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Thanks to Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert, Prince George’s) for his Feb. 20 letter to The Calvert Recorder [“Lawmakers will keep working to improve environment”] providing his view of the Chesapeake Bay. It is easy to agree that “having a healthy bay and clean environment produces better crops and a better farming environment.” Would it not have been helpful for that letter to put into context the relationship among various items mentioned in the letter?

Of interest are four items mentioned in the letter: Chesapeake Bay, wastewater treatment plants, septic systems and the Conowingo Dam.

The state focuses upon septic tanks in the rural areas, whereas the contribution of nitrogen and solids into the Chesapeake Bay, if at all, is minimal. State central planners completely ignore the vast areas of impervious surfaces in large urban areas, such as Baltimore City, and ignore the large amount of effluent that gets dumped into the water streams by large wastewater treatment centers. Anybody measure the water quality of the Inner Harbor or Anacostia River lately?

The state central planners ignore the overwhelming amount of debris that enters the bay from the Conowingo Dam that spans Cecil and Harford county borders on the Susquehanna River. That debris is readily present as far south as the Potomac River (well south of us in Calvert County). I personally observed some of that debris last year from when Sept. 9, 2011, 44 flood gates were opened due to the impact of the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee.

In 1998, the U.S. Geological Service reported that the Conowingo, Holtwood and Safe Harbor dams further upstream may reach capacity before the year 2020 (just seven years away), no longer able to function to reduce the nutrient and sediment load hitting the bay.

It defies logic to force us to focus upon the minuscule amount of nitrogen present in our septic tanks while too little is done in areas further north of us that have far greater impact upon the quality of water of the Chesapeake Bay. It defies logic that state central planners continually pick on the farmers in this county as done with the Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act and those proposed tier maps.

However, one thing would make sense, if one were so politically inclined. To deflect focus of the state’s failure to properly influence water quality associated near dams and sewerage plants, the state would focus energy and efforts targeting rural areas, which use septic tanks. Sounds like simple deflection of responsibility to me.



Evan Slaughenhoupt (R), Dunkirk

The writer is a Calvert County commissioner.