April 20, 2023
Successful 2023 Legislative Session
After a busy 90 days, the 2023 legistlative session came to an end on April 11th. Arundel Rivers weighed in on almost 30 legislative bills this year that would better protect, preserve, and restore our local environment and waterways. A total of 11 bills that we supported made it to the Governor’s desk this year and three bills that we opposed did not move. Our greatest success was passing the SB471/HB607, a bill to better control sediment pollution from construction sites. Once signed into law, the bill will require the Department of the Environment to update their sediment control requirements for construction sites. This will take a step closer to building sediment controls that can handle the storms of today as opposed to those of decades ago. These updates won’t happen just once. Instead, the Department will now work with stakeholders, including watershed organizations such as Arundel Rivers, to develop new standards every five years moving forward so that the controls keep up with a changing climate. Finally, the bill gives Arundel Rivers Federation, other organizations, and citizens an opportunity to request a more thorough review of sediment control plans for large construction sites in sensitive areas like wetlands, floodplains, and the Critical Area.
This is a huge win for our rivers and communities and we’re grateful to the sponsors, Senator Sarah Elfreth and Delegate Sara Love, and to the many advocate groups that also supported the bill including Chesapeake Legal Alliance and Chesapeake Bay Foundation. In discussing the importance of the bill, Senator Elfreth noted that “This bill will protect our waterways by ensuring that controls on construction sites are built to keep pace with a changing climate and keep sediment on the land and out of the water.” Delegate Love also said that “the bill gives communities an opportunity to ask for enhanced pollution controls for sites near our most vulnerable waterways.” Sediment pollution is a top threat to our local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay, and this bill takes a great step towards addressing that threat.
In addition to SB471/HB607, Arundel Rivers also supported a number of passed bills that:
-prioritize land conservation and native species: HB723/SB526 Forest Preservation and Retention, SB470 Maryland the Beautiful Act, HB503/SB923 Greenspace Equity Act, HB950/SB836 Maryland Native Plants Program, and HB62/SB62 Pollinator Friendly Vegetation Management
– support oyster restoration and the aquaculture industry: SB434/HB1254 Restorative Aquaculture Pilot Program,
– enhance environmental enforcement and monitoring efforts: HB874/SB611 Environment and Natural Resources Monitoring Unit,
– provide stronger regulations that better protect our groundwater: HB30/SB7 Septic Board Bill and HB11/SB483 Private Well Safety Act,
– and address upcoming threats to local water quality and human health: HB319/SB158 PFAs Testing Study Bill.
Although a number of bills did not move forward, including bills that focus on increasing community and shoreline resiliency, addressing pollution sources, and better protecting natural resources such as submerged aquatic vegetation, Governor Moore’s administration has made a commitment to address these issues. Arundel Rivers looks forward to supporting this effort and is dedicated to protecting, preserving, and restoring the South, West and Rhode Rivers to achieve clean, fishable, and swimmable waterways for present and future generations.