Four state programs aiming to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution flowing to the Back and Patapsco rivers and the Chesapeake Bay will share almost $1.9 million in grant money awarded Friday from a federally funded trust.
The Herring Run Watershed Association will get $450,000 to slow runoff from Baltimore city and county landowners into Herring Run and the Jones Falls. The project will divert rooftop downspouts to lawns and landscaped areas rather than let them contribute to polluted runoff on streets and sidewalks that runs into storm drains - which is expected to prevent 650 pounds of nitrogen, 98 pounds of phosphorus and 11 tons of sediment from reaching local streams.
The Center for Urban Environmental Research and Education received $312,177 to help stop runoff in the same region from compacted soils in parks, school yards, athletic fields, residential lawns and vacant lots in the city and county. The group will employ a type of deep tilling to break up soil, allowing more water to soak in.
Also, the Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts was awarded $345,000 to work with farms to implement trading options to reduce carbon emissions and nutrients, and the University of Maryland and other universities won $786,384 to address dry manure application in seven watersheds, including the Choptank and Nanticoke rivers.
The money comes from the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund, which provides grants to reduce or eliminate the flow of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution into local waterways, and ultimately the bay. The fund is administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and funded by the Environmental Protection Agency's Chesapeake Bay Program. This year, $12.9 million was awarded to 24 projects in Maryland, as well as Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington. Grant recipients matched the funding with an additional $19.4 million.
"These innovative projects will have lasting benefits for the Chesapeake Bay and its network of rivers and streams, especially when you consider that they can be duplicated in communities throughout the entire watershed," said William C. Early, acting regional administrator for the EPA's Mid-Atlantic region.
Tom Kelsch, director of conservation programs for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, added that pollution is a problem for all U.S. waterways. "These projects take seriously the charge every landowner must be watershed stewards if we are going to realize a restored Chesapeake Bay."
The awards were handed out during a ceremony at the Herring Run Watershed Association. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, chairman of the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife, helped secure funding for the program. He said the $12.9 million is the largest amount the program has received. In fiscal 2008, the award was $9.8 million.
"I am committed to ensuring that we have the resources that are needed to move forward with innovative projects that will help restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay watershed," Cardin said. "The Chesapeake Stewardship Grant Program is a model program that allows communities and organizations in our region to develop new, inventive and cost-effective projects that will help us clean up the Bay's watershed."