Healthy Harbor
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Elected officials focus on clearly stated priorities of their constituents.  Your elected officials at the City, State and federal level need to know you care about clean water. Five minutes of your time could help garner more attention to your neighborhood, a stream running near your community, the Jones Falls or Gwynns Falls tributary nearby and the Harbor.

Creating a Healthy Harbor will also require new legislation that helps to drastically reduce some of the most prevalent pollutants in the Harbor.  You can help enact this important legislation by contacting your elected officials and telling them that you support the legislation below.

Don’t know who your elected officials are?  Simply enter your address on this website to find out:

Maryland Bag Bill

Did you know that plastic bags are the second-most common type of ocean refuse after cigarette butts?  Each year the U.S. goes through 100 billion single-use bags and far too many of them end up in our rivers and streams where they make their way into the Harbor and out into the Chesapeake Bay.  It is estimated that 100,000 marine mammals die each year after mistaking plastic bags for food.  In addition to the dire environmental impacts, these unnecessary plastic bags float around Baltimore’s Harbor and create an eyesore for visitors and residents alike.

The Maryland state legislature has made several attempts to pass a statewide bag bill that would impose an optional five-cent fee on customers who choose to use disposable plastic bags instead of reusable bags.  So far, Maryland has failed to pass a state wide Bag Bill even as Washington, DC and Montgomery County have succeeded in implementing their own similar legislation.  But we’re not giving up!  We’ll keep you updated here about proposed new legislation for the 2012 General Assembly. In the meantime, tell your state legislators that you support a bag bill that would help keep plastic bags out of our rivers, streams, and the Harbor.

Maryland Bottle Bill

Data from the Maryland Department of the Environment shows that over 55 percent of the beverage containers generated in the State are not recycled.  A majority of these containers end up as litter and are carried into streams and rivers by stormwater runoff.  A recent volunteer river clean up in Maryland found that recyclable containers made up more than 20 percent of the total waste collected.

Bottle deposit legislation requires a refundable deposit on recyclable beverage containers in order to ensure an increased recycling rate.  Studies show that it works!  In the eleven states that have enacted bottle bills, litter has been reduced by as much as 64 percent, while recycling rates have more than doubled.  You can help bring a bottle bill to Maryland by contacting your state legislators and asking them to introduce and/or support a bottle bill in the 2012 legislative session. We’ll keep you posted here on any bills introduced in the 2012 General Assembly.

Stormwater Utility

Stormwater runoff is the fastest growing source of pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.  Runoff is created when it rains on impervious surfaces such as roads, parking lots, and rooftops.  As water runs off these surfaces, it is direct into storm drains, which flow, untreated, into the City’s streams and Harbor. 

A stormwater utility is similar in structure to water and wastewater utilities but instead of properties being assessed on the amount of water consumed, they are assessed on the amount of stormwater runoff they generate.  Hundreds of municipalities throughout the nation have adopted stormwater utilities because they are the most equitable way to pay for costs associated with stormwater management. One of the major values of a utility is that incentives (i.e., credits) can be given to businesses and homeowners who can demonstrate actions to reduce stormwater runoff on their property (e.g., rain barrels).

Be sure to check back here for updates on the creation of a stormwater utility fee and other clean water legislation and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.