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Volume 15, Issue 25 ~ June 21 - June 27, 2007


Taking Charge of Our Waters

Changing times are bringing new awareness of what we must do to protect our land and waters.

We’re seeing cities and states hasten to make up for the failure of our federal government to get serious about climate change.

In Maryland, a new state Commission on Climate Change is about to begin operating with the possibility of endorsing carbon limits, as California has.

At the local level, we’re also seeing people take responsibility for the environmental quality of their communities, land and water.

In Carrie Madren’s feature in this issue of Bay Weekly, “Micro-Monsters Lurk in Chesapeake Waters,” we read about the scary bacteria that threaten swimmers, skiers, watermen and other folks who get wet in the Bay. We also learn about the efforts of local Riverkeepers and community groups to more closely monitor their waters.

State and county governments in our region do regular testing, but concerned citizens and volunteers on the local level have begun testing more often to provide vital information to their neighbors.

This is an encouraging development for many reasons. As we read in Madren’s story, our warm summertime waters can incubate dangerous bacteria. That is especially the case along populous shorelines in the hottest of times, and worse still when hard rains wash accumulated pollutants into the water. In Madren’s story, we learn that what you can’t see can hurt you. Read about Merle Howard’s experience, and you’ll get the picture.

(Madren points out, by the way, that we’re not at risk from eating cooked Maryland seafood, because heat destroys the bacteria.)

Efforts by Riverkeepers like Drew Koslow on the South River and Bob Gallagher on the West and Rhode rivers, as well as by the Advocates for Herring Bay along the shores of Southern Anne Arundel County do more than measure bacteria: They involve people in a mission become vital as infections increase over the years.

Their work also calls attention to threats to the Bay and what we can do to reduce them — like fixing septics, speeding repair of sewage treatment plants and keeping wastes from dogs and other animals from entering our waters.

Thanks to our neighbors’ efforts, the Bay — and all of us — are better off.

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