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Federal, State, and local governments are consistently working on new regulations to help protect and restore water quality in our neighborhood rivers and streams as well as in the Baltimore Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay.
Keeping track of them all can be confusing, especially when some laws are being proposed, others are being written, and still others are already being enacted.
Below is a list of regulations that we feel will are essential to our effort to clean up Baltimore's neighborhoods and Harbor.
Baltimore City 2012 MS4 Permit
Status: Draft currently available.
MDE has reached a tentative determination to issue an NPDES permit to Baltimore City to control storm drain system pollutant discharges. MDE has drafted a permit designed to comply with the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulations and to control stormwater pollutant discharges from the City’s storm drain system. The permit is issued for five years.
Baltimore Harbor Trash TMDL
Status: Draft currently available
On September 4, 2008 the Environmental Protection Agency approved the listing of Baltimore Harbor as impaired by trash, debris, and floatables. The Maryland Department of the Environment is now responsible for developing a plan to reduce the trash entering Baltimore Harbor. The plan is called a TMDL (total maximum daily load) or “pollution diet”. Maryland is the third state in the nation to have waterways listed as impaired by trash – the other two being California and Hawaii. Following the Anacostia River, Baltimore Harbor is the second waterway in Maryland to receive this designation.
The Baltimore Harbor Trash TMDL should be completed in 2012. In the meantime, the Maryland Department of the Environment has produced this map showing what water bodies are covered under the trash impairment.
Maryland Phase II Watershed Implementation Plans
Status: Draft currently available.
As part of the effort to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland Department of the Environment has mandated that all Maryland Counties and Baltimore City make significant reductions in two specific types of pollutants that runoff our urban environment - phosphorus and nitrogen. In large quantities these nutrients cause algae blooms, which create "dead zones" in both Baltimore Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay.
By 2020, Baltimore City must reduce phosphorus loads by 48% and nitrogen loads by 30%. If Baltimore fails to reach these reductions the City will face penalties from the US Environmental Protection Agency.
To read a draft version of the Phase II Watershed Implentation Plans for Baltimroe City, Baltimore County, or any other county visit MDE's website here.
Maryland Beverage Container Deposit Program
Status: Under consideration for current legislative sessions
There are 11 states with beverage container deposit programs, which require a refundable deposit on recyclable beverage containers to ensure an increased recycling rate. Though beverage containers are only a fraction of the litter stream, deposit programs have been highly effective at reducing the amount of litter in the communities that have adopted them. In fact, there is little evidence that any other program, in and of itself, is nearly as effective as deposit programs at reducing litter rates.
In 2011 Maryland passed a bill establishing a task force to study the impact a deposit program might have on the State. The task force is required to report its findings to the Governor no later than December 31, 2011.
In support of this task force, the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore and the Abell Foundation have commissioned the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center to write a report on the impact that bottle deposit programs have had in other states. This report has recently been completed and will be available here shortly.
For more information about beverage container deposit programs check out this website.
Plastic Bag Fee
Status: Under consideration for the current legislative sessions
In 2009 Washington, DC enacted a bag bill requiring a 5 cent fee be charged for each paper and plastic single-use bag given out. By 2010, the volume of plastic bags sold dropped from 270 million to about 55 million – that is almost an 80% reduction!
Waterfront Partnership is working with the Trash Free Maryland Alliance to make passing a plastic bag fee a priority in the 2013 legislative session. The bill is currentlly being sponsored by Delegate Mary Washington and Senator Brian Frosh and is known as the Community Clean Up and Greening Act.
National Stormwater Rulemaking
Status: EPA to release new rules on June 10, 2013 and release final rules on December 10, 2014
EPA has initiated a national rulemaking to establish a program to reduce stormwater discharges from newly developed and redeveloped sites and make other regulatory improvements to strengthen its stormwater program.
The proposed national rulemaking is considering the following key rulemaking actions:
- Develop performance standards from newly developed and redeveloped sites to better address stormwater management as projects are built;
- Explore options for expanding the protections of the municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4) program;
- Evaluate options for establishing and implementing a municipal program to reduce discharges from existing development;
- Evaluate establishing a single set of minimum measures requirements for regulated MS4s. However, industrial requirements may only apply to regulated MS4s serving populations of 100,000 or more;
- Explore options for establishing specific requirements for transportation facilities; and
- Evaluating additional provisions specific to the Chesapeake Bay watershed.