BALTIMORE, MD (January 14, 2005) – Marylanders are invited to provide input on the guidelines that will lead to improved water quality in the Chesapeake Bay region in coming years. Maryland’s Department of the Environment (MDE) begins a series of meetings on the state’s new water quality standards next week.
“These standards are vital in our effort to preserve and restore the Chesapeake Bay and its irreplaceable resources,” said MDE Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick. “They are the basis of our water pollution control efforts and improve our ability to effectively regulate water quality in a scientifically defensible manner.”
The public information meeting dates and locations to make comment and ask questions about the standards are as follows:
January 20Maryland Department of the Environment, Montgomery Park Business Center, 1800 Washington Blvd., Baltimore, in the Aqua Conference Room [first floor of the building] from 10 a.m. to Noon and 6 to 8 p.m.
January 25Dorchester County Library, 303 Gay St., Cambridge, from 10 a.m. to Noon
January 26,Washington County Office Building, 100 W. Washington St. 2nd Floor, Room 227, Hagerstown, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
All interested persons are invited to attend and give their views. Any hearing impaired person may request an interpreter to be present by giving five working days notice to Deanna Miles-Brown, Regulations Coordinator at (410) 537-3173.
A complete version of the updated water quality standards can be accessed on MDE’s website at:mde.maryland.gov/programs/water/TMDL/WaterQualityStandards/Pages/index.aspx. The standards were recently published in the Maryland Register in two parts due to their length and complexity. The first part was published on Dec 27, 2004 while Part II was published Jan. 7. Comments for those parts published in the MD Register on Dec 27 will be taken until Feb 11. Comments for those parts published in the MD Register on Jan 7th will be taken until Feb 22.
In April 2003, EPA’s Bay Program completed a three-year process of developing the complex new water quality criteria for the Bay. The new water quality criteria were published by the U.S. Protection Agency EPA (EPA) last year to guide the development of enforceable water quality standards in the four Bay jurisdictions with tidal waters—Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia. The water quality criteria were developed for dissolved oxygen, water clarity, and chlorophyll a. While some standards will necessarily be more stringent than what exist today, others will be adjusted to appropriately lower levels — particularly for dissolved oxygen in deep waters.
The proposed Bay water quality standards consist of designated uses, and water quality criteria to protect those uses. A designated use refers to a water body's primary function – such as fishing or swimming – and takes into account the use of the water body for public water supply, the protection of fish, shellfish and wildlife, as well as its recreational, agricultural, industrial and navigational purposes. The suitability of the water body for these uses is also examined based on the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of the water body, its geographic setting, scenic qualities, and economic considerations.
State water quality standards are reviewed every three years per the federal Clean Water Act and updated as necessary to recognize the latest research science and technological advancements.
For more information contact MDE’s Technical & Regulatory Services Administration at (800) 633-6101 ext. 3633.
1800 Washington Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21230