BALTIMORE, MD (March 22, 2006) – Maryland’s Bay Restoration Fund is one of the most innovative, creative and results-oriented efforts in American government today and is cited as one of the Top 50 Government Innovations for 2006.
That is according to the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, which today announced—in cooperation with the Council for Excellence in Government—the Top 50 Government Innovations for 2006. Maryland’s Bay Restoration Fund is now an official semifinalist for the prestigious Innovations in American Government Award—often referred to as the “Oscars” of government prizes—and is eligible to win one of seven $100,000 grants.
“The goal of my Bay Restoration Fund is simple: restore the Chesapeake Bay to its rightful status as a great national treasure - one that future generations of Marylanders can both enjoy and protect,” said Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. “Through the Bay Restoration Fund, we are funding projects that are an essential part of our long-standing effort toward achieving Maryland’s Chesapeake 2000 Agreement commitment to reduce the amount of nutrients being discharged to the Bay from our state by 19.5 million pounds per year.”
“We are honored by this recognition and pleased that the Bay Restoration Fund is generating significant interest around the country,” said Maryland Department of Environment Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick. “Once again Maryland sets the trend in environmental policy. Though individuals can quibble about dollars and cents, no one can doubt the invaluable role the Bay plays in this state.”
The fund, enacted by Maryland in 2004, is the most innovative environmental legislation enacted by any Bay watershed jurisdiction in the past two decades and aims to remove nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater treatment plant effluent to state-of-the-art levels. Under the Bay Restoration Fund, all public sewer service customers pay a fee of $2.50 per month while On-Site Disposal System (OSDS) or septic system users pay $30 annually. The fee paid by sewage treatment plant users provides the funding necessary to upgrade the state’s 66 largest sewage treatment plants to achieve Enhanced Nutrient Removal, which is the most advanced wastewater treatment technology available. The fee paid by OSDS users funds OSDS upgrades and implementation of cover crop plantings to reduce nitrogen loading to the Bay. The fund will result in a 7.5 million pound annual reduction in nitrogen and a 260,000-pound annual reduction in phosphorus loading to Chesapeake Bay. Excess nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorus, lead to degraded water quality, which negatively impacts the ecology of the Bay and its tributaries.
One facility (Celanese, Allegany County) has completed construction, is fully upgraded and achieving ENR treatment levels. Construction of enhanced nutrient removal (ENR) is underway at seven wastewater treatment plants, design at 12 others and planning for 29 more.
The top 50 innovations, representing government at the federal, tribal, state, county and city levels, were selected for their novelty and creativity, effectiveness at addressing significant issues and problems, and ability to be replicated by other jurisdictions. They represent the nation’s very best government efforts in the areas of education and training, criminal justice and public safety, economic and community development, housing, health and social services, management, transportation, public works and environment.
Eighteen finalists will be chosen from the 50 and announced on May 4 during Public Service Recognition Week. The National Selection Committee on Innovation in American Government will select five winners, in addition to two special awards: the Annie E. Casey Foundation Innovations Award for Children and Family Services, and the Fannie Mae Foundation Award for Innovation in Affordable Housing. All seven winners will be announced on July 10 in Washington, DC.
The Innovations in American Government Award—now in its 19th year—is a program of the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. It is administered in partnership with the Council for Excellence in Government.
A list, description and contact information for the Top 50 Government Innovations for 2006 is available at www.ashinstitute.harvard.edu or www.excelgov.org. For more information about Maryland’s efforts to restore the Bay, visit mde.maryland.gov/programs/water/Pages/bayrestoration.aspx.