April 5, 2012

Good news for the Chesapeake Bay?

My "Save the Bay" sticker on my car is fading, but there was some good news for the Chesapeake Bay recently. As our sailing season draws near, the EPA announced that restoration of the bay is ahead of schedule on two of three key pollutants.

Whoopee for a reduction of nitrogen, although I still see many of my neighbors dumping the stuff on their lawns in the spring. The lawncare experts keep recommending three fall and winter applications--of the slow-release nitrogen.

But sediment too? I find that hard to believe after Hurricane Irene dumped so much rain on the Susquehanna River last year that the Conowingo Dam allowed tons of trapped sediment (much of it retained by the dam since Hurricane Agnes in 1972) to flow through the dam and smother the northern bay oysters. And we sail on the frequently murky Chesapeake waters. John Smith wouldn't recognize it centuries after he could see the bottom.

Phosphorus limits have not panned out yet, although our lawn fertilizers will have no phosphorus by 2013--except for limited uses. And that regulation was passed by a Republican-controlled Virginia Assembly! The plant and lawn experts finally decided that those three familiar numbers on fertilizers can be reduced to only two. "Potash" or phosphorus isn't really needed by healthy established lawns and shrubs.

So do regulations work? Or do they mean fewer jobs?

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) folks debunk the myth that environmental regs are job killers, and point out that between 1990 and 2009, the number of environmental clean-up and monitoring jobs increased by 43 percent across the region. Click here for the CBF debunking info.