Initiative for Change on the Lower Eastern Shore

The Initiative for Change on the Lower Eastern Shore uses strategies of engagement, empowerment and enforcement to

  • defend and implement pollution-reducing policies;
  • pressure government and industry to meet community-led demands for accountability and solutions;
  • accurately track agricultural pollution impacts on water and people;
  • create a level playing field for small and sustainable farmers.

The initiative focuses on enforcement of environmental laws, advocacy for policy reform, community organizing, and operation of new citizen air and water monitoring networks. The initiative aims to ensure that any expansion of the poultry industry on Maryland’s Eastern Shore does not harm the health of local residents or pollute waterways. Over the coming years, we expect this initiative to reverse declining air and water quality trends on the Eastern Shore, thereby helping Maryland to meet its pollution goals under the Chesapeake Bay TMDL.

The initiative is a collaborative of the Assateague Coastal Trust, Center for Progressive Reform, Chesapeake Legal Alliance, Waterkeepers Chesapeake, and the Environmental Integrity Project that began in 2019.


Sustainable Farming

E3 supports environmentally sound farming practices and just transition policies that provide funding and resources to farmers willing to work in this direction, and supports efforts by local activists and concerned citizens to fight for a healthier food system on the Lower Eastern Shore. E3 worked to engage and connect with food and farm workers across the agricultural supply chain, and worked to improve the safety of working conditions. E3 raises awareness and engagement on issues through partnerships, collaborations, events and outreach, works on legislation, and conducts research. Due to the COVID-19 safety restrictions on in person events, much of the recent outreach and engagement happened online. Events included a movie showing of “Right to Harm” in May 2020, followed by an online presentation and town hall about agricultural pollution with public health experts in June 2020; also in June 2020, hosted a community engagement webinar with local farmers about the environment and the benefits of transitioning to sustainable agriculture; and a webinar in November with farmers, legislators and advocates discussing the legacies of inequity and racism in our food system.

Nitrate Hazards

Tainted Tap: Nitrate Pollution, Factory Farms, and Drinking Water in Maryland and Beyond, CPR October 2020

E3 initiated a campaign to raise awareness about nitrates in drinking water on the Eastern Shore. On Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore, the number of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) has proliferated in recent years. Over-application or mismanagement of nitrogen-rich manure can cause nitrates to leach into the groundwater that Lower Eastern Shore residents rely on for drinking water, with serious implications for public health. Nitrate pollution has been linked to blue baby syndrome, a condition fatal to infants, certain types of cancer, and pregnancy complications. Poultry manure is a major source of nitrates in drinking water. E3’s strategy includes research, legislation, and a citizen-science monitoring project.  E3 published a report assessing private wells and public system water quality on the Lower Eastern Shore, as well as private well regulation in Maryland.

Lower Shore Safe Well Water Initiative

The Lower Shore Safe Well Water Initiative is seeking volunteers who live in Somerset, Wicomico, or Worcester County and have a private well to test their water for nitrate. By participating in the Lower Shore Safe Well Water Initiative, you are helping researchers understand the extent of nitrate contamination on Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore. Volunteers will also help advocates alert your community and local officials to potential contamination that should be addressed. Learn more here.

Pollution Monitoring & Enforcement

Poultry Industry Pollution in the Chesapeake Region, EIP April 2020

Our initiative supports legislation and regulations that hold the poultry industry accountable for disposing of the waste it produces in a responsible manner. Areas that E3 has addressed includes ensuring that the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) promulgates fees for large feeding operations (AFOs); commenting on and challenging the draft Maryland General Discharge Permit for AFOs, calling for MDE to consider climate change and water pollution caused by unchecked ammonia emissions; releasing a report about ammonia air emissions and nitrogen loads from the poultry industry; and working on legislation.

Latest News

Gov. Hogan: Rural Marylanders Deserve Safe Drinking Water!

Nearly one million Marylanders rely on well water as their primary drinking source and must take the safety of their drinking water into their own hands. Unfortunately, many have not been informed about potential drinking water contaminants, do not know they should test their wells annually, or cannot afford the cost of testing. Access to … Read more

Ensure All Marylanders Have Safe Drinking Water!

Take Action and tell your Maryland legislators to pass House Bill 250 and ensure safe drinking water for all Marylanders today! The Safe Drinking Water Act is the primary federal law governing the health of the nation’s drinking water, but its protections do not extend to private drinking wells and smaller community-based water systems. Roughly 830,000 … Read more

84% of MD Poultry Operations Failed Water Pollution Control Inspections from 2017-2020 But Only 2% Paid Fines

New Reports Connect Lax State Oversight to Continuing High Phosphorus and Algae Levels in Eastern Shore Rivers FOR RELEASE: Thursday, October 28, 2021 Media contact: Tom Pelton, Environmental Integrity Project (443) 510-2574 or Washington, D.C. – Eighty four percent of the 182 Maryland poultry operations inspected by the state between 2017 and 2020 had one or … Read more

May 20: ‘Our Food Future’ from Wild & Scenic Film Festival

The E3 Initiative For Citizen Engagement On The Lower Shore is pleased to present a virtual Wild & Scenic Film Festival on Thursday, May 20th. Virtual lobby doors open at 6:30 pm, with films beginning at 7:00 pm. Register and buy your tickets here! How food is grown affects our planet in a multitude of ways. From … Read more