February 2023 ENews

Clean Water Priorities in Maryland & Virginia

Every year, Waterkeepers Chesapeake works with our Waterkeepers across the region on critical clean water legislative priorities. This year, Maryland and Virginia’s general assemblies are off to a dynamic start. In Maryland, there is a new feeling of optimism with Governor Wes Moore’s administration. For several issues, we now expect to work with the Maryland Department of the Environment and other agencies on improving enforcement, enacting regulatory reforms, and advocating for increased budgets for adequate agency staffing. Some of our remaining legislative priorities include issues such as strengthening regulation of polluted stormwater from construction sites, eliminating sources of PFAS (the “forever chemical”), putting the responsibility of plastic pollution on the producers, and reducing dirty sources of energy in the Renewable Portfolio Standard. In Virginia, the legislative climate is different with a divided government. Much of our work is in defending the progress made, and opposing rollbacks in pollution protections and weakened public participation or open government processes.

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Huge Win for Susquehanna River & Chesapeake Bay!

At the end of 2022 — the eve of our tenth anniversary as an organization — we received amazing news about our long-running fight to get a fair deal on the cleanup at Conowingo Dam. This is a battle we have been waging with our partners the Lower Susquehanna and Sassafras Riverkeepers, with representation by Earthjustice, for the past 10 years. And We Won! The previous damaging license granted to Constellation Energy to operate the dam for the next 50 years was thrown out by the U.S. Court of Appeals, and a new license will now be created. This outcome protects the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay today, as well as setting a precedent for all federally licensed projects across the country in the future. Constellation doesn’t want to pay more and will pull out all of the stops to pressure Maryland into negotiating. But the court decision was clear. The water quality protections in the 2018 certification must go into the license.

The court decision shows that our persistence and hard work was worth it, and sets a national precedent. Now it’s more critical than ever to finish the fight! Please consider a donation today to support our work.

Hanover County Residents’ Challenge of Wegmans Distribution Center Will Get Its Day in Court

In a victory for environmental justice that will create precedence for underserved communities, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the residents impacted by the construction and operation of a massive Wegmans distribution center can have their day in court. The Supreme Court ruled in Morgan et al. v. Board of Supervisors of Hanover County that the homeowners had a sufficient factual basis for standing to bring a challenge to zoning decisions that can have significant implications for communities and the environment in court.

Hanover County residents brought a challenge to local zoning decisions related to the siting of the 1.7 million square foot Wegmans distribution center on a 217-acre property that includes forested wetlands, located in the historic Brown Grove community. This court decision is significant to all Commonwealth communities that are fighting harmful zoning decisions and are pushing back against further environmental injustices by giving residents harmed by zoning decisions access to courts.

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Creation of a Chesapeake National Recreation Area

The Chesapeake Bay has long been a treasured natural area to enjoy for those in the Mid-Atlantic region. That’s why the coalition United for a Chesapeake National Recreation Area is rallying support to designate the state parks and wildlife areas around the Chesapeake Bay as a National Recreation Area. Waterkeepers Chesapeake is happy to be a member of the coalition. A designation of this sort means that the area would be eligible for national funding which would improve the visitor experience, increase public access to the Bay, protect the natural environment, and build awareness of all the beauty that the Chesapeake Bay region has to offer. Good news! Senator Van Hollen and Representative Sarbanes released draft legislation to designate an official Chesapeake Bay National Recreation Area through the National Park Service. If you would like to make your voice heard on this issue, please consider submitting public comment by February 12, 2023, here.

Film: The Dirt on Soil Health

The farms in our new film The Dirt on Soil Health exemplify how climate-smart regenerative practices grow healthy soil, protect water quality, improve ecosystem health, and reduce farm risk from extreme weather events. The film illustrates a need for government programs that lower the bar to adoption of regenerative farming both in urban and rural areas. We thank Mason’s Heritage Farm, Strength to Love Farm, and Maryland Delegate Andrea Harrison for sharing their stories in the film.


Support Us While You Shop!

Amabile Designs Use code CHESAPEAKE for 15% off your purchase and Waterkeepers Chesapeake will receive 10% of the sale. The code is per order, unlimited uses, and never expires. SHOP TODAY!

Go Play Outside donates 4% of online purchases to us! Go Play Outside’s awesome outdoor wear is sourced responsibly. SHOP TODAY!

You Can Make Difference

We have made it easier to find and report pollution — and to report the fun things you see and do on the river. Working with Chesapeake Commons, we developed the free Water Reporter app so you can send reports directly to your local Waterkeeper. Download it today!

Take Swim Guide with you – wherever you go. The free Swim Guide app makes it easy to know the water quality at your beach. Several of our Waterkeepers post water quality monitoring results every week — check it out before you head to your favorite river, bay or beach.


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Waterkeepers Chesapeake fights for clean water and a healthy environment by supporting Waterkeepers throughout the Chesapeake and coastal regions as they protect their communities, rivers, and streams from pollution.

For info: www.WaterkeepersChesapeake.org or email info@waterkeeperschesapeake.org.

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