Chesapeake Conservancy Applauds the Passage of Maryland’s Whole Watershed Act

Annapolis, MD – Chesapeake Conservancy Executive Vice President of External Affairs Mark Conway issued this statement on the passage of Maryland’s Whole Watershed Act (SB 969/HB 1165):

“Protecting and restoring rivers and streams are essential to saving the Chesapeake Bay. Maryland’s Whole Watershed Act will prove to be a significant piece of legislation passed for the Bay. Chesapeake Conservancy is incredibly optimistic because we know this partnership and data-based approach will work. We’ve seen it work with our neighbors to the north, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

“Starting in 2019, partners in Pennsylvania, including local, state, and federal governments; conservation districts; nonprofits; universities; and others, envisioned a rapid stream delisting program to make the most of limited resources using high-resolution hydrography data.

“These partners are now working across 57 streams in seven Pennsylvania counties, and tangible results are on the horizon. The 2024 draft Integrated Water Quality Report shows the preliminary delisting of several streams designated as agriculturally impaired per section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act.

“Just four years later, it’s now possible to scale this method of success across the Bay watershed and address the concerns raised in the recent report from the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Science and Technical Advisory Committee, A Comprehensive Evaluation of System Response (CESR). Thanks to the Chesapeake Bay Program and a partnership with Chesapeake Conservancy and our Chesapeake Tributaries Initiative, improved hyper-resolution hydrography data will soon be available to all of the states in the watershed.

“The Whole Watershed Act models the rapid stream delisting strategy for Maryland, and it will significantly contribute to the scaling of behavioral change and practice adoption necessary to achieve our water quality goals. This is how we can save the Bay.

“Thank you to Senator Sarah Elfreth and Delegate Sara Love and the other cosponsors for their leadership and the Maryland legislature for their significant support of the Whole Watershed Act.”