Get unlimited digital access to $0.99 for 4 weeks.
Lifestyle B'More Green

Environmental group questions farm pollution reductions

Federal environmental officials may be overestimating farm pollution reductions in the Chesapeake Bay, contends a Washington environmental group, which also finds that phosphorus and algae concentrations in rivers on Maryland's Eastern Shore have shown no real improvement over the last decade

Those are the conclusions of a pair of reports released Monday by the Environmental Integrity Project.

State monitoring data showed no reduction in phosphorus levels in eight waterways on the Shore from 2003 to 2013, while concentrations actually worsened in three rivers: the Nanticoke, the Sassafras, and the Transquaking.

Despite efforts of farmers, EPA and state agencies to curtail polluted runoff from fields, winter cover crops and other “best management practices” may not be working as well as intended, the group contended. Neither the states nor EPA monitor streams next to farms enough to determine how well these strategies are really working, according to Abel Russ, author of one of the reports. It recommends more and better monitoring, especially in water ways surrounded by farmland.

The reports echo in part a recent analysis by the U.S. Geological Survey, which found that phosphorus levels measured farther upstream in most major bay tributaries have shown no improvement in the past decade, and some have gotten worse.

But Scott Phillilps, bay coordinator for the geological survey, said while the data suggest a lack of progress it's not clear that's the case. Meanwhile, he cautioned that increasing stream monitoring to study effectiveness of farm runoff controls may not be enough, because variability in soils and other characteristics may prevent generalizations.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Bald eagles fight, tangle — and fall out of the sky
    Bald eagles fight, tangle — and fall out of the sky

    Sam Longfellow spotted a furious cluster of gray and white feathers shrieking high in a tree outside his home in Southern Maryland.

  • Baltimore-born Ta-Nehisi Coates makes his case
    Baltimore-born Ta-Nehisi Coates makes his case

    The award-winning writer of the controversial 'Case for Reparations' traces his history to strong family roots in West Baltimore as he promotes an open discussion of race relations in modern-day America.

  • Maryland weddings
    Maryland weddings

    Browse photos of recent Maryland weddings -- from traditional church ceremonies to quirky, Baltimore-themed celebrations. To read more about each couple's story, go to Just wedded? Email your wedding details to

  • Celebrating Carnival around the world
    Celebrating Carnival around the world

    Carnival season technically begins on Jan. 6, also known as Twelfth Night and runs through Mardi Gras, which falls on Feb. 17, 2015, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Big celebrations around the world usually occur in those final two weeks, but some happen earlier.

  • Adoptable pets at Baltimore-area shelters
    Adoptable pets at Baltimore-area shelters

    Here's a collection of a few of the dogs, cats and other critters in the Baltimore area who need homes. Be sure to check with the shelter before you go to verify that the animal you want is still there.

  • This Day in History: Jan. 29
    This Day in History: Jan. 29

    In 1845, Edgar Allan Poe's poem 'The Raven' was first published in the New York Evening Mirror.