Attorney General Gansler Releases 2012 Chesapeake Bay and Maryland Watersheds Audit, Marking Earth Day 2013
Audit targets polluters and helps foster strategies for a healthier state
Baltimore, MD ( April 22, 2013) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler is marking Earth Day 2013 with the release of his 2012 Chesapeake Bay and Maryland Watersheds Environmental Audit. The Attorney General's fifth annual report details the 2012 audits of the Youghiogheny River and Deep Creek Lake; Maryland's Coastal Bays; Wye River; and Potomac River North Branch and Savage River. For each audit, the Attorney General traveled into communities within each watershed to learn first-hand from those who know, use and cherish our State's diverse water resources.
"We examine the key water pollution issues with local residents, activists and civic leaders who understand the environmental problems they face and often propose creative, useful solutions," said Attorney General Gansler. "We are also able to establish important relationships with these communities as we work together to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay, our lakes, rivers and coastal waters."
Since April 2008, the Office of the Attorney General has been conducting a statewide river-by-river audit to identify environmental problems at their source and formulate solutions that will benefit the Bay. Each year, Attorney General Gansler visits four of the Bay's tributaries to learn about the unique problems in each individual waterway, as well as pollution issues common throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
In each audit, the Attorney General spends 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 their problems and ongoing restoration efforts, and also to identify unique sources of pollution. Using this firsthand approach, Attorney General Gansler 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.
This year, the Attorney General traveled to the Maryland watersheds that lie beyond the Chesapeake Bay watershed - west to the Youghiogheny River and Deep Creek Lake and east to Maryland's Coastal Bays. Both are important waters of the state facing familiar threats from pollution with active communities working to protect them.
During the 2012 environmental audits, Attorney General Gansler learned about environmental matters specific to each location, ranging from destructive in-state and out-of-state wastewater discharges, to hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" for natural gas within the Marcellus Shale formation of Western Maryland, to high bacteria counts that constrict shellfish harvesting, to high mercury levels in fish found in our lakes. 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 waterway, 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 would have established a pesticide use database. The bill passed in a form that requires the creation of a workgroup to study and make recommendations regarding future regulations and legislation.
In 2013, Attorney General Gansler will again visit four of Maryland's watershed communities to conduct similar audits and open lines of communication. 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 2012 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Environmental Audit can be found at: http://www.oag.state.md.us/reports/2012EnvironmentalAudit.pdf.