11:44 AM EDT, October 30, 2013
The Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort got a $9.2 million injection of funds Wednesday, as the Environmental Protection Agency and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced grants to 40 projects to reduce storm-water and farm pollution, rebuild oyster reefs and restore trout streams and other habitats across the six-state watershed.
More than $2 million is going to projects in Maryland, including nearly $250,000 to the local environmental group Blue Water Baltimore to "engage" churches and other religious groups in the city on how they can reduce their storm-water fees. Churches and other nonprofits in the city and across Maryland have protested the fees - which for those with large parking lots and buildings could be substantial - prompting politicians to seek to reduce the fees or even repeal the state law requiring they be levied.
A $430,000 grant also went to the Oyster Recovery Partnership to aid the state- and federally funded effort to restore oyster reefs in Harris Creek on the Eastern Shore. The $29 million project in the Choptank River tributary is the opening salvo in what officials have said would be a long-term reef restoration campaign in a series of bay water ways.
The Center for Urban Environmental Research and Education at the University of Maryland Baltimore County got nearly $324,000 to continue work on "green infrastructure" projects aimed at reducing storm-water pollution. The center's work has focused on rain-absorbing pervious concrete and "subsoiling" or deep tilling of urban landscapes to allow more rain to soak into the ground rather than run off into nearby streams.
Funding for the grants, announced in Washington, came from the EPA and the fish and wildlife foundation, which gets its funding from federal agencies, from business donations and from penalties or settlements paid by businesses, landowners and individuals for environmental violations.
For a full list of the grants, go here.
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