Maryland took its first step to act on the new Chesapeake Bay agreement yesterday as 23 of the state's subdivisions signed their own version of the agreement and Gov. Parris N. Glendening announced a two-year, $12 million initiative to clean up some of the worst streams in the state.
The program will focus on urban streams and rivers, such as the Patapsco in Baltimore.
"For years, urban streams have been neglected," Glendening said during a signing ceremony on a promenade overlooking the South River. "Along with the water-quality benefits, these restoration projects will improve habitat in these streams for fish and other living resources, making them places where our children and their children can play and learn."
The local agreements commit the state and counties to work with tributary teams to clean and maintain damaged streams in the 64,000-square-mile bay watershed in Maryland. Garrett County is the only jurisdiction not participating.
The state is to pay $6 million - to be matched by local jurisdictions. About two-thirds of the money will go to urban and suburban areas, the rest to rural areas.
Chesapeake 2000, the agreement signed last week to guide restoration of Chesapeake Bay over the next 10 years, commits Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, the District of Columbia and the U.S. government to work with municipalities to restore bay tributaries.
The partnership agreements encourage local governments "to work together to develop plans and programs that will protect and preserve this region's most important natural resource, the Chesapeake Bay," Glendening said.
A state Department of Natural Resources study from 1995 to 1997 found that more than half of state streams rated poor or very poor for aquatic life and habitat, and that the more dense the nearby population, the worse the stream.
For example, in Montgomery County, the Lamberton Drive Tributary of the northwest branch of the Anacostia River has been eroding rapidly and is a major source of sediment in the Anacostia. The stream channel has 12-foot high banks, some of it covered with riprap to protect utilities and adjacent properties.
Montgomery County is to begin a restoration program this summer planting trees along stream banks and making the banks less steep to let the stream spread out and slow down to reduce the amount of sediment it carries.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.