commonwealth and federal laws. earth disturbance for substantial drilling to amend the Safe
operations in Gaines and Elk townships. The Drinking Water Act
DEP stripped review authority from local permits were granted with no analysis of the to safeguard
County Conservation Districts in April, and rate or volume of stormwater runoff from the groundwater threat-
then instituted an expedited stormwater construction, which can pollute streams. ened by natural gas
permitting process that does not allow for drilling.
public participation or meaningful agency “These permits were issued without techni-
review of permit applications. cal review and an analysis of the damage The Frac Act: Federal Protection
caused by construction and post-construc- for Water Supplies
“Instead of protecting the environment, DEP tion runoff,” said CBF Pennsylvania Staff
is rubber stamping permit applications with- Attorney Matthew Royer. “That violates both Pennsylvania’s current natural gas boom has
out any formal review,” said CBF’s Pennsyl- the federal Clean Water Act and Pennsyl- increased concerns about water quality,
vania Executive Director Matt Ehrhart. “Wild vania law. Conservation Districts have the especially groundwater and drinking water
trout streams and their tributaries, and excep- local knowledge and experience to review contamination (see page 6).
tional value wetlands that should receive extra the permits and manage the program. What
protection under the law, are at risk due to the we see here is a clear failure by DEP to meet .
In June, Sen. Robert P Casey (PA) and Sen.
lack of thorough DEP oversight.” fundamental permit review obligations. DEP Chuck Shumer (NY) introduced legislation
should restore authority to the Conservation to prevent groundwater contamination dur-
CBF is challenging permits issued to Districts.” The appeals will go before the ing the drilling process known as hydraulic
Fortuna Energy, Inc., authorizing earth dis- Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board. fracturing or “fracking.” Fracking involves
turbance for pipeline construction in pumping a pressurized chemical slurry down
“Gas drilling will bring some level of environ- wells to fracture rock deposits and free the
SUSQUEHANNA RIVER BASIN COMMISSION
mental damage, as well as damage to roads gas. Currently, there are no federal controls
and bridges,” Royer said. “That damage on the process. Casey and Shumer’s legisla-
must be minimized through wise application tion, dubbed the “Frac Act,” aims to close
of environmental regulations. It also under- this loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act.
scores the need for a severance tax on
drilling so that the state can fund mitigation “My major concern is that the chemicals
projects to offset damages.” added to the water to create fracking fluids
are highly toxic,” said Casey upon introduc-
Stimulus Funds Aid Water Quality ing the bill. “These chemicals are injected
right below underground drinking water.
An unprecedented award of federal stimulus This is especially important to Pennsylvania
money will boost nitrogen pollution reduc- because our state has the second highest
tion in Pennsylvania waterways. The $14.9 number of private wells for drinking water in
million package from the American Recovery the nation, second only to Michigan.”
and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the
largest single award in CBF history, will sup- Find out how you can support clean water and the
port a variety of farm conservation practices. federal “Frac Act” by visiting cbf.org/actioncenter.
The funds, earmarked for “shovel-ready”
projects, will address chronic water pollu- For more information on how CBF is working
CBF is fighting permits granted in Tioga County tion issues across 16 counties. to protect Pennsylvania waters, visit cbf.org/
regarding erosion, sediment, and stormwater Pennsylvania or call 717/234-5550.
controls at the sites of natural gas wells. Learn more at cbf.org/stimulus.
16 Fall 2009 cbf.org
TOM ZOLPER/CBF STAFF
Town Hall Meeting Draws Hundreds A standing-room-only
Demanding EPA Action crowd urges federal
Over 400 passionate people came to a town officials to accelerate
hall meeting in Annapolis on August 11 to urge Bay restoration.
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) to step up in the fight to Save the Bay.
President Obama mandated that EPA and stormwater pollution which results from
certain other federal agencies submit reports sprawl. Baker said EPA could refuse to issue
on ways to restore the Bay. The reports will federal permits in areas where this pollution
be used to develop a Bay restoration strategy, violates established federal guidelines.
scheduled for draft release on November 9.
To hear Will Baker’s remarks, go to
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), cbf.org/TownHall.
Environment Maryland, and other groups
organized the town hall meeting to demon- Alternative to Highway Project Urged
strate public support for an aggressive EPA
approach. Charles County leaders have proposed a six-
mile, $60 million, four-lane highway that Streams and wetlands around Mattawoman Creek
“If the Bay is going to be saved, the federal would cut through pristine forests, destroy are threatened by Charles County’s plan to build a
government has got to be willing to draw a productive wetlands, do nothing to reduce six-mile highway through the heart of the region.
line in the sand,” CBF President William C. local traffic congestion, and provide no assis- Opponents have offered alternatives that would
Baker told the standing-room-only crowd. tance to residents who commute to nearby shift growth closer to existing development.
Chuck Fox, EPA Senior Advisor on the congestion?” said Kim Coble, Maryland
Chesapeake Bay, acknowledged to the audi- The Cross-County Connector would lead to Executive Director of CBF. “Instead, county
ence that “game-changing solutions” will be sprawling development throughout the leaders need to help people get to their jobs.
necessary to reverse decades of degradation Mattawoman Creek watershed. Currently, They need to support communities rather
in the Bay’s water quality. sprawl in Charles County consumes natural than promote sprawl.”
areas at one of the fastest rates in the state.
Audience members spoke ardently about the The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates In July, the Smarter Growth Alliance for
need for the federal government to lead the suburban development in Charles County will Charles County, which includes CBF and
clean-up fight. The public seemed especially destroy more than 10,000 acres of forest— 16 other environmental organizations,
concerned with sprawl development and nearly 33 times the size of the National Mall— released Trouble Ahead: Use Alternative
in the next 20 years. The proposed highway Routes, proposing an alternative to the
WILLIAM N. HATHAWAY
and the houses that it would serve would cut highway. The report also suggested the
through the heart of one of the cleanest, most county redirect its resources to enhance
productive areas of the Chesapeake Bay. existing neighborhoods and communities
and safeguard natural areas.
There’s a better, more popular alternative.
According to an independent survey con- Both the Army Corps of Engineers and
ducted in June, a substantial majority (73 Maryland Department of the Environment
percent) of Charles County voters support (MDE) have voiced numerous concerns and
commuter rail service connecting the coun- questions about the highway, and are review-
ty’s population centers—Waldorf and La ing permit applications. MDE has announced
Plata—to Washington, D.C., over the pro- it will make a decision on its permit by
posed highway. December.
“The public gets it. Money is tight and Rt. Learn more at cbf.org/mattawoman.
301 is clogged with traffic. Why spend pre-
Chuck Fox, EPA Senior Advisor on the cious resources on a highway that cuts For more information on how CBF is working to
Chesapeake Bay, spoke at a Town Hall meeting through one of the most productive fisheries protect Maryland waters, visit cbf.org/Maryland
in Annapolis on August 11. in the Bay region, and will do little to ease or call 410/268-8816.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Obama Commands New Approach
REP. KRATOVIL’S OFFICE
In response to the
to Bay’s Problems president’s Executive Order,
President Obama’s Executive Order on federal officials confer on a
Chesapeake Bay Restoration, signed on May coordinated Bay plan.
12, requires the federal government to create
a new, government-wide, coordinated strate-
gy for protection and restoration of the
Chesapeake Bay. Freshmen Congressmen Fight
For Chesapeake Bay Rep. Frank Kratovil (MD-1) has been an active
Said Doug Siglin, CBF Federal Affairs champion for the Bay during his first months in
Director, “President Obama’s Executive As CBF pursues litigation against EPA to force Congress, sponsoring several environmental
Order gives us real hope that the federal gov- it and other federal government agencies to measures.
ernment will significantly accelerate its enforce environmental law, several new allies
actions to save the Bay and that EPA will in Congress have joined The Biggest Fight for joined about 30 other members in advocat-
assume its lawful role as a leader of that Clean Water This Nation Has Ever Seen. ing that the federal highway system better
effort.” manage its polluted runoff. Perriello also
Although freshman representatives typically showed notable political courage in voting
The coordinated strategy will be prepared by are slow to make an impact, new members for legislation to address climate change.
a new “Federal Leadership Committee,” from the Chesapeake Bay watershed have
chaired by Administrator Lisa Jackson and quickly taken action to protect and restore the On the other side of the Capitol, freshman
involving senior officials from the depart- Chesapeake Bay. Senator Mark Warner (VA) has introduced
ments of Agriculture, Defense, Interior, legislation to continue and strengthen the
Transportation, Commerce, Homeland One of the leaders has been Maryland National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admini-
Security, and perhaps others. It will examine Congressman Frank Kratovil (MD-1), who stration’s (NOAA’s) Chesapeake Bay restora-
possible policies and programs, impacts of sponsored an amendment to bring new sup- tion work.
climate change, agricultural conservation port to farmers who install practices that
assistance, conservation of open spaces, reduce pollution. Kratovil sponsored anoth- Diverse Bay Coalition Launched
public access, research, monitoring, and er measure to authorize and continue a suc- CBF has joined about 80 other organiza-
other topics. cessful U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pro- tions, ranging from large national environ-
gram to protect, restore, and enhance wild mental groups to all-volunteer stream clean-
Following the release of preliminary reports bird habitat. up efforts, to form a new coalition to help
on September 10, a draft of the plan and the promote federal actions to restore the
coordinated strategy paper are scheduled to Another early leader has been Virginia Chesapeake Bay.
be released on November 9 for a 60-day Congressman Gerry Connolly (VA-11), who
public comment period. in July successfully amended an appropria- The coalition, whose signature initiative is the
tions bill to increase funding for oyster “Choose Clean Water Campaign,” will
Learn more at http://executiveorder. restoration. A second new Virginia Congress- inspire, unite, and guide its members to talk
chesapeakebay.net. man, Rob Wittman (VA-1), joined Connolly to their Congressional representatives about
to speak in support. Both noted that oysters the importance of protecting and restoring
are a keystone species and an effective natu- clean water in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
ral filter for pollution. The two representa-
tives have individually sponsored other Bay- Led by a steering committee that includes
friendly bills. Connolly’s Chesapeake Bay Doug Siglin, CBF Federal Affairs Director, the
Restoration Act would set a runoff standard new coalition is supported by the Keith
for all new “greenfield” projects on undevel- Campbell Foundation for the Environment,
oped land. Wittman’s Chesapeake Bay Town Creek Foundation, Prince Charitable
Accountability and Recovery Act would Trust, Summit Fund of D.C., and the
ensure that federal agencies use science- Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds.
based strategies when determining restora-
tion projects and goals. For more information on how CBF is working
Federal agencies are devising a coordinated at the federal level to protect and restore the Bay
strategy for the Bay in response to Two other new Virginia representatives, Tom and its tributaries, visit cbf.org/DC or call
President Obama’s Executive Order. Perriello (VA-5) and Glenn Nye (VA-2), 202/544-2232.
18 Fall 2009 cbf.org
Power Plant Would Aggravate A proposed coal-fired power farmers on “Farmers to the Bay” trips to
Pollution; CBF Calls for EPA Action CBF’s Port Isobel Education Center and
plant would further degrade Tangier Island.
CBF is fighting a new coal-fired power plant regional air and water and
proposed for Surry County, because the pose human health risks. The Shenandoah effort is among 12 environ-
plant would worsen pollution in the James mental projects in Virginia and Washington,
River and the Chesapeake Bay. D.C., receiving a total of $6.1 million from
the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
According to figures released by the owner, Federal Funds Targeted to Improve and the Chesapeake Bay Program to reduce
Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC), Streams in Shenandoah pollution to local streams, rivers, and the
the plant in Dendron would add 1.9 million Chesapeake Bay.
more pounds of nitrogen pollution and 118 CBF has joined a Shenandoah Valley effort to
more pounds of mercury pollution to the air ensure that federal funding for agricultural
above the Bay. conservation practices helps to reduce as CBF Backs New Runoff Rules
much polluted runoff as possible.
“This pollution will only worsen the well- CBF strongly supports new Virginia regula-
documented nitrogen and mercury prob- The Shenandoah Valley Clean Streams tions that, if approved, will greatly lower the
lems already plaguing the Bay,” said CBF Initiative targets high-density animal produc- amount of polluted runoff fouling state
Virginia Deputy Director Joe Tannery. “The tion farms in the Smith Creek watershed, streams, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay.
plant will also emit huge quantities of green- with the goal of reducing pollution suffi- ISTOCK
house gases that will exacerbate climate ciently to remove Smith Creek from EPA’s
change, already a growing threat to our impaired waters list.
CBF is a founding member of the Virginia
CBF is calling upon the U.S. Environmental Waste Solutions Forum coalition, which is
Protection Agency (EPA) to become directly partnering with the Virginia Department of
involved in federal environmental impact Conservation and Recreation on the proj-
studies for the plant and for the U.S. Army ect. CBF’s role will be to work one-on-one
Corps of Engineers to hold additional public with farmers in the target area to imple-
hearings in heavily populated Hampton ment conservation practices that protect
Roads, where plant impacts would be felt by streams, as well as to host participating
the greatest number of people.
“EPA and DEQ (Virginia Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-1)
Department of Environmental
joined Clean the Bay Day volunteers
Isabel Dreyer, age two, and father Arram
Quality) can neither legally Dreyer, standing, at Huntington Beach in
authorize nor justify the dis- Newport News. CBF’s June 6 clean-up
charge of additional nitrogen event drew more than 7,000 Virginia Across the Bay region, pollution from stormwater
and mercury pollution in an residents to shorelines and local water- runoff has increased in recent years. Proposed
ecosystem that’s already ways, where they pitched in to remove rules would reduce nitrogen, phosphorus, and
impaired,” Tannery stated. more than 100 tons of trash. sediment flowing from new developments and
farmland across the state.
CBF is urging ODEC to pur-
sue less environmentally dam- The new controls on stormwater and farm
aging alternatives, pointing runoff are designed to help reduce the
out that the 2007 Virginia amount and impact of runoff from new
Energy Plan concluded that development sites across the state and from
energy efficiency and conser- poultry waste applied as fertilizer on farm
ANDREA MORAN/CBF STAFF
vation measures are the quick- fields. The state is expected to act on the
est, most cost-effective ways to proposed rules this fall.
meet Virginia’s future energy
needs. For more information on how CBF is working
to protect Virginia waters, visit cbf.org/Virginia
Learn more at cbf.org/surry. or call 804/780-1392.
Mounting Evidence Shows Human Health Threats
By Tom Pelton
Cyanobacteria blooms, above, release toxins that have been associated with vomiting, skin rashes, fevers, and disease.
Among the Threats:
J oe Stover fell in love with water in his youth,
while guiding a canoe down cascading
rapids on the Shenandoah River.
human health. Harmful algal blooms, mer-
cury contamination, and nitrates in drink-
ing water are also examples of how water Vibrio: The combination of warmer waters,
pollution can harm not only fish and oys- pollution, and other factors in the Chesa-
But his lifelong association of water to good ters, but the Chesapeake’s people as well. peake Bay is contributing to the growth of a
health ended in June 2008. That was when bacterium called Vibrio that can cause life-
the recreational boater from Newport News, The evidence of these health threats—and threatening skin and blood infections and
Virginia, spent 10 days in a hospital because case studies about Joe Stover, Bernie Voith, intestinal illnesses, according to Dr. Rita
of a terrifying bacterial infection from a and others—are revealed in a new Chesa- Colwell, former Director of the National
waterborne pathogen called Vibrio. His peake Bay Foundation report, Bad Water Science Foundation and currently Distin-
hand swelled to the size of a catcher’s mitt. 2009: The Impact on Human Health in the guished University Professor at the University
Chesapeake Bay Region. At a time when the of Maryland, College Park, and the Johns
Bernie Voith, a retired printer, enjoyed Obama administration is reviewing new Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
swimming nearly every night behind his options to clean up the Bay, the report Although infrequent, the number of annual
home on a tributary to the Severn River in makes the case that strong federal action is Vibrio infections reported in Virginia has more
Anne Arundel County, Maryland. But in July urgently needed because the health of our than doubled over the last decade, from 12 in
2005 he was nearly killed by a blood infec- citizens could be at stake. 1999 to 30 in 2008, and reported cases have
tion that his doctor believes was caused by RITA COLWELL Vibrio also risen in Maryland.
fecal bacteria in the river seeping into an
open cut on his leg. Cyanobacteria: Nitrogen and phosphorus
pollution and warmer weather also stimu-
What do these men have in common? They late the growth of harmful algal blooms.
are both witnesses to the fact that pollution Blue green algae, also known as cyanobacte-
and warming temperatures in the ria, can cause liver disease, skin rashes, nau-
Chesapeake Bay are contributing to the sea, and vomiting. Dr. Peter Tango,
growth of bacteria that can pose risks to Chesapeake Watershed Coordinator for the
20 Fall 2009 cbf.org
Victims of Bacteria in the Bay
U.S. Geological Survey, recently co-authored
In June of 2008, Joe Stover was a report that called harmful algal blooms a
putting his boat on a trailer at “significant and expanding threat to aquatic
Denbigh Park Boat Ramp on the life, human health, and regional economies.”
Warwick River, Virginia, when he
suffered a small cut to his right Cryptosporidium: A study by Dr. Thaddeus
thumb. Thirty-six hours later, his Graczyk of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg
hand had “swollen up to the size School of Public Health found the protozoan
of a catcher’s mitt,” he recalled. Cryptosporidium (a pathogen that local health
“It had me quite worried… departments do not test for) at levels that
because the hand had swollen so could cause diarrhea or more serious illness
grotesquely.” in 70 percent of weekend samples at a
Baltimore County beach.
Doctors determined that Stover
was suffering from a Vibrio infec- Mercury: This heavy metal, released into the
tion, which can cause life-threat- environment by the burning of coal and
ening illnesses. He spent 10 days from other sources, pollutes waterways,
in the hospital and underwent sur- taints fish, and can potentially damage intel-
gery as a result of his encounter ligence. In the Chesapeake region, govern-
with the bacteria. ments have issued statewide fish consump-
tion advisories for mercury for all lakes and
“It really brought to my attention rivers in Pennsylvania and Maryland, many
how important it is that we pay rivers in Virginia, and an advisory for all
attention to our water, and how rockfish in the Maryland portion of the
dirty our water is,” said Stover of Chesapeake Bay. A study by Virginia
his terrifying illness. Commonwealth University found that 38
percent of survey participants were eating
fish with mercury at doses that exceeded the
Joe Stover warning level set by the federal government.
TOM PELTON/CBF STAFF
Nitrates: Polluted runoff not only causes low
Retired printer Bernie Voith still
oxygen “dead zones” in the Chesapeake Bay,
bears the scar from a bacterial
but also can hurt the health of rural families.
infection that he contracted from
Between 21 and 60 percent of private wells
swimming in the Severn River,
tested in parts of Pennsylvania’s lower
near Annapolis, Maryland, on
Susquehanna River Basin in recent surveys
Fourth of July weekend, 2005.
had nitrate levels exceeding public drinking
water standards. Drinking water with too
He had scraped his leg against a
much nitrate can potentially raise the risk of
plastic chair before entering the
cancer, nervous system deformities in
water with his grandson. Twelve
infants, hemorrhaging of the spleen, and
hours later, he woke with a sear-
ing pain in his calf and a high
fever. An ambulance took him to
To reduce these kinds of risks to human
the hospital, and he spent the
health, the CBF report calls on the U.S.
next four months in and out of
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to
treatment for a bacterial blood
create a strong and enforceable cap on pollu-
infection and a leg wound that
tion entering the Bay. Among other steps,
would not heal.
EPA should also deny permits for sewage
plants, construction projects, and other
Water-quality data from the Severn
sources that would discharge additional
River on the day Voith got sick
nitrogen and mercury pollution.
showed that the fecal bacteria
count near his beach was 10
Chesapeake citizens like Joe Stover, Bernie
times the level that the U.S.
Voith, and you deserve no less.
Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) considers safe for swimming.
Read Bad Water 2009: The Impact on
Bernie Voith Human Health in the Chesapeake Bay
PHOTO COURTESY BERNIE VOITH
Region online at cbf.org/badwater.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, CBF’s second
annual Members Photo Contest spoke volumes.
Talented photographers across the region submitted
more than 400 entries evoking the beauty and boun-
ty of the Bay, its tributaries, and surrounding lands.
These top prize winners and nine additional images
from the contest will be featured in CBF’s 2010
From the top:
Viewers’ Choice Award photo by CBF member Robert Quinn.
A slice of land divides sky and water near Pickering Creek’s Audubon
boathouse, located off the Wye River near Easton, Maryland.
First-place photo by CBF member Robert Quinn.
Beyond the boom of CBF’s historic skipjack, the Stanley Norman, Thomas
Point Lighthouse sparkles on a summer morning near Annapolis, Maryland.
Second-place photo by CBF member Denny Motsko.
A well-worn skiff noses the grasses of the Rappahannock River
in Topping, Virginia.
Third-place photo by CBF member Eugene Huskey.
In Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, the translucent waters of
Dark Hollow Falls begin their descent to the Bay.
The 2010 CBF
is available for pur-
chase online. Visit
22 Fall 2009 cbf.org
Strength in Numbers A squith
Asquith Creek Creek
Scaled-Up Reefs Aid Oyster Comeback Weems Creek
By Carol Denny Oyster restoration
Recent CBF projects Chesapeake
aryland’s Severn River, famous as the that appears to have achieved the scale need- Severn River
M site of the U.S. Naval Academy and
the historic state capital, is now attracting
ed for success. Three years in a row of strong
spatsets (oyster reproduction) suggest the
LUCIDITY INFORMATION DESIGN , LLC
0 1 Mile
attention for a different reason: as a focal reefs are contributing to their own sustain- Reefs planted by CBF and other groups are adding
point for oyster restoration. ability, in addition to providing habitat for to the critical mass of oysters in the Severn River.
aquatic life and filtering the river’s waters.
CBF’s, Maryland oyster restoration vessel,
the Patricia Campbell, planted 10 million The success to date in the Great Wicomico
oysters on four acres of river bottom in early echoes earlier work in Virginia’s Lynnhaven
August—the most this boat and crew have River near the Bay’s mouth, which may
ever planted at one time. The project, one of have been the first example of an ecosys-
dozens underway across the Bay by cooper- tem “response” in the form of widespread
ating agencies and organizations, was in oyster reproduction. For several years
many ways representative of the new direc- beginning in 1997, the Virginia Marine
tion of oyster restoration for the Chesapeake. Resources Commission (VMRC) built
“shellpile” reefs in the river, and CBF and
“Scale is key,” said CBF Senior Fisheries Lynnhaven Now populated the reefs with
Scientist Bill Goldsborough, “and it’s going oysters grown by local citizens. The first
to take the collaboration of multiple part- system-wide spatset in many decades
ners, state, federal, and private, to scale up occurred in the river shortly thereafter.
oyster restoration enough to affect the
ecosystem, whether it’s an individual river The Piankatank River is shaping up to be the The Patricia Campbell, CBF’s oyster restoration
or the whole Bay.” next focal area for oyster restoration in vessel, recently planted more than 10 million
Virginia. For three years, CBF and The young oysters in the Severn River.
Partners who played a role in restoring the Nature Conservancy (TNC) have been
four-acre reef in the Severn include the rebuilding and planting VMRC sanctuary
Department of Natural Resources, the reefs in the river with support from the
Oyster Recovery Partnership, the Maryland National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admin-
Watermen’s Association, and the University istration. Now, the Corps is planning to apply
of Maryland Center for Environmental its considerable resources there as well.
Science. This fall, the Army Corps of Engi-
TOM ZOLPER/CBF STAFF
neers’ Baltimore District plans to bring in “We think a similar approach—a collabora-
barge loads of reef material to an adjoining tive effort to scale up reef-building—will
site and three others nearby, for a total of 30 bring real progress in the Piankatank in the
more acres of reefs. next few years,” said Mark Bryer, TNC’s
Chesapeake Program Director.
Stephan Abel, Executive Director of the On deck, millions of seed oysters attached to tons
Oyster Recovery Partnership, a non-profit Back on the Severn, divers have seen the eco- of oyster shell await delivery to the new reef.
that conducts oyster restoration efforts logical benefits that even the small-scale reefs
across the state, is enthusiastic about the built over the last dozen years in the river “Nature is the best guide. The Bay was once
Severn’s potential. “The Severn is one of the have created—vibrant underwater habitats lined with three-dimensional reefs that were
first rivers to really maximize resources in a for fish, mussels, and barnacles where none an integral part of the ecosystem. Recreating
concentrated area,” he says. “The model existed before. The Severn’s underwater the size and shape and pattern of reefs as
being applied here could have a dramatic topography—hills and valleys instead of a Nature built them over millennia is the chal-
impact going forward.” flat bottom—has also helped to create lenge of oyster restoration, and while that
higher, three-dimensional reefs. Scientists will take many years, it appears we are final-
Meanwhile, in Virginia, the same principles involved in oyster restoration on Virginia’s ly on the right track,” said Goldsborough.
are being applied. The Corps’ Norfolk Great Wicomico reported that taller reefs,
District constructed a network of reefs total- which keep the oysters higher in the water Learn more about oyster restoration at
ing 89 acres in the Great Wicomico River column, help oyster growth and survival. cbf.org/oysters.
JACK EGGLESTON, U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY
Got Hooked in Her
As a youngster, Nancy Stoner experienced the effects of pollution on the Shenandoah Valley’s South
By Tom Pelton River. Now she and others are working on a plan to limit overloads of nitrogen and phosphorus.
N ancy Stoner grew up with water in the leadership of EPA to make the Chesapeake
TOM PELTON/CBF STAFF
backyard of her home in Waynesboro, Bay a national model for innovative
Virginia, a small town nestled in the approaches to cleaning up waterways.
Shenandoah Valley. She loved floating down
the South River on an inner tube, trailing a “What’s different about the Bay is the
fishing line behind her. amount of information that we have,”
Stoner said. “We have more detailed, accu-
But she knew she shouldn’t eat the fish that rate monitoring information about the
she caught. They were contaminated with sources of pollution and what needs to be
mercury from a nearby industrial plant. done in the Bay than almost anywhere.” NRDC’s Nancy Stoner
As a child, Stoner thought this kind of pol- Stoner and others are working to create a she’s an ideal person to be working on this
lution was just the way the world was and precedent-setting, enforcable pollution new tactic.
that nobody could do anything about it. limit system for the Chesapeake watershed
After graduating from Yale Law School, that, if successful, could be replicated “She knows the legislative, regulatory, and
however, she started working as an attor- across the nation. Federal and state envi- litigation environment better than any other
ney in water pollution enforcement for the ronmental agencies would set a maximum Clean Water Act attorney in Washington,
U.S. Justice Department, where she learned amount of nitrogen and phosphorus pollu- D.C.,” said Chuck Fox, the EPA Adminis-
the strength of the federal Clean Water Act. tion allowed from jurisdictions. Sewage trator’s top advisor for Chesapeake Bay
treatment plants, livestock feeding opera- restoration. “She has immense respect
“I didn’t know I was going to be in environ- tions, or other businesses would either among decision makers, and her real source
mental work. I was interested in the subject have to make the reductions needed to of power is her knowledge.”
initially as a social cause, as a way of improv-
ing people’s lives,” Stoner reflected. “I’m
looking at ways people can have their lives
I’m looking at ways people can have their
lives enhanced through our natural resources.
enhanced through our natural resources.”
—NANCY STONER, NRDC
Stoner worked as Director of the Office of
Policy and Planning at the U.S. meet the limit themselves, or pay for pollu- Stoner’s skill may come from her mastery of
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tion reduction projects, such as planting law, but her motivation traces back to her
from 1996 to 1999. And over the last trees along streams on farms to filter runoff childhood fondness for fishing—and her
decade, she’s been at the Natural Resources before it contaminates the water. desire to expand employment opportunities
Defense Council (NRDC), where she’s now for people in industries dependent on clean
Co-Director of the advocacy group’s clean This pollution limit concept has already water, such as fishing, recreation, and tourism.
water program. One of her top goals today, been tried on a small scale, but Stoner envi-
working with allies at the Chesapeake Bay sions a broader system that would reward “I think this is a very good opportunity
Foundation (CBF), is to seize the opportu- clean businesses and reduce the overall cost right now, with a very favorable executive
nity of the Obama administration’s new of cleanup. Those who know Stoner say branch, to clean up the Bay,” Stoner said.
24 Fall 2009 cbf.org
Water Data on the Web
by Carol Denny
Students gather data on water quality in the field, then upload it to the FieldScope website to share with scientists and peers.
“H elping students to become critical
thinkers is the ‘Holy Grail’ of public edu-
cation,” says Tom Ackerman, CBF’s Director of
mospheric Administration (NOAA), and
the FieldScope project (cbf.org/FieldScope)
Teacher Education & Student Leadership.
“And helping students understand and take The appeal to educators was clear. “We
action to improve water quality is the goal
need our students engaging in real sci-
of CBF’s Education program.”
ence,” says John Quinn, Coordinator of
These two goals have coalesced in a new Secondary Science for Howard County
project now being piloted by CBF and the Public School System, one of the first
National Geographic Society (NGS). The groups invited to join the FieldScope proj-
initiative, the National Geographic ect. “The kind of learning that happens
Chesapeake Bay FieldScope project, com- when students apply the scientific process
bines two contemporary tools—GIS
to real-world environmental problems is
(Global Information Systems) and the
Internet—to give students a vital, real-time far more powerful than having them per-
connection to water in their region. form ‘canned’ science projects.” The site’s interactive map has multiple functions.
FieldScope extends the impact of CBF’s Using FieldScope, teachers and students Meanwhile, users beyond the education
award-winning field education experiences can view real-time data about water quali- community are recognizing the potential of
by making water-quality research the focus ty around the Chesapeake region by FieldScope to expand available informa-
of the project. “The truly innovative part is searching information posted by NOAA, as tion on the Bay. The Alliance for the
that students can measure water quality well as other student groups. With land Chesapeake Bay, for example, has already
right in their own area, then post their use data added by National Geographic, uploaded its data.
information to the website,” says students can make inferences and draw
Ackerman. “They share it with other stu- conclusions about the causes of poor water “We’ve always given students data and
dents and compare it to existing profes- quality. asked them to draw conclusions,” says
sional data.” Linda Peterson, Middle School Science
“Any student who can use Mapquest or Specialist for Fairfax County Public Schools.
National Geographic, a long-time partner Google Maps can access the powerful tools “FieldScope gives students real data in real
and supporter of CBF’s Chesapeake incorporated in FieldScope,” Ackerman time that they’re part of creating. They share
Classrooms program, approached CBF in notes, demonstrating on his computer. that data with a real audience. That’s doing
2007 to brainstorm the possibilities of With the click of a mouse, he shows how real science, and we know the best way to
combining GIS tools and the web to users can map and measure the flow path learn science is by doing it.”
engage students in learning about their of water from their home to the Bay. With
world. “We immediately recognized the another click, he creates a map of a specif- The National Geographic Chesapeake Bay
potential to fill a great need of our school- ic watershed. He explains that students can FieldScope project will be available to middle
system partners,” Ackerman explains. NGS easily graph their own data against infor- and high school teachers this fall. For more
and CBF reached out to a third founding mation provided by other student groups information, contact email@example.com or visit
partner, National Oceanographic and At- or a nearby NOAA buoy. cbf.org/FieldScope.
Our Giving Community
A Living Legacy
T his spring, CBF was proud to honor a young
person whose short life seems to have
inspired everyone he touched to love his Bay.
Kennedy M. Fitzgerald, 20, died in a fire in
2007 at the family home near Easton, Mary-
land, along with his sister, Maggie, and girl-
friend, Christine Maier. After the tragedy, the
family requested that donations in Kennedy’s
name be made to CBF. The outpouring of
memorial gifts was used to create a new living
shoreline at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Mu-
seum that will provide a habitat for wildlife.
Supported by additional funding from the
Chesapeake Bay Trust and the National Fish
MARGARET ENLOE/CBF STAFF
and Wildlife Service, it was constructed by Ken-
nedy’s former employer, Environmental Con-
cern. In April, the shoreline was dedicated to
Kennedy and Maggie, and in June, it came to life
as CBF helped organize a restoration planting
with Fitzgerald friends, family, and volunteers.
For more on Kennedy Fitzgerald’s life and In June, relatives and friends of Kennedy Fitzgerald joined his parents, Peg and Matthew Fitzgerald
photos of the June event, visit cbf.org/fitzgerald. (above center), and CBF President Will Baker (in red) to plant a living shoreline in his honor.
Boat Donation for Hampton Roads
I t used to be known as Tidewater, a favorite
retreat for Virginia families. These days, the
Furthermore, the Hermans recognized that
the Hampton Roads office had limited
ANDREA MORAN/CBF STAFF
area goes by Hampton Roads, and its popu- resources, as the CBF boat they travelled on
lation makes up 10 percent of the Chesa- had come from outside the area. They felt
peake Bay watershed—about 1.8 million that the Hampton Roads program needed a
residents. Businesses, military families, and suitable vessel of its own to engage the
those who love the water flock to the region, community in projects to improve the CBF’s Bay Oyster
not to vacation but to settle down. region’s water quality and to advance CBF
programs. The vessel could not have come at a better
Hampton Roads natives Steve and Sally time. Currently, CBF staff in Hampton
Herman, who have lived in the Washington In November 2008, the Hermans helped Roads oversees advocacy initiatives, volun-
area for the last 40 years, have watched their CBF purchase a 21-foot Carolina skiff. Bay teer efforts, oyster restoration, and a thriving
hometown grow, returning most summers Oyster now travels the Elizabeth, Lynnhaven, education program. Each program benefits
to visit. They both have fond childhood James, Nansemond, York, and other rivers in from improved access to waterways, aiding
memories of oystering and crabbing on local a variety of capacities. Staff regularly use Bay the fight for clean water.
waterways. During a boat trip last summer Oyster to plant oysters raised through the
with friends, the Hermans explored CBF’s volunteer oyster gardening program, test “Growing up in Norfolk, my parents taught
oyster restoration successes on the Lynn- water quality, monitor shoreline restora- us to respect the surrounding waterways,”
haven River. “We realized that rebuilding tions, and act as a watchdog on the rivers. explains Sally. “My father in particular loved
native oyster stock is critical to helping Bay Oyster is also available to give interested gathering and eating Lynnhaven oysters.
return the Bay to its previously pristine con- media, members, and advocates a chance to He’d be thrilled to know we were working
dition,” recalled Sally Herman. experience these waterways first-hand. with CBF to bring oysters back.”
26 Fall 2009 cbf.org
Our Giving Community
Making a Difference: Gerry Lenfest
By William C. Baker, President, Chesapeake Bay Foundation
“F ill in the hole,” he told his
architect. Gerry Lenfest
had been working on plans
Gerry Lenfest’s support of strategic liti-
gation by CBF has enabled the organiza-
for his dream house for tion to fight for the Bay’s health in court
months. But looking at the when other options have failed. Here is
size of the excavation, he real- a sampling of more than 25 state and
ized just how big the house federal actions undertaken since 2004:
would be. He decided on the
spot that he and his wife Federal
Marguerite simply did not • EPA: Mercury rule violating the Clean
need it. The home they had Air Act
lived in for many decades • Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Plant:
would serve them just as well Discharge permit issued without a legally
in the years ahead. required compliance schedule
• Sparrows Point: Notice of intent to sue
So to the architect’s dismay, under Clean Water Act and Resource
the project was shut down. Conservation and Recovery Act
The breathtaking views, the • King William Reservoir: Permit to destroy
rolling hills, the extraordinary wetlands and build a reservoir
wildlife habitat would remain CBF STAFF • EPA: Failure to meet terms of the
untouched in perpetuity,
Gerry Lenfest Chesapeake 2000 agreement and
thanks to a conservation easement. Nothing mental decisions—a decision that led corpo- enforce Clean Water Act
says more in my mind about Gerry Lenfest rate giant Philip Morris to reduce its pollu-
than that simple decision, “Fill in the hole.” tion discharge to the James River. We have
successfully argued for the protection of land • Blackwater: Growth allocations for
For 20 years, Gerry has been a friend, a surrounding Maryland’s Blackwater National development in Critical Area
donor, a trustee, and a valued advisor to CBF. Wildlife Refuge, halting a developer’s pro- • Little Island: Island home built without
While his 2000 endowment gift for environ- posal to build on more than 1,000 acres of required permits and variances
mental education will continue to provide forest and farmland. We have successfully • Wilson: Individual seeks to build private
untold benefits for the Bay, Gerry’s more opposed construction of Virginia’s King wastewater treatment plant
recent support and personal investment in William Reservoir, preventing the single Virginia
CBF’s litigation work is equally valuable. largest permitted loss of wetlands in the mid-
• Philip Morris USA: Increase to permitted
Atlantic region in the history of the Clean
discharges; water permit
In 2004, Gerry was a member of a small CBF Water Act. We have intervened in a consoli-
• Onancock: Increase to permitted
task force charged with investigating the dated administrative case in Pennsylvania to
discharges; water permit
potential for CBF to use litigation even more keep stricter limits on sewage treatment
strategically than we had in the past. After six plant discharges. Most recently, we have
• Merck: Increase to permitted discharges
months of study, the group reported its rec- brought suit against EPA, demanding that it • King William Reservoir: Permit to destroy
ommendation to CBF’s full Board, and a deci- enforce the federal Clean Water Act.
wetlands and build a reservoir
sion was made to launch a dedicated litiga- West Virginia
tion project. Gerry put up $1.25 million, one- None of this would have been possible with-
• Martinsburg: Water permit challenges
half of the cost of the project for five years, out Gerry Lenfest. His personal and finan-
and he challenged others to invest with him. cial commitment has yielded enormous div- Pennsylvania
idends for our organization and for the • Marcellus Shale: Erosion and sediment
Today, five years later, CBF has handled more future health of the Bay and its rivers. control permit challenges
than 25 cases. We have won significant vic- • Other water permit challenges
tories, including a unanimous decision by Gerry, your decisiveness, leadership, and gen-
the Virginia Supreme Court that affirmed the erosity have been critical to CBF’s success. We Learn more at cbf.org/litigation.
right of citizen groups to challenge environ- admire you. We thank you. We salute you.
Events Around the Watershed
October 13-16: The 20th annual Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner October 17: Composting Workshop, Humphrey Calder Community
Race. More than 50 boats compete on a course from Fells Point, Garden, Richmond, 10AM-Noon. Learn the basics of creating a healthy
Baltimore, to Portsmouth, Virginia. Proceeds benefit CBF’s education compost pile for your organic garden. Reservations: 804/780-1392 or
programs. Register at 757/480-4402 or visit www.schoonerrace.org. firstname.lastname@example.org
October 17: Tree Planting, Little Blackwater River, Cambridge, Coming this fall: Blue Planet Forum:
9AM-1PM. Join CBF and Maryland’s Department of Natural Exploring the Bay and Beyond, Nautilus,
Resources for a fall planting near Blackwater National Wildlife Norfolk. CBF’s ongoing environmental lecture
Refuge. Register: 410/543-1999, ext 500 or HOTCinfo@cbf.org. series features leaders, scientists, and policy
makers. For dates and speakers, go to
October 25: South River Greenway Reforestation Project, cbf.org/hamptonroads or call 757/622-1964.
Crownsville, 10AM-2PM. Help plant 1,200 trees to restore the MARCY DAMON/CBF STAFF
headwaters of the South River. Register: 443/482-2156 or
MDrestoration@cbf.org. West Virginia
October 17: Stream Buffer Planing,
November 14: Stream Buffer Planting and In-Stream Opequon Creek, Kearneysville (near Shep-
Restoration, Little Catoctin Creek watershed (Frederick County), herdstown), 9AM-1PM. Help plant 1,000
Myersville, 9AM-1PM. Help plant 700 native trees and shrubs to native trees and shrubs. Register: 443/482-
complete the final phase of a stream restoration project. CBF planting events help the 2156 or MDrestoration@cbf.org.
Register: 443/482-2156 or MDrestoration@cbf.org. Bay by keeping polluted
runoff out of streams. For more information, visit cbf.org/events.
She’s a Winner Volunteer of the Year
In Rockingham County, Virginia, Turner Ashby High School student
PHOTO COURTESY OF ELAINE MITCHELL
Chris Reedy spent nine months raising his calf, “BB,” in a student agri-
cultural program that CBF helps to support. His TLC paid off: At the
Rockingham County Fair in August, BB took first in her class and was also
named Reserve Champion (second place) Commercial Heifer.
Hundreds of fair visitors admired BB and learned how quality animals
can be raised on clean water farms—a focus of CBF’s work in the
Shenandoah Valley. Proceeds from the sale of the calf will
fund another FFA student project next year.
Connect with CBF Online “Amazingly dedicated” is how CBF oyster
Visit cbf.org/social to learn more. restoration staffers describe Elaine Mitchell,
who has been named CBF’s 2009 Volunteer
of the Year. Elaine coordinates the Maryland
oyster gardening program, which helps hun-
dreds of volunteers adopt and raise baby oys-
What’s a TMDL? ters for future plantings on sanctuary reefs.
A TMDL (Total Daily Maximum Load) is a “I’m not sure we’d be running a program
plan that calculates the maximum amount without her,” says Stephanie Reynolds, CBF
of pollutants an impaired body of water Oyster Restoration Scientist.
can receive and still meet water quality stan-
dards. It sets a pollution “budget” for a region “CBF is always so appreciative of volunteers
LIBBY NORRIS/CBF STAFF
with allowances for specific areas, which are then that it makes it easy to be one,” said Elaine.
used to guide pollution-reduction actions on the “I’m honored to be singled out in this way.”
ground. Sewage treatment plants, urban and subur- She was presented with the award at Bay
ban stormwater, and agricultural runoff are some of Fest ceremonies at the Philip Merrill Center
the sources regulated by a TMDL. on September 13.
28 Fall 2009 cbf.org
PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER CASSOU
MARCY DAMON / CBF STAFF
If your landscaping is ready for an
update, think outside the boxwood: Use
true native plants. You’ll be adding to the
natural diversity of your area and preserv-
ing the genetic heritage of local species.
Local wildlife will benefit, too—many of
our birds and insects (the zebra swallow-
tail butterfly, for example) require native
plant communities to survive.
For a low-lying wet area in your yard,
choose species that like “wet feet,” such Thanks to a gift from two anonymous of the Bay, explain the watershed and its
as sweet bay magnolia, sweet pepper donors, the Chesapeake Bay-Bridge Tunnel problems, and encourage millions of trav-
bush, and New York ironweed. If you (CBBT) has a new pair of Save the Bay signs. elers to learn more about CBF. A cut-out in
have a sunny hot location, try loblolly Located near the gift shop and fishing pier the crab at the bottom of one of the signs
pines, bayberries, switch grass, and on the CBBT’s southernmost island and at provides a fun photo op. CBF Art Director
native goldenrods. the scenic overlook on the Eastern Shore Jennifer Cassou, who designed the signs,
side, the signs welcome visitors to the mouth demonstrates the possibilities.
More and more nurseries are beginning to
carry native species, and others specialize
JILL BEVIER/CBF STAFF
in propagating regional native varieties.
Consult cbf.org/landscaping for a compre-
hensive list of local sources for native plants,
as well as a wealth of information on Bay-
friendly lawn and garden ideas.
Interns to Bay, Stat!
This summer, CBF welcomed 25 student interns to the Philip Merrill Environmental Center for
internships in the Administration, Communications, Education, Environmental Protection and
Restoration, and Litigation departments. Back Row: Lauren Gleason, Annie McCarthy, Bryan
Hills, Buck Denton, Andrew Bliss, Steve Matzura, Mary Howard, Julia Sooy, Christine Wysocki.
Front Row: Alex Crooks, Hannah Debelius, Katie Thompson, Erin Leon, Megan Mueller. Not
DEADLINE: pictured: Gabrielle Collins, Caileigh Feldman, Jessica White, James (Jimmy) Beaver, Lauren
October 30, 2009 Crocker, Kelsey Brunton, Katie Branch, Kris McKinnon, Sydney Catoire, Galen Canham, and
Adam Coleman. Students interested in applying for 2010 internships can call 410/268-
8816 or e-mail email@example.com.
TOM PELTON/CBF STAFF
A Chorus of Faith and Hope
Baskets of crabs surround the women of the Smith Island Crabmeat Co-Op, who share songs, laughter, and prayer as they work.
By Tom Pelton After restrictions on the crab harvest last year, a survey showed the crab population had risen 43 percent.
I woke up in the Chesapeake Bay island
village of Tylerton one morning this summer
and heard nothing but the rustling of marsh
singing this hymn since the English landed
here in 1638. But the tradition of women
coming together every evening at 5 p.m. to
Some might see Tylerton as dying. The
town’s population of full-time residents has
declined from 157 in 1980 to 58 today, and
grass outside my bedroom window. pick and sing started only 14 years ago, in rising sea levels are slowly nibbling away at
response to—of all things—a government the island.
The quietness of the town on Smith Island is sting operation.
what overwhelms first-time visitors. Despite all this, the singers see hope
There are no cars, no real streets, no all around them. After years of
police sirens, no fast-food joints—no Some might see Tylerton decline, the population of blue crabs
chain businesses of any kind in this as dying, but the singers in the Chesapeake Bay rose by an
more than three-hundred-year-old estimated 43 percent this year com-
see hope all around them.
fishing community. There is only one
general store, one church, a post
office the size of a garden shed, a dozen
crabbing boats, and 36 houses, all surround-
ed by expanses of wetlands and water.
Tylerton women had been picking crabs
alone in their homes for generations. Then
in 1992, Maryland health officials decided
” pared to last, according to an annual
winter dredge survey. State biologists
say the resurgence of crabs has been fueled
by new limits on harvesting females. The
singers don’t see things that way. They see in
to crack down and seize their crab meat at the fertility of the crabs a higher power look-
Step off the docks and into a low-slung the docks because each picker didn’t have ing out for the survival of their tiny island
building and the silence ends. Six women an individual business license. and their way of life.
sit at a steel table in the Smith Island
Crabmeat Co-Op, singing hymns as they That bureaucratic storm could have sunk They sing, above the clatter of knives, that
pick the meat from blue crabs caught by them. But the women banded together and they will hold on: “Till the storm passes
their husbands and sons. “’Mid the crash of fought back. With state and federal assis- over, till the thunder sounds no more…
the thunder, precious Lord, hear my cry. tance, they built their own crab processing Hold me fast, let me stand, in the hollow
Keep me safe, till the storm passes by.” facility—fully licensed and inspected—and of thy hand. Keep me safe, till the storm
made it into a successful business. They passes by.”
Bushels of steamed blues surround them. sell tubs of crab meat with their Co-Op
Knives dance in their hands. The splitting logo to markets on the mainland. And their
and cracking of shells provides a syncopat- singing and picking also provide a daily rit- To listen to songs from the Smith
ed beat for their songs. ual of friendship for them—a comedy club, Island Crabmeat Co-Op, visit Tom
informal marriage counseling, and a prayer Pelton’s blog at cbf.org/crabchorus.
The sound of their chorus is timeless. It is session that reinforces their rock-like faith Tom Pelton is Senior Writer for the
tempting to imagine pickers on this island that the Chesapeake Bay will sustain them.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
30 Fall 2009 cbf.org
Join The Biggest Fight
For Clean Water This
Nation Has Ever Seen!
Clean water is not a privilege,
but a right worth fighting for.
Our treasured resource, the Chesapeake Bay and its
rivers and streams, can be restored to health. Its waters
can once again be fishable, swimmable, and teeming with
life. It can be done in our lifetime, but not unless the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) follows
through on its promise to step into a greater leadership
position. In addition, Congress must increase and codify
Your generous gift will enable CBF to lobby and litigate,
educate and communicate, and vigorously restore fisheries
and critical habitat throughout the Bay and its rivers and
Please mail your special contribution
today using the enclosed envelope, or
donate online at cbf.org/give2009.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation Southern, MD
Philip Merrill Environmental Center Permit No. 305
6 Herndon Avenue, Annapolis, MD 21403
On the cover: The waters of Virginia’s Thornton River rush through an autumn forest in the Blue Ridge Mountains on their way to the Bay.
Photo by Bill Portlock
A Saved Bay is
Worth the Fight
We won’t stop until the job is done.