Our Riverkeeper actively patrols our rivers and calls in the appropriate enforcement arm for individual pollution incidents, like clear cutting, sediment plumes from improper construction practices, abandoned boats, or illegal discharges/dumping. The Federation heavily depends on our supporters for their eyes and ears about threats to river health. Remember, most incidents happen significantly upstream of tidal waters, where only local community members would see it.
Keeping an Eye on the Enforcers
Anne Arundel County has a reputation for being one of the most environmentally progressive counties in the nation. However, it was hard for our Riverkeeper to ground truth this assertion since the enforcement cases were not available to the public. After numerous requests using the Public Information Act, our Riverkeeper was able to perform an audit of the County’s enforcement efforts. Of all the enforcement violations, there are over 600 a year, only 10% end up with an enforcement action. See the audit here.
Each year the Riverkeeper tracks several environmental legislative bills at the city, county, state, and federal level and testifies for or against various bills. The bills cover a large range of issues that relate to the health of our rivers including bills about sewer, septic, stormwater, development, discharge and dumping, oysters, and abandoned boats.
Our 2022 advocacy efforts focus on a variety of bills that will help protect our rivers. There is potential legislation on oysters, invasive plants, banning restaurants from using plastic utensils and straws, as well as ending “zombie permits” that allows for unregulated pollutant discharges.
House Bill 135 provides that after January 1, 2023, a food service business may not provide containers, utensils, straws, lids, lid stoppers, stirrers made with plastic or paper w/ plastic coating. Violations of this bill will carry penalties of $500 for a first offense and escalate to $1000 and $2000 for subsequent offenses. The bill also provides exceptions for people with a medical need for drinking straws.
Senate Bill 7 (HB15) initiated by Delegate Dana Jones and Senator Sarah Elfreth would require the Department of Agriculture to identify invasive plants as tier 1 or 2 invasives, depending on the danger the plants pose to the environment. Once classified, the bill prohibits use of invasive plants in outdoor applications by state or state-funded entities.
Recent Advocacy Wins
The power of the Federation’s voice to influence legislation depends on the number of people who will contact their representative when we send out a call to action. We are grateful to all our supporters who have written or called their representatives, shown up for rallies or testimony, or signed petitions. Learn more about two recent wins. The Passing of the Styrofoam Ban and thePassing of the Forest Conservation Act
Our Riverkeeper works to help shape policy to ensure healthy waters for all residents to enjoy. There is a universe of regulatory administration that ensures the health and safety of citizens but can have major impacts on the health of our rivers. From MS4 permits, to the County’s General Development and Transportation plans, our Riverkeeper tracks the shifts in the regulatory landscape, providing official comments and testimony where necessary.