Permitting, policy, and land protection — local updates from Maryland and Virginia
With looming threats at the federal level, it's more important than ever that we carry on the clean water fight through local and state policies.
It's already been an exciting year for our Clean Water Advocacy program. We've been meeting with local elected leaders, working with our coalition partners, and engaging advocates like you to stand up, speak up, and show up for clean water.
Here are 4 exclusive updates on local policy efforts you'll only find here:
Montgomery County, Maryland
Montgomery County is in the process of updating an important permit that will determine how the county combats polluted runoff over the next five years.
As the local leader working on clean waters issues in the county, we’re leading the Stormwater Partners Network to advocate for clean water policy alongside local partners. Audubon Naturalist Society is the network’s vice chair.
This permit has the potential to set precedent throughout Maryland, and cement Montgomery County as a local and regional leader on clean water issues. It’s crucial that the language and policies laid out in the permit set strong standards for clean water.
We already have a success story to report!
The county is required to restore a percentage of its impervious surface to reduce polluted runoff and improve water quality in local streams and creeks. Thanks to the work of the Stormwater Partners Network and local advocates, at least 60 percent of the county’s future projects will be completed with nature-based solutions, like rain gardens, green streets, and porous pavements, which are better for the environment than traditional infrastructure practices.
Frederick County, Maryland
Upstream, fast-growing Frederick County, Maryland, is home to some of the most polluted waters in the state and is a critical battleground in the fight for a swimmable, fishable Potomac.
Our Clean Water Frederick coalition has teamed up with Clean Water Action, a grassroots advocacy organization, to canvass targeted neighborhoods and give local residents a voice in how they want their county to grow, so that clean streams and safe drinking water are priorities for the future.
We've also been working with the Smarter Growth Alliance in Frederick County to promote river-friendly land use policies and recently defeated two harmful land use bills that would have hurt local water quality.
In the coming months, thanks to a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, we’ll be hosting two workshops in Frederick County to educate homeowners about clean water issues and how they can improve water quality in local streams and creeks.
Stay tuned for another update on Frederick County in May or June.
Maryland General Assembly
Maryland is set to become one of the first states in the nation to pass a statewide fracking ban! The movement to ban fracking even gained a surprise supporter: Governor Hogan! It's a huge win for clean water and clean air.
The governor's 2016 veto of the Clean Energy Jobs Act was overridden in both the House and Senate. This bill will increase Maryland’s use of clean energy to 25 percent by 2020.
Our coalition is working to push the statewide styrofoam ban forward, and we’re awaiting a vote in the Senate.
Unfortunately, the sewage pollution and septic regulations bill was significantly weakened by the Senate, and is now with the House Environment and Transportation Committee. We’re hoping to remove some of these detrimental amendments to strengthen the bill.
Finally, we’ve seen some exciting developments on the Forest Conservation Act amendments. The amendments to this law (which is already on the books) would save more trees and strengthen the state’s goal of no net loss of forests. Lawmakers are currently working to align the House and Senate versions of the bill. We’re hopeful the strong language in the Senate version is upheld.
Virginia General Assembly
On the other side of the river, Virginia's forested lands in the headwaters provide the region's cleanest waters to the Potomac. To improve the health of the Potomac, it's crucial to protect these upstream lands.
As a member of the VIRGINIAforever coalition, we successfully defended the state's tax incentive for land preservation, the most effective tool Virginia has for protecting healthy lands and clean water. The recent proposal put forth in the Virginia General Assembly that would have reduced the amount of funding available for land conservation was tabled in subcommittee thanks to local advocacy efforts.
Unfortunately, much of the other clean water funding we supported, such as funding for agricultural best management practices, was cut. We’re continuing to engage Governor McAuliffe as he reviews these budget proposals.
In a win for the Potomac, state lawmakers and the governor agreed to a yearlong moratorium on coal ash permitting. Dominion Power will need to conduct further study on the impact of coal ash on local waters and possible alternatives to capping the coal ash ponds in place.
Become a clean water advocate in your community!
Local leaders need to hear from you. Help us strengthen local water protections and keep pollution out of local streams and drinking water sources. You can attend city or county council meetings, write to your state and local representatives, sign petitions, send emails, and make phone calls.
Can we count on you to take a stand?
Yes, you can count on me to speak up for clean water. Please email me alerts when I can take action.