Wednesday, July 15, 2009

You Can Make A Difference in the Environment - Help Restore the Bay


Once upon a time, about 375 years ago, the first colonists to arrive in Maryland sailed up the Potomac River and came to St. Clements Island and Huron Island right beside it and there they watched in amazement as hundreds of magnificent Blue Huron arose in flight at the intrusion of the settlers.

The islands were covered with marsh grass and surrounded by pristine beaches with wildlife as far as the eye could see. At this point in the Potomac the River is over 7 miles wide, just before reaching the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

Today much of St. Clements Island has disappeared while Huron Island remains underwater except in extremely low tide. The Blue Huron still remain but in greatly reduced numbers. Civilization still is limited in this magnificent wetlands but upriver the ravages of civilization floating downstream have nearly wiped out the marshes, the oyster beds, the crabs and clams.

The government, state and federal, have realized the danger of this environment disaster and have spent nearly $6 billion trying to restore the watershed to the Chesapeake Bay but so far little has been achieved. Still it is not too late to atone for our prior environmental mistakes.

Some citizens of Coltons Point have enrolled in the Maryland Bay Restoration program to begin the long process of cleaning up the Bay and restoring the incredible environmental and ecological balance that was long neglected. Even if you have a working septic system it is still destroying the waterways with nitrogen discharges.

The Bay Restoration program is a state grant program to upgrade septic systems in the Chesapeake watershed with environmentally friendly nitrogen reduction systems, a move that will directly contribute to restoring the wetlands and water life that was once so abundant that it supplied much of the fish, crab, oysters and clams consumed on the east coast.

The cost to the home owner is negligible, the value to the future is beyond measurement. It is one of the steps needed to bring back the ecological balance of the Bay area by reducing the pollution from septic systems, not only the bacteria but the excessive nitrogen which destroys the natural environment.

New environmental systems now in use in Coltons Point have recorded a 92% reduction in nitrogen discharges into the river and Bay, an astonishing number when the goal of the program was a 50% reduction. Nearly 100% of the cost is paid by the Bay Restoration program and the Southern Maryland counties are competing for the grant funds.

So far St. Mary's County is far behind Calvert and Charles Counties in participating in this program which is a travesty as any money not used in St. Mary's goes to the other counties. One of few government programs that is a direct benefit to the people and the environment and a program that will greatly impact on the legacy we leave for future generations, the County must do far more to support the citizens and make sure St. Mary's people get their fair share of the funds.

However, you need not wait for the creaky wheels of county government to turn, for you can directly apply to the state for participation and we urge everyone to try, as everyone benefits from restoring the Chesapeake Bay. Be a responsible citizen. You can make a difference. Contact the state at the following site and apply for participation. Email is far faster than phone calls. If you need help you can call one of the approved contractors by calling:

Joe Gonzales or Peggy O'Brien
Concepts in Building, Inc.
Phone 410-326-6262

The official state online application site is as follows:

Maryland Department of the Environment
Bay Restoration Site:

Stand up and do your part to clean up our wetlands and restore nature.

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