Municipalities could potentially have a new source of funding available to help them reduce pollution going into the Chesapeake Bay.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, announced Tuesday a $4 million initiative to provide financial and technical help to local governments that are helping restore the bay.
The program, called the Local Government Green Infrastructure Initiative, will make grants of up to $750,000 to governments working to reduce the total maximum daily loads (TMDL, as it is called) going into the bay, which Maryland and the federal government have increasingly mandated.
The minimum given for a grant will be $200,000.
Harford County Councilwoman Mary Ann Lisanti praised the initiative during Tuesday's council meeting, as well as in a press release sent out by the NFWF.
"Local government is an important driver, able to quickly turn policy into practice," Lisanti, the executive director of the Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway, said in the release.
Until recently, she was chair of the Chesapeake Bay Partnership's Local Government Advisory Committee.
"We are confident that by showcasing the good things that are happening in communities and neighborhoods that more people will be motivated to do their part," she said.
Grants will be awarded for environmentally-friendly capital improvements, road maintenance programs, floodplain management and other projects that produce measurable water quality improvements in local rivers and streams.
The EPA requires approximately 25 percent reductions in nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution. All the measures needed to reduce pollution in the bay are supposed to be in place by 2025.
Besides grant awards, local governments will be able to get technical help for specific challenges, including project design and stormwater and land use management.
Since 2000, the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund has offered $68.9 million in grants for more than 700 projects across the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
The goal of the fund is to accelerate local implementation of the most innovative, sustainable and cost-effective strategies for restoring and protecting water quality and vital habitats within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
For more information about the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund programs and grant opportunities, visit http://www.nfwf.org/chesapeake.