BALTIMORE, MD (April 8, 2010) – Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Shari T. Wilson issued this statement today about MDE’s Clean Water Act/National Pollution Discharge Elimination System program:
Despite acknowledged fiscal and resource constraints, Maryland has one of the best Clean Water Act programs in the nation -- this same program recently took several actions to improve water quality by reducing pollution from poultry litter and from stormwater runoff. MDE prioritizes our resources to actions that will most effectively and efficiently protect public health and restore water quality. Of the more than 110,000 entities that MDE regulates, the vast majority are in compliance with the law.
While for the most part accurately describing MDE’s funding constraints, and the large number of MDE cases awaiting administrative or civil action in the Attorney General’s Office, the Center for Progressive Reform’s report does not accurately reflect the significant changes and progress MDE has made over the past three years on enforcement issues.
MDE’s annual enforcement actions increased 44 percent from Fiscal Year 2007 to Fiscal Year 2009; this is a direct result of improvements made under this Administration. In 2007, to address overdue enforcement actions, MDE established a Standard Enforcement Procedure requiring that enforcement activity for significant violations begin within 90 days of the violation date. We created MDEStat to implement the new procedures and regularly review any overdue enforcement cases.
MDE does not block citizen suits but, rather, upon receipt notice of a citizen's notice of intent, evaluates the matter to determine whether state enforcement action is appropriate. MDE's response can range from filing an enforcement action, to filing an action and supporting citizen intervention, to taking no action. These decisions are based on the merits of the facts of each case.
An enforcement program is an important tool to enforce laws designed to protect public and the environment, but the large gains for cleaning up our waterways are made through advancements in requirements and technology. Examples of new technologies improvement includes advanced enhanced nutrient removal at wastewater treatment plants and scrubber technology for power plants. Examples of new requirements include the MS4 permit for Montgomery County and new rules controlling manure from poultry operations.
We hope that this report serves to complement the Agency’s own internal efforts to continually improve our enforcement program as well as to increase public understanding of and support for clean water.
To learn more about MDE’s Enforcement and Compliance Program, visit our website at: