Press Release

EASTON, MD (November 4, 2004) – Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. and Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick and others launched a new era in the Chesapeake Bay’s restoration in events on Maryland’s Eastern Shore today.

Governor Ehrlich and Secretary Philbrick joined Easton officials in a ceremony for the town’s new wastewater treatment facility, the first municipal plant to break ground since adoption of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Restoration Fund.

“I am deeply committed to preserving the Chesapeake Bay,” said Governor Ehrlich. “The goal of my Bay Restoration Fund is simple: restore the Chesapeake Bay to its rightful status as a great national treasure, one which generations of Marylanders can both enjoy and protect.”

The fund is the most innovative environmental legislation in the past two and a half decades, with the potential to remove nitrogen from wastewater treatment plant effluent to state-of-the-art levels. When all 66 major plants are upgraded with use of the fund, impact will be a 7.5 million pound annual reduction in nitrogen.

“With the Bay Restoration Fund, each household invests $2.50 a month in the Bay’s recovery, less than it costs to buy a daily newspaper for a week,” Secretary Philbrick said. “That small household contribution, plus prorated contributions from businesses, will allow us to invest a billion dollars to help restore a bay that repays us economically, culturally and recreationally.”

Hugh E. Grunden, president and CEO of Easton Utilities, said, "Easton has a long and distinguished history of deploying advanced technologies for the benefit of its citizens. Today's groundbreaking marks the beginning of another such effort. I am proud that this facility will serve Easton's needs for years to come while significantly reducing nitrogen and phosphorus, without generating an excess of sludge."

Robert C. Willey, the mayor of Easton, said, "For the Town of Easton, this is the real deal. This state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility marks a significant investment not only in the future of the town, but also in the health of the local waterways that the town of Easton is committed to."

In Grasonville, Governor Ehrlich announced the establishment of the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center (CBEC) at Horsehead Wetlands Center, the state’s first comprehensive bay restoration demonstration site. The 500-plus acre refuge on the Eastern Shore near Kent Narrows, owned by the Wildfowl Trust of North America, very nearly replicates the habitat, water quality and problems facing much of the bay.

Projects on site and their benefits will include:

  • Planting of cover crops and forest buffers to filter nutrients from runoff;
  • Installation of living shoreline control measures to prevent erosion and provide habitat for terrapins, nesting crabs, etc.;
  • Placement of oyster reefs to encourage population growth;
  • Planting of bay grasses to produce oxygen and provide habitat for juvenile fish and crabs;
  • Installing state-of-the-art septic systems and upgrading efficiency of a nearby wastewater treatment plant to reduce nutrients. Benchmarks of water quality data around the nearby plant pre- and post-upgrade and monitor improvements will also be established. This will be displayed in real-time at the site, as will the data from the restoration areas.

The demonstration projects will be managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and CBEC. Other project partners include The Conservation Fund, Chesapeake Bay Trust, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Oyster Recovery Partnership, Maryland Environmental Service and the Maryland Departments of Environment, Agriculture and Planning.