The Anacostia is one of the ten most polluted rivers in the nation. For too long we have accepted that a polluted Anacostia has to be a reality for the District. However, under pressure from the EPA, the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) is finally dealing with the six most toxic sites along the Anacostia, one of which is Pepco's Benning Road power plant. On February 2, 2011, DDOE announced that it had reached a "consent decree" with Pepco that it believes will address the legacy of pollution at Benning Road (to learn more click here). The proposal is promising, as there have been six documented releases of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from the site over the years. PCBS are known cuase developmental problems and are carcinogenic in humans and wildlife, for example two-third of all brown bull-head catfish (pictured above) in the Anacostia have tumors.
In 1983, 1987 and 2000, Maryland Governors and their counterparts in Virginia, the District of Columbia and other jurisdictions in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed signed formal agreements that set timelines for cleaning up the Bay. The most recent agreement called for deadlines that were to be met by 2010. That deadline will not be met.
County Executive Rushern Baker and the Prince George’s County Council may soon join with their Washington, DC counterparts to take steps to further protect and restore the long-neglected Anacostia River. A stronger stormwater permit standard would combine with funding from a new local stormwater utility fee to upgrade and enhance the County’s water management.
Delaware’s forthcoming plans for handling the decades-old pile of toxic coal ash stored on Burton Island in Indian River will face tough scrutiny from Clean Water Action.
“The state’s long-term plan for the Burton Island coal ash landfill needs to include rapidly phasing out the use of coal as an energy source,” says Clean Water Action’s Andrew Fellows. “Coal’s many impacts on our communities are devastating, and the Burton Island site is yet another example of this.”
By Andrew Fellows
2012 was a big year for Clean Water Action members. Together we made progress advancing protections for the Chesapeake Bay and strengthening safeguards for our health and our water all across the region.
Through our victory in enacting the Watershed Protection and Restoration Act, Maryland has the potential to become a national model for addressing the pollution that flows from parking lots and streets in our suburbs and cities. This victory also shows that it is possible to keep moving forward on protecting our water, even if Congress remains stymied by partisan gridlock and the U.S. House retains a majority which would like to see major environmental laws weakened or eliminated.
Last year’s landmark Watershed Protection and Restoration Act victory has energized local governments in Baltimore and Maryland’s largest counties to develop new funding for reducing pollution from streets and parking lots. Local jurisdictions will enact stormwater utility fees, ending subsidies to developers who have long avoided accountability for pollution flowing from paved areas. These local measures will generate millions of dollars to help residents and businesses to improve water management.
Building on Past Victories to Protect Maryland’s Water
Clean Water Action is supporting Sen. Ben Cardin and Reps. Chris Van Hollen, Donna Edwards, and Dutch Ruppersberger for re-election. These clean water leaders are outspoken advocates and champions in the fight to defend America’s streams, rivers and bays. Their efforts have been especially important since January 2011, when U.S. House began its extreme anti-environment assaults, with more than three hundred votes to defund, deregulate or eliminate water and health protections. More than thirty-five of those votes sought to dismantle the forty-year-old Clean Water Act.