Water Blog - Blue Water Baltimore’s 2014 Annual Report

News, notes and thoughts from Blue Water Baltimore.



Blue Water Baltimore’s 2014 Annual Report

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This year’s report is dedicated to the diverse people and institutions we work with to accomplish our mission of clean water and strong communities. We truly value all those who engage with us as partners in our shared vision of better water quality and a healthier, more vibrant Baltimore region.

Below, read excerpts from our 2014 Annual Report, on the actions Blue Water Baltimore and our partners take every day to address urgent issues that threaten our waterways.

Building Power Through Coalitions

Working with Environmental Groups on Legislative Advocacy

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Blue Water Baltimore works with partners and decision-makers at the state and local levels, focused on passing or defending strong laws that protect the environment and public health. While we work hard on legislative bills, we do not do so alone. We work closely with other organizations as part of the Clean Water, Healthy Families (CWHF) coalition to maximize the impact of the environmental advocacy community.

In 2014, Blue Water Baltimore helped Clean Water, Healthy Families defeat more than 20 bills aimed at repealing the state’s polluted runoff law.

“Clean Water, Healthy Families is a water-focused coalition advocating for legislation and policy at the state level in Maryland. Blue Water Baltimore is an integral member of CWHF given their prominence and location in Baltimore. The work completed on the ground by Blue Water Baltimore gives the coalition tremendous credibility when discussing polluted runoff with public officials. Organizing and advocacy work done by Blue Water Baltimore was a vital part of recent CWHF victories,” said Clean Water, Healthy Families Leader Brent Bolin.

Corporate Engagement

Investing in the Future of Baltimore Waterways

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Blue Water Baltimore is committed to providing opportunities for employers to meet their social responsibility goals. We support businesses in our community through educational opportunities and experiences that enhance the well being of employees and their families. We are proud to partner with these organizations to facilitate team building and raise awareness of innovative programs that reduce stormwater runoff.

In 2014, more than 50 organizations volunteered with us to help reduce pollution in our rivers, streams and harbor.

“Corporate volunteering is a great way to get out into the community that you live and work in, learn more about how it is all connected, and what you can do to help keep it clean and thriving,” said Amy Rogers, AOL manager and Blue Water Baltimore corporate team leader. She added, “Working with Blue Water Baltimore has expanded my views on water quality and the environment, for you learn that what you do really does impact the overall goal.”

Blue Water Congregations

An Interfaith Response to Polluted runoff

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With funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Blue Water Baltimore and Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake have developed Blue Water Congregations, a program to identify and implement stormwater reduction strategies at faith-based institutions in Baltimore. This important investment with our partners works to restore water quality and connects members of all faiths to the environment.

In 2014, Blue Water Baltimore conducted site visits at 29 congregations to assist with projects, securing funding, and developing stormwater design plans.

“The environmental impact that remediation can bring from large faith-based institutions is tremendous. Not just in terms of scale from the physical projects, but also in providing a take-home message to congregants. We call this the ripple effect, and it is exciting to see the progress as we move forward. There are over 5,000 places of worship in Maryland, and we can’t wait to see more projects in the ground to share with others on what is possible,” said Jodie Rose, executive director at Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake.

Collaborative Partnership

Increasing the Region’s Tree Canopy

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Through our partnership with TreeBaltimore, a program of Baltimore City Recreation and Parks that strives to establish and preserve urban trees, we are committed to increasing the region’s tree canopy. This requires not only maintaining Baltimore’s current stock of trees, but also expanding the existing tree canopy from 27.4 percent to 40 percent, a recommendation for healthy cities from American Forests.

In 2014, with the help of YouthWorks, Blue Water Baltimore watered and maintained 6,003 native trees, across five watersheds, at 68 sites throughout Baltimore.

“A good example of the synergy between our two organizations is the work Blue Water Baltimore has performed for stream restoration and the re-establishment of riparian buffers. These efforts in turn affect the quality and quantity of our urban forests’ woodlands, and are an important part of our upcoming forest management plans for major parks in Baltimore City,” said City Arborist and Chief of Urban Forestry Erik M. Dihle.

Investing in Baltimore’s Waterfront

Partnering Together to Achieve a Swimmable, Fishable Harbor

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Together with the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, Blue Water Baltimore is committed to the Healthy Harbor Initiative, which aims to restore and protect the harbor and the waters that flow into it. Jointly we develop and distribute educational materials that raise public awareness about the state of our waterways. Each year we collaborate on the Healthy Harbor Report Card, which grades the region’s water quality and conveys how different types of pollution affect our rivers, streams, and harbor.

“We have been partnering with Blue Water Baltimore since day one of our work to create a swimmable and fishable Baltimore Harbor, and we couldn’t imagine our work without them. We jointly fund and produce the Healthy Harbor Report Card, we strategize together, and we rely on Blue Water Baltimore’s expertise and upstream work with the residents of Baltimore City,” said Healthy Harbor Initiative Manager Adam Lindquist.

Volunteering for Native Plants

Promoting a Healthy Environment and Creating a Culture of Giving

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At Herring Run Nursery, we focus on both plants and people to bring nature back into our communities, schools, and residential yards. The nursery is a place where customers gather and learn about growing a garden of native plants that will create a habitat to support wildlife and reduce stormwater runoff.

In 2014, Herring Run Nursery provided more than 22,000 native plants to more than 1,400 customers. The nursery offers more than 250 varieties of native trees, shrubs, plants, and flowers.

Certified Master Gardener and Nursery Volunteer Gail Ritscher said, “Caring for our environment crosses all boundaries including politics, age, and ethnicity. That means volunteering with Blue Water Baltimore will bring you in contact with people from all walks of life, some of which might surprise you. So not only are you helping the environment, you’re enriching your own life and expanding your horizons in the process.” She added, “Because of Blue Water Baltimore, I have created a garden on my property that has become my refuge, my therapist, and my creative outlet.”