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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).

The water quality of rivers on the Eastern Shore continues to decline as fields containing excess chicken manure drain into our waterways.

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Eastern Shore families deserve clean, healthy waterways as much as other Marylanders. We have watched the state make tremendous progress cleaning up pollution from wastewater treatment plants, stormwater runoff and other urban and suburban sources. Rural Marylanders shouldn't have to put up with harmful algae blooms and unsafe rivers contaminated by manure pollution.

We will not be able to clean up our rivers without effectively limiting phosphorous pollution. Nobody said this would be easy, but the farm lobby outcry over the proposed regulations seems selfish. Does the industry feel that it has a special right to pollute natural resources that belong to all of us?

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The plan put forth by the Department of Agriculture includes many concessions to farmers, a very generous phase-in period (six years) and financial subsidies. While this plan is not perfect, it is our best and maybe final chance to save our rivers. We can and must do this.

The new phosphorous management tool is science-based, and experts say it could represent the biggest opportunity to clean up the Chesapeake Bay in 30 years. We can't let this opportunity slip away.

Let's stop bickering and work together to implement this new rule that will protect our families, communities and rivers from pollution.

Jeffrey Horstman

The writer is the Miles and Wye riverkeeper for the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy.


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