Senators call for big federal funding boost
More than $90 million for Chesapeake Bay conservation and $440 million in drinking water subsidies is what eight US senators are asking for amid declining crab populations.
In a May 6 letter to the appropriations subcommittee on interior, environment and related agencies, nine programs aimed at bay conservation and clean water initiatives were set as targets for increased funding. .
Meaning. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA), Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-MD), Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY) signed the letter requesting funding from the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Our states are heavily invested in implementing a Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint designed to restore this national treasure. Continued federal partnership to support this complex regional effort is key to their success,” the letter reads.
As participating states in the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, the goal is to advance the restoration and protection of the bay’s watershed by improving water quality, l abundance of marine life, the expansion of protected lands and the implementation of solutions to climate change.
The requested funding would come in the 2023 federal fiscal year if approved.
The original 1983 agreement signed by Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania was limited because it was entirely voluntary, with the Chesapeake Bay program also coming the same year after an act of Congress strengthened the conservation agreement .
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“Under the agreement, the jurisdictions and federal agencies have voluntarily committed to working together to restore water quality in the Chesapeake Bay by 2025,” the letter reads. “We must maintain federal investment in the programs below to support state-led efforts and ensure their continued success.”
Among the initiatives highlighted are the Chesapeake Bay Program in which federal funds are used to coordinate science, research, modeling, monitoring, data collection and other complex interstate activities essential to support partner collaboration.
The recommendations include $91,000,000 for the Chesapeake Bay program, an increase of $3,000,000 above the adopted level.
From the amount provided, $20,500,000 is for Nutrient and Sediment Removal Grants and $25,500,000 is for Small Watershed Grants to control polluted runoff from urban, suburban and agricultural lands, and 22 $708,000 is for state implementation in the most effective basins.
There is also the Chesapeake WILD program which benefits key areas of the Chesapeake Bay tidal system and provides much-needed financial and technical assistance to ensure states are able to meet their commitments to improve health and habitat.
$15 million is the recommendation.
It is recommended that $189,999,000 be received for Non-Point Source Implementation Grants that help stop non-point source pollution in the bay.
Pollution Control Grants that help manage the National Pollutant Release Removal System would receive $251,538,000.
The U.S. Geological Survey’s Chesapeake Bay Program activities conduct watershed-scale research, assessments, monitoring, and modeling that help make informed management decisions to restore and protect the bay.
They are recommended to receive an increase to $17,150,000.
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The Chesapeake Bay Office of the National Park Service strives to increase public access to the ecological, cultural, and historic resources of the watershed region through multiple programs. They would receive $5,600,000.
The Conservation Technical Assistance Program works with land managers to prepare and implement conservation plans in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, sediments, and ensures that nutrient loads in the bay are directly reduced .
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Chesapeake Bay Office focuses on applied research and monitoring of fisheries and aquatic habitats; synthesis and analysis to describe and predict ecosystem processes in the bay. They would receive $14,100,000.
Finally, the National Sea Grant College Program does academic research on oyster disease, restoration, and human health risks; research on the biology, prevention and prediction of harmful algal blooms; research, education and extension services on coastal resilience and stormwater management; and academic research on sustainable aquaculture.
They would receive $176,000,000.
“We thank you for supporting this unique partnership with our respective states in an extraordinary effort to restore a national treasure for generations,” the letter reads.