Become a digitalPLUS subscriber. 99¢ for 4 weeks.
News Opinion Readers Respond

Waterkeepers: Both urban and agricultural pollution are a problem

Bill Satterfield, in his June 11 letter to the editor ("Urban waste, not chicken manure, is the bay's biggest threat") was right when he said "everyone has a role in protecting the Chesapeake Bay." What he forgot is that "everyone" includes both the agricultural and urban sectors.

Instead of shifting blame from one polluter to the next, we should focus on addressing all the major contributors of pollution. Instead of focusing on which kid on the block is polluting more, we should focus on the glaring similarity between agricultural and urban sources: both contribute dangerous levels of nutrient, bacterial, and toxic pollution into our local waterways and the bay.

Another similarity between animal waste and human waste is that the public is outraged about both entering our waterways. Mr. Satterfield must have missed the coverage of this topic by The Sun. If he had, he would know that the Baltimore Harbor waterkeeper spoke out about the recent sewage spill and fish kills in the harbor and invested her time and resources in sampling and advocating for more aggressive action by state and local government, and in responding to a diverse set of citizen complaints on this issue. He obviously missed Baltimore Harbor waterkeeper's own letter to the editor, published only days before his, entitled "Harbor fish kills, odor not the norm" and one submitted by enraged Baltimore resident Gary Moyer entitled "Something stinks in cover-up of Inner Harbor odor."

Waterkeepers are not a single, top-down organization housed in New York, as erroneously portrayed by Mr. Satterfield. Rather, we are local, grassroots non-profit programs and organizations with nearly 200 individual advocates housed in watersheds throughout the United States and world. Those located in urban watersheds have consistently advocated against sewage and other urban waste. Those located in more agricultural watersheds consistently advocate for reduction of agricultural pollution.

Lastly, in his rush to point out the "stark contrast" between urban sewage pollution and agricultural waste, he forgot to mention the most obvious of contrasts: that the most recent EPA stats peg agricultural waste in Maryland with 41 percent of phosphorus pollution to the bay, compared to 26 percent from urban wastewater; and ag is responsible for 36 percent of nitrogen pollution, compared to 29 percent from urban wastewater. Both are huge problems, but if we're going to point out differences, we should at least get them right.

Kathy Phillips, Assateague Coastkeeper

Tina Meyers, Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper

Mike Bolinder, Anacostia Riverkeeper

David Foster, Chester Riverkeeper

Drew Koslow, Choptank Riverkeeper

Theaux LeGardeur, Gunpowder Riverkeeper

Michael Helfrich, Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper

Tom Leigh, Miles-Wye Riverkeeper

Fred Tutman, Patuxent Riverkeeper

Ed Merrifield, Potomac Riverkeeper

Pam Duke, executive director of Sassafras Riverkeeper

Fred Kelly, Severn Riverkeeper

Diana Muller, South Riverkeeper

Dave Burden, Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper

Chris Trumbauer, West/Rhode Riverkeeper

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • What about Pa. manure?
    What about Pa. manure?

    On an almost recurring basis lately, The Sun has devoted itself to bringing to everyone's attention the Eastern Shore poultry industry's polluted runoff flowing into the Chesapeake Bay ("Larry Hogan has a chance to be a green governor," Dec. 13). Attention should be directed to the Amish...

  • New rules needed to protect Eastern Shore waterways
    New rules needed to protect Eastern Shore waterways

    After talking about it for years, Maryland finally has proposed long-overdue regulations on phosphorous pollution from animal manure in the Chesapeake Bay ("Hogan vows to fight farm pollution rules," Dec. 8).

  • Big Ag must be held to account for bay pollution
    Big Ag must be held to account for bay pollution

    Dan Rodricks' arguments for protecting the Chesapeake Bay from pollution from chicken farms could have been even stronger ("Larry Hogan has a chance to be a green governor," Dec. 13).

  • Chicken industry threatens all other bay businesses
    Chicken industry threatens all other bay businesses

    Dan Rodricks' column on Gov.-elect Larry Hogan and the Chesapeake Bay missed an important fact: Mr. Hogan's pro-poultry industry comments and pledges are actually deeply hurtful to most Eastern Shore businesses ("Larry Hogan has a chance to be a green governor," Dec. 13).

  • Fix the Conowingo before another Hurricane Agnes hits [Letter]
    Fix the Conowingo before another Hurricane Agnes hits [Letter]

    I read with interest commentator Anirban Basu's article touting what a great asset the Conowingo dam is and how it enhances the lives of all Marylanders ("Support the dam to support Md.," Oct. 13).

  • How about aerators to clean up the bay?
    How about aerators to clean up the bay?

    I just read the article about dredging the Susquehanna River, and I couldn't help thinking back to the Seoul Olympics where they used aerators to clean up their filthy water and they got it clean enough that all of the rowing events were held in very safe water ("Study: Dredging little help...

  • Damming the bay's pollution
    Damming the bay's pollution

    Here's the gist of the recent report by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the Conowingo Dam: Don't confuse a red herring with a red tide. The notion that all the pollution woes of the Chesapeake Bay could be heaped on one 86-year-old hydroelectric facility on the Lower Susquehanna River was...

  • All Maryland's waterways deserve protection
    All Maryland's waterways deserve protection

    The Clean Water Act has brought progress to the Chesapeake Bay, but in order to continue the bay on the path to success we must protect all the waterways in Maryland, including the Anacostia River ("Close Clean Water Act loophole," Nov. 12).

Comments
Loading