Still not serious about bay clean-up

May 07, 2011

While we've made progress on plans to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland still needs to get serious about reducing pollution from farm runoff ("Scientists criticize tracking of Chesapeake Bay cleanup," May 5).

Manure runoff is a major pollutant, and our current system allows too much phosphorus-rich manure to be applied to farmlands. If soil becomes saturated with phosphorus, a bay-killing pollutant, and then still more manure is applied, it becomes easier for the phosphorus to get into nearby waterways, leading to algae blooms that choke the bay of life.

A recent report by the National Research Council stated that measures such as planting cover crops are not enough to reach the pollution reduction levels we need to achieve.

This is a major opportunity for Gov. Martin O'Malley to step up and enforce stronger regulations for manure application. He should prohibit manure application on the most phosphorus saturated soils.

It is clear we need to take serious action against pollution to meet our goals for cleaning up the bay. Finding an innovative solution to the problem of manure runoff would be a good place to start.

Carly Mercer, Baltimore

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