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[q]

Cityscape: More studies of bay's woes are just pork
By ERIC SMITH, Staff Writer
People who are concerned with cleaning up the bay have suspected for years that the Chesapeake Bay Program is just a big, sloppy boondoggle. Now those suspicions have been confirmed.

A recent report by the Government Accountability Office concludes that the program, which supposedly coordinates federal and state cleanup efforts, needs at least as much fixing as the bay itself.

According to the auditors, its goals are confused, its methods are questionable and its monitoring is erratic. Way too much money is being spent on doing way too little for the bay.

The GAO auditors are right, of course, but unfortunately for all the wrong reasons.

They blame the program for "downplaying" the deteriorated condition of the bay, for example, but in fact it often does just the opposite.

Hardly a month goes by without a mournful pronouncement by some branch of the program that the bay is sick, dying fast or already dead. Aquatic grasses are disappearing, shellfish are being poisoned, acid rain is falling and tons of toxic crud are polluting our waterways. The news is never good.

In a massive irony that only bureaucrats could concoct, the same GAO auditors who found so much fault in the Chesapeake Bay Program are also recommending in their report that more money needs to be thrown at it.

Yes, the investigators who suddenly discovered that $5.6 billion has been largely frittered away over the last decade now have the nerve to suggest that many additional billions of dollars must be frittered away to make things better.

The ironies don't stop there. GAO auditors criticize the program for not developing a "clear, realistic plan" to meet its bay restoration goals.

This sounds a lot like an endorsement of more plans and studies, and more plans and studies are exactly what the Bay program doesn't need. Much of the money piddled away in the last ten years went to reams of redundant analyses of why the bay was in trouble, what could be done about it and who should organize it.

At this point every person with a pulse knows pretty much where bay pollution comes from and how it can be reduced. No one needs to read (or pay for) yet another academic treatise on the finer points of particulates or pollution management minutia.

It's a good sign that federal auditors have finally gotten around to exposing the Bay Program for what it is - a pork program for environmental burteaucrats. It's not such a good sign that the auditors seem to favor filling up the pork barrel again.

------SAD, Isin't the word for this type of wasted time & money---Many are driven by these reports to put forth thier efforts to improve matters based on what they hear & read --I, for one try to keep up with the daily GLOOM & DOOM images that fill the papers & airwaves---Hopefully, SOME good will come of these programs, in the near future & the proper Leadership will prevail in getting the job done.

----It is aparent , that funds are not lacking, But getting what you paid for is!!---OH WELL------

[shy][shy][shy]
 

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Capt. George,
I don't think I'm surprised here. Until the masses demand accountability, more money will be "frittered" away.

Water quality improved dramatically during the drought years. Why? No run-off. Salinity was up, and reports of Drum in the Patpasco were everywhere. Trout in abundance too. If we could just get that one piece of the puzzle fixed, we'd be setting ourselves up for resource survival and abundance.

I thought there was a recent report or book published by a Naval Academy prof that was critical of the Ches. Bay Foundation and their lack of success. 80K+ members, and I wonder if my dues aren't better spent elsewhere.
 

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Capt.George,

Thanks for posting this article.
GAO auditors who found so much fault in the Chesapeake Bay Program are also recommending in their report that more money needs to be thrown at it.
A typical political move, throwing more money at problems…BAD IDEA. That's a complete waste. The laws, to protect our Bay and its tributaries, such as the Clean Water Act, has been ignored and not enforced against big business. Other environmental laws passed to protect our water and land have also been ignored.

No Additional Moneys Needed To Act NOW

We need to enforcing the existing laws and punishing the companies and individuals now polluting OUR Bay. Not by putting them in jail, but by fining them. This will supply plenty of funds to pay for the more law enforcement so badly needed, and this will help clean up the Bay. Very little of the tax payers money will be needed.

It amazes me that our high positioned government officials, attend meeting after meeting with the problems clearly in front of them, can't keep it simple and act on the problem swiftly.

I guess it must be too much book educated with very little common since??
 

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Capt G,

What is the source of the opinion you quoted ? The author takes a cheap shot at the problems and doesn't mention any positives. He also offers no realistic recommendations to rectify the issue. I'm certainly interested in a quick fix, got one ?

It took 100+ years to degrade the Bay to it's point today. We ain't gonna fix it in 25. If it were not for groups like CBF, do you think the Bay would be in a better or worse state ???
 
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[Q]scotty80 originally wrote:
Capt G,

What is the source of the opinion you quoted ? The author takes a cheap shot at the problems and doesn't mention any positives. He also offers no realistic recommendations to rectify the issue. I'm certainly interested in a quick fix, got one ?

It took 100+ years to degrade the Bay to it's point today. We ain't gonna fix it in 25. If it were not for groups like CBF, do you think the Bay would be in a better or worse state ???
[/Q]

Is the author taking cheap shots at the problems or have the GAO auditors concluded what the author is repeating.

Here is another article.

http://www.bayjournal.com/article.cfm?article=2679

And here is a link to the report. As you will see it's not an opinion by a reporter.

http://www.chesapeakebay.net/newsgao111505.htm
 

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Discussion Starter #7
[q]Direct & Indirect Spending on the Bay's Restoration

The General Accountability Office report contained the most complete analysis to date of how much money has been spent to restore the Bay.

It estimated that ---$3.7 billion--- in direct funding was provided to restore the Bay from 1995 through 2004. An additional ---$1.9 billion -----in indirect funding was also provided for activities that affect the restoration effort.

The direct funding came from 11 key federal agencies, the states of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and the District of Columbia. The states typically provide 75 percent of the direct funding.

Also, funding has grown over the years, from----- $148.6 million-- in total direct funding in 1995 to ----$486.6 million----2004. Funding peaked in 2002 at -----$558.2 million.----

The indirect funding was split more or less equally between federal and state governments. It includes programs that help the Bay cleanup, but would provide funding regardless of the Chesapeake Bay commitments.

These include many farm programs that pay farmers to implement practices that reduce runoff. Most of Pennsylvania's funding was indirect because, although many programs supported Bay goals, they were not the programs' primary purpose.

Indirect funding has also increased over the years, from ----$131.6 million ----in 1995 to -----$343.2 million in 2004

-------Scotty, In the many years I've worked the waters of the Chesapeake, I've seen no drastic changes ---Except for horrible devestation Agnus presented to us in 72----I felt good when the ajoining states Banned phosphates in detergents, Felt good when Big ships stopped flushing thier bilges, & throwing garbage & trash overboard ---Felt good when Boats Large & small started using Plastic bags to collect trash & dumped it ashore---Felt good when sanatation devices became law--Felt good when boaters stopped draining thier oil in bilges, mixing with soap & pumping it overboard---Felt good when I helped re seed grass beds----

---All of a Sudden, the States & Federal government, discovered the Chesapeake, Funds became a good P R tool---Some for you & Some for you & yeh, why not?, some for me---So pray tell, Where did 5.6 BILLION DOLLARS go or do to better the Bay----Come on , Someone TELL me where it went--It sure didn't do much according to all the GLOOM & DOOM I read about every day---
----Scotty, you ask about CBF, I'ts difficult for me to comment, I was a funding supporter, untill they got into testifing on fishery issues that pertained to size limits & seasons--I felt that was a relm best handled by Fishery managers---
----Its a deep & serious problem & the subject alone speaks for itself ---Surely GAO A very lienient auditor, wouldn't be so critical if it wasen't so-----
-----The only funds I heard of being used WISLEY was the Million or so spent on the Asian Oyster expermential reef, that the Cow Nose Rays ate up in a 2 day feeding spree , at least they tried ----OH WELL--
[shy]
 

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Capt. George and Other Anglers--

Here's where that $5.6 billion went--to stabilize the patient. Remember that over the past 25 years, the population of the Chesapeake watershed has grown by about 18%, from 13.5 million of us to 16 million, and it's increasing at about 100,000 people per year, mostly from people moving in.

George, you know how much Anne Arundel County has grown over that period. Now even your native Massaponax is growing. Stafford and Spotsylvania are two of the twenty fastest growing counties in the U.S. (BTW, Loudoun is first.) That $5.6 billion is what it has taken just to stay even (and actually improve just a little, according to CBF's State of the Bay Report, though we're still scoring it at only 27, which is a failing grade in any school).

Eric Smith loves to pontificate about wasted $ in The Capital, but he never mentions that all Bay restoration programs swim against a heavy current. Remember that old quote from Pogo, the comic strip possum--"We have met the enemy, and he is us."

We--all of us--leave a HEAVY footprint on the Bay ecosystem, from nitrogen and phosphorus every time we flush and sediment that comes from from construction projects to ag runoff from farms that aren't making money because we insist on cheap food and from exhaust emissions from our tailpipes. Got any idea how much nitrogen will wash off I-66 in Northern VA with tomorrow's slush and rain?

Yes, the GAO Report shows that the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program should be more focused on coordinated implementation of those restoration programs (CBF, by the way, was one of the organizations that pushed for the study). Though we still have much to learn about the Bay (yes, it's that complex), the science the Bay Program has sponsored over the past twenty years has given us a world-class blueprint to make real change.

Now they need to help put that science to work, to join us (CBF) and fishermen's organizations like MSSA, CCA, the Charterboat Associations, and the Ches. Guides Association in pushing the cleanup forward (which the Bay Program has been reticent to do lately). We know how to treat sewage well (there are already a few star-quality plants, like Piscataway on the Potomac), and we're learning a lot about cost-effective ways to deal with farm runoff.

Maryland's flush fee and the dedicated funds VA Gov. Warner has just put into his budget for sewage treatment upgrades are large enough to start making a difference over the next five years. (We'll be watching closely to make sure that $ gets spent well.)

Next the big challenge will be agriculture, which will require not just enforcement (sorry, Tom) but assistance with conservation programs, especially on family farms. Watch for a lot of action in both the VA & MD General Assembly sessions in '06. In fact, don't just watch--get involved, and informed. Visit www.getdedicated.org to learn how. It's free.

Legislators really listen to fishermen, as we have found out over the past two years. By the way, there's a lot going on in Pennsylvania too, though that's an even tougher fight. But the Susquehanna had a big smallmouth kill this summer, so folks like Bob Clouser are hopping mad and searching (with our Harrisburg Office) for solutions. I'm spending a lot of my time up there, helping.

Sorry to get onto a soap box, but Eric Smith's column really set me off. He's not in the trenches of this fight, and he doesn't know the whole story--by a long shot.

We don't have to live with dead zones. We CAN save this Bay. The tide is starting to change. Now's the time to push harder than ever.

Best regards to you all for caring enough to post,
Capt. John Page Williams
CBF Senior Naturalist &
Chesapeake Bay Magazine Fishing Columnist
 

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Discussion Starter #9
[q] Eric Smith loves to pontificate about wasted $ in The Capital, but he never mentions that all Bay restoration programs swim against a heavy current. Remember that old quote from Pogo, the comic strip possum--"We have met the enemy, and he is us."
[/q]

------John Page, Thanks for jumping in, You & others must know how I feel about the sad state of the Chesapeake---On one hand I hope that all the funds that have been thown it's way IS DOING SOME GOOD---Then again we must relize that Eric's column is not based on HIS findings, but based on a Government report----& as I said , GAO is at the most a Wrist Slap, a Tiger w/o teeth---There are no penalties, assocaited with thier reports ----Where else could 5.6 BILLION dollars be spent W/O some visiable gain----I have to salute you & others like you for your never ending Crusade for a better bay, but as an outsider of the system ,I would think your frustrations must be monsterous-----

----Flush tax, hopefully will used with speed, with results
----Farmer substudies, for planting cover crops---probably will have few takers---
----What the bay needs right now is ACTION,some leadership from men with a Devil may Care additude---Doers, not talkers,--Like the builders of houses on islands, & expanders of marnia's
who Do it , at least it gets done----
----Scotty, says it took 100 years for this to evlove, & we can't fix it in 25----I dissagree, we need a 9-11 mentality---
---Then again the Chesapeake is only a drop in the bucket in domestic & world affairs----OH WELL----[sad]
 

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Discussion Starter #10
---Richmond, Va.---
---Gov. Warner proposed yesterday to spend 200 MILLION to cut pollution & improve the bay's watershead----The one time funds are part of a 242.5 MILLION water Quality package that Gov. Warner plans to interdouce before he leaves office in mid January

------Here's more, if it passes---[wink]
 

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Great post by JP. One thing I would like to add is that A significant amount of money is also spent on educating youth and the public. I have to agree that it is a very complex issue with no easy answers. Maybe my location at the head of the Bay gives me some incite others don't see. The amount of silt and debry that comes down the Susky and Elk is mind boggling. But this summer we could see the bottom in 6+ feet of water due to the drought. I can only imagine how much better it was 100 years ago.
Thanks for the links Capt Mike. My problem with the report is that it is virtually impossible to go up river into PA and just correct the problem. How do you do this ? Go to every farm in PA & NY and say , ' ah farmer Joe you need to stop your runoff tomorrow, OK ? ' And go to Towns starting with Elkton and say your sewer treatment plant is out of code and needs updating to the tune of x million. It is very easy for a bunch of people sitting behind desks, in hind site, to criticize.
I'm sure you all have seen in your local papers the revolt against the flush tax. This is a prime example of the obstacles that are faced. Residents of MD 'say' they want a cleaner bay but when they have to buck up $2.50 per month they scream bloody murder !
[q]Scotty, says it took 100 years for this to evlove, & we can't fix it in 25----I dissagree, we need a 9-11 mentality---
[/q]
Capt George, I hope you prove me wrong !!!
 

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Scotty
Ive actually been at it for 25 years and there are sadly more years to go till we just arest the problem, how many, certainly no one knows.

JP, I said essentially the same thing in another post on the Ches Board. Capt George and other users of the resource know how bad the pollution problem is, Sadly, non users really dont, many dont care. Therein lies some of the dilemma for costs and payees of clean-up.

Put another way 100s of billions of dollars have been spent in one way or another to support pollution of the Bay's watershed over the past 100 years. How much will take to fix it, now that is the 100 billion dollar question. As I said previously, Capt George, J P , Mike, Scotty, and myself are willing to shell out extra for the clean-up. Convincing everyone else is where people like JP and Capt George come in, because in the end it is about education.

Capt George, in my most humble opinion, the way to get a quicker clean-up is thru the use filter feeders. To stop runoff pollution, air pollution dead in it's tracks is a pipe dream, and as JP said, population explosions in the watershed make the task that much more difficult. But as I said in the other thread, DONT stop complaining. Keep up the threads, ask the questions, and demand more, because in the end, the Bay constantly reminds us of it's problems, and demands our attention.
 

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[Q]J.P. Williams originally wrote:
Maryland's flush fee and the dedicated funds VA Gov. Warner has just put into his budget for sewage treatment upgrades are large enough to start making a difference over the next five years. (We'll be watching closely to make sure that $ gets spent well.)[/Q]

Capt John,

I am one who is very interested in seeing if the flush tax (Sorry Capt, it's NOT a fee. It is a tax.) is actually used to correct and upgrade sewer systems. Will the money collected go toward fixing the pipe break and spill in Mill Creek on the Magothy? Will it actually go towards other sewer upgrades as promised? I have my doubts...

Is there accountability anywhere to let us know what the tax collected, under the guise of the "flush fee", will be used for?

I, for one... want to know.
 

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Kevin
I know for certain that it(flush tax) is going to upgrade WWTPs to ENR or Enhanced Nutrient Removal. The Facility's are prioritorized based on need.

As far as collection systems issues, the State, EPA, and Justice Dept have negotiated consent orders to upgrade (in some cases) 100 year old collection systems, in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and WSSC(Collection services in PG/Montgomery Co). AA Co's collection system is much newer. Broken force mains are not easy to predict until, unfortunately the break occurs. The main issue is to have contingency plans in place to hurry a pump around to minimize raw sewage impact to receiving waters. Some were really bad in the past like Cattail Creek's force main break a number of years ago. Because AA Co has a flat topography, much of the collection consists of pump stations, unlike surrounding hillier jurisdictions, that use gravity and large interceptors.

The EPA oversees Md's delegation of the Clean Water Act, however, there are other forms of oversight like 3rd party Enviro groups, thru FOIA. As always the public is the ultimate oversighter, and should demand accountability of it's enviro regulators. Hope that helps.
 

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[Q]Capt Frank originally wrote:
... As always the public is the ultimate oversighter, and should demand accountability of it's enviro regulators. Hope that helps.
[/Q]

It does. Thanks for taking the time to explain. [wink]
 

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Gentlemen--

As usual, Capt. Frank and Scotty are right on the button. The flush whatever-it-is has built-in accountability. We should still watch to make sure it works, and we should cheer when it does. The best of the wastewater folks should be heroes to us TF'ers.

As to non-anglers, Frank's right again. They need to understand ALL of the benefits of clean water. Our public opinion research shows that most voters do. The catch is to use that information well. It worked for CBF in VA last year and will again in '06. We're putting it to work in PA too, even as we build a stronger network of concerned anglers up there.

Meanwhile, the next big issue will be agriculture. Watch for a package of legislation for Maryland in January (both assistance to farmers and accountability).

Merry Christmas to you all. Thanks for caring about this stuff. Three cheers for Capt. Frank for all the effort he has invested in it over the past thirty-some years. Here's to a healthier Bay in '06 and beyond.

Best regards, JPW
 

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Nobody wanted to talk about exploitation...?

We can take a hundred different angles on this issue and all be correct to some extent, but the GAO is still making a very lucid point about goals. We can keep studying the bay ad infinitum and we sure can find ways to spend money, but without clearly defined goals, specific delineation of duties and responsibilities, and meaningful accountibility of progress toward goals, "saving the bay" will remain more about making political hay than about saving the bay. Currently we are not saving the bay. Currently we are exploiting the bay. We are unsustainably harvesting maximum amount of protein from the bay, and replacing it with sewage, nutrient laden runoff and way too many unburned hydrocarbons. As long as that's the paradigm, further studies are not really needed. Frankly, as a society we have been wasting bigtime tax revenue on studies upon studies that haven't solved any problems. The only thing we can say for sure is that as long as we do what we did, we're gonna get what we got. What we need to do now is apply maximum revenue toward maintenance and upgrade of WWTPs, and other innovative ways to deal with storm and waste water remediation. Unfortunately, nothing is simple. A seemingly good idea like the "flush tax" is a wolf in sheeps clothing. Developers and their elected officials (who cherish economic growth) want people who already pay to flush to pay more per flush so developers can hook up for less. No thanks. We need to face the reality that more development will not save the bay, and in that light its time to curtail development with steeper impact fees for all development, similar to waterfront. This kind of strategy is radical and guarantees political opposition, but necessary if we're really serious about saving the bay. On that note, I have to say, I don't think we're serious about saving the bay. We've been saving the bay my whole life, and the bay is worse not better.
 

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Hey matt
I was with ya until you went for the flush tax. It only goes for ENR, not facility expansion, or additional connections by developers. Now if you want to say that developers have not paid substantially over the years into the pie to upgrade WWTPs, or for sewer system upgrades, thus possibly leading to the flush tax, Im with ya.
 
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