Tell MDE You Want Effective Pollution Limits for Baltimore City
The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is the state agency responsible for protecting our waterways from pollution and thereby protecting our health. One of the most important steps they can take towards fulfilling this responsibility is to issue clear and enforceable limits on the amount of pollution that cities like Baltimore are allowed to discharge into local waterways.
What is the problem?
MDE recently decided to issue a water pollution permit to Baltimore City to regulate the pollution discharging directly from Baltimore’s stormwater pipes into our rivers, streams and Harbor. Sadly, this permit lacks specific limits on the amount of pollution that is allowed to go into our waterways and also lacks enforceable deadlines by which these limits must be reached.
Why is it important?
Baltimore’s stormwater system (the infrastructure that carries stormwater and pollutants from the storm drains you see on the streets directly to our streams and Harbor) is a major source of pollution to Baltimore’s waterways. This pollution is one of the main reasons Baltimore’s waterways are currently suffering so badly and are unsafe for residents to swim, fish and crab.
Pollutants ranging from construction site sediment and toxic metals to untreated human sewage enter our waterways through the stormwater system, and lead to the fish kills, sewage spills, and algal blooms that we all observe on a regular basis each year.
The Federal Clean Water Act requires that our waterways be restored to fishable and swimmable pollutant levels and this permit must be strengthened in order to do so.
In addition, millions of taxpayer dollars have gone into restoring the Chesapeake Bay during the last few decades with little success. The latest plan to clean up the Bay—the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL or pollution diet)—is only enforceable through stormwater permits such as this one for Baltimore City (which will also serve as a template for the other permits across the State). It is imperative that this permit be strengthened in order to make sure this latest cleanup plan is different and results in actual improvements to our local waterways and the Bay.
What can you do about it?
In short, tell the Maryland Department of the Environment – loud and clear – that residents of Baltimore, Maryland, and the Chesapeake region are fed up with polluted waterways. The Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper is providing detailed technical and legal comments, but it is important that MDE also hear from you!
So, we have drafted a letter for you to sign, telling MDE to take a stand on behalf of your environment and your health. Tell MDE that you find this woefully inadequate draft permit unacceptable, and that you want a permit that will result in real improvements to our waterways.
Complete the form below to add your signature to our public comment letter, which will be submitted on your behalf to MDE.
The comment deadline is quickly approaching, so read the language of the public comment letter and complete the form by September 19th at 5pm!