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Readers Respond
News Opinion Readers Respond

Increase in flush tax is necessary

I was pleased to read the Sun's recent editorial regarding the proposals to finance transportation construction projects and upgrade sewage treatment ("Tale of two tax plans," Oct. 30).

While it may come as a shock to hear in our current anti-tax, anti-government climate, this is one citizen who wholeheartedly supports an increase in Maryland's Bay Restoration Fund — which is an investment in our economy, in protecting public health, and in cleaning up our rivers and streams, and the Chesapeake Bay.

Since it was signed into law in 2004 by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., the Bay Restoration Fund (BRF) has clearly demonstrated that we can create jobs — local jobs that can't be outsourced — and also improve communities across the state by upgrading wastewater treatment plants and replacing aging water pipes and polluting septic systems. The fund creates jobs for skilled workers like engineers and surveyors, as well as construction and maintenance jobs. Additionally, these green infrastructure projects help cool cities like Baltimore with more trees, shade and less pavement thus creating a more vibrant and beautiful place to live, work and visit.

Increasing the Bay Restoration Fund will not only reduce pollution from sewage, it would also help to limit the fastest growing source of bay pollution: urban and suburban storm water runoff. Polluted waters take a toll on the state in many ways — sewage spills and beach closures, rivers unsafe for fishing, erosion and flooding, contaminated drinking water, and endangered aquatic life and the jobs that depend on that life.

In Baltimore, this investment will mean clean neighborhood streams you can wade in, and an Inner Harbor without trash and floating fish. Clean water is not a luxury. It helps generate millions of dollars for the state and small businesses alike through recreational fishing and boating, tourism, and property values to name a few.

I know I am not alone. Many other Marylanders want clean water and recognize all of the economic and social benefits clean water brings and support this effort. Governor O'Malley and Maryland legislators: Let's do what it takes to protect and clean up the bay and its rivers and streams.

Halle Van der Gaag, Baltimore

The writer is executive director of Blue Water Baltimore.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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