Attorney General Gansler Marks Earth Day 2012 with Release of Chesapeake Bay Watershed Audit
Targeting river polluters and developing strategies for a healthier Bay
Baltimore, MD (April 22, 2012) - In an effort to expand environmental awareness and highlight greater understanding of the challenges facing Maryland waterways, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler marked Earth Day by releasing his 2011 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Environmental Audit. The fourth in a series of annual reports details the 2011 audits of the Back, Anacostia and Choptank Rivers and the Baltimore Harbor. For each audit, the Attorney General travels into communities, watershed by watershed, to learn first-hand from those who know, use and love our State rivers.
"Community residents, local activists and civic leaders know where the problems exist and offer practical and innovative solutions to improve the health of the Bay and its tributaries," said Attorney General Gansler. "This approach is central to our audits and these environmental visits allow my office to establish meaningful relationships with watershed communities. They provide critical information that helps us identify and target polluters, as well as determine where legislation is needed."
Since April 2008, the Office of the Attorney General has been conducting a river-by-river audit to identify environmental problems at their source and formulate solutions that will benefit the Bay. Each year, the Attorney General visits four of the Bay's tributaries to learn about the specific problems in each individual watershed, as well as pollution issues common throughout the greater Chesapeake Bay watershed.
In each watershed, the Attorney General has spent a full day meeting with local elected officials, environmental leaders, students and citizens. He has traveled by boat and walked the shores of the waterways to learn about the watersheds, their problems and ongoing restoration efforts, and also to identify unique sources of pollution. Using this firsthand approach, the Attorney General has been able to focus on gathering information from those most intimately familiar with the rivers in order to develop tailored solutions and enhance enforcement of environmental laws. The Attorney General's ultimate goal is to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay.
During the 2011 environmental audits, the Attorney General learned about environmental matters specific to these locations, ranging from invasive non-native species, to oyster harvesting and poaching, to agricultural animal waste, to industrial hazardous waste sites. However, the audits also revealed recurring concerns common among the watersheds including:
- Pollution related to urban and residential growth;
- The need to enhance enforcement against polluters; and,
- The benefits of increased public awareness about environmental issues.
As this information was gathered from each watershed, the Attorney General referred a number of matters to appropriate regulatory agencies; initiated and concluded enforcement actions and lawsuits; and supported significant legislation that ultimately will benefit the Chesapeake Bay, including a bill that bans the use of arsenic additives in poultry feed.
Each year, Attorney General Gansler will continue to visit four of the Bay's tributaries to conduct similar audits and open lines of communication that will continue long after the day spent at each river as new issues and problems arise. These ongoing relationships will provide eyes and ears to help identify environmental problems and solutions, and what has been learned will inform future audits and enhance their effectiveness.
A copy the Attorney General's 2011 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Environmental Audit can be found at: http://www.oag.state.md.us/Reports/2011EnvironmentalAudit.pdf