As the Water Quality Manager at Blue Water Baltimore, my days are usually spent collecting water samples in our streams and Harbor or teaching people how different types of pollution enter our waterways.
Earlier this month, I swapped my work boots for a suit jacket when I testified in front of the Maryland House Environment and Transportation Committee for the first time.
The bill that brought me into Annapolis was HB1240, which is focused on the enforcement of Erosion and Sediment Control (ESC) regulations. Typical ESC practices include the installation of silt fences, stabilization of loose soil, and other measures to reduce the amount of sediment washed off of construction sites and into our streams when it rains.
The HB1240 bill would have required inspectors to issue three separate warnings to non-compliant construction sites before they could take any enforcement actions or issue any fines to contractors, which would ultimately result in more sediment flowing into our waterways over time.
Not only is this sediment contaminated with toxic chemicals, it also destroys habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms.
The bill also would have given bad actors an unfair competitive advantage over those who are already in compliance with the existing regulations. Constructing a silt fence costs money, so what’s the incentive to build one if there are no meaningful or timely repercussions for not doing so?
Strong, enforceable Erosion and Sediment Control regulations level the playing field, and are in the best interest of everyone involved.
Environmental Legislation Victory
On March 16, 2016 HB1240 was voted down by the Maryland House Environment & Transportation Committee, thanks in large part to testimony from Blue Water Baltimore, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Community & Environmental Defense Services, and the Bird River Restoration Campaign.
Blue Water Baltimore and our volunteers participated in both the 2014 and 2015 Greater Baltimore Surveys of construction site ESC compliance. In the coming months we will continue our efforts to monitor and enforce Erosion and Sediment Control violations in Baltimore.
You can help make an impact by reporting suspected violations via our online Pollution Reporting tool.
Hint: if you see mud flowing down the street while it’s raining, there’s probably an ESC violation in sight!.