Before COVID, CEPA sponsored periodic public forums on important environmental topics. The objective was to select a timely subject and to present it in depth. Too often newspapers and other media present only part of an issue, and then tell us brief opinions of various politicians or experts. We invited established authorities capable of discussing the subject in depth, and usually had more than one speaker to get different perspectives. Due to technology changes associated with COVID, CEPA is now considering presenting webinars.
- 2019 Forum – “The Future of Sustainable Water Supply in Anne Arundel County and Southern Maryland”
- 2016 Forum – “The Unsustainable Spiral of Growth”
- 2014 Forum – “About the Future Supply of Drinking Water in Maryland”
- 2013 Forum – “Healthy Bay, Healthy Fisheries?”
- 2011 Forum – “The Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) requirements for the Chesapeake watershed”
- 2010 Forum – “The Health of the Bay and You”
- 2009 Forum – “Stream Restoration”
- 2008 Forum – “Groundwater”
The Future of Sustainable Water Supply in Anne Arundel County and Southern Maryland
About the Forum
Read a short description of the CEPA 2019 Forum by clicking here.
The Forum took place on Friday, May 10 at 7:00 – 9:00 PM in the Center for Applied Learning and Technology (CALT), at Anne Arundel Community College.
It described how Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) can address three important issues:
- Aquifer sustainability
- Aquifer saltwater intrusion
- Meeting mandated Bay TMDLs
CEPA President, Al Tucker, introduced the program with a short presentation describing CEPA’s continuing concern with water availability in Anne Arundel County (AAC) and discussed, in more detail, the objectives of the Forum.
Featured Speakers and Presentations
- Al Tucker, President of CEPA (His presentation, The Future of Sustainable Water Supply in Anne Arundel County and Southern Maryland, can be found by clicking here)
- Chris Phipps, Anne Arundel County Director of Public Works (His presentation, CEPA Groundwater Forum Anne Arundel County Integrated Planning, can be found by clicking here)
- Ted Henefin, Hampton Roads, Virginia, Sanitary District (His presentation, One Initiative – Many Benefits, can be found by clicking here)
- Mark Williams and J. P. Stokes, Earth Data (Their presentation, Studies for Sustainable Water Supply in Anne Arundel County, can be found by clicking here)
Curriculum Vitae of the speakers can be found by clicking here.
The Unsustainable Spiral of Growth
The Chesapeake region has experienced explosive growth since World War II.
- Increases in population and employment foster an expanded local economy. But, taxes and fees do not recover the cost of building infrastructure and services or their maintenance and eventual replacement. When those costs are realized local governments often look to additional new growth for revenues.
- Growth results in consumption of natural resources including productive farmland, clean water, animal habitat, forest, and open space.
- When revenues are not adequate to meet the total costs of growth, the burden is distributed to all residents in the form of additional payments, inadequate services, congested roads, and deteriorating quality of life.
- This self-driven spiral of growth is detrimental to all residents and is unsustainable.
About the Forum
On October 14, 2016, the 2016 CEPA Forum started with a short presentation on the Anne Arundel Community College, Environmental Center, the host for the CEPA Forum by Dr. Sally Hornor a Trustee of CEPA.
Dr. Al Tucker, President of CEPA, then gave a short introduction on the background of the Forum. It covered a wide range of topics in the Chesapeake region which included growth in true costs, planning procedures, financing methods, performance assessment, and some recent successes. A copy of his introduction can be found by clicking here. He then introduced the panel of experts:
- Dr. Gerrit Knapp, University of Maryland, National Center for Smart Growth, Research and Education
A copy of his presentation, Smart Growth in Maryland: Towards a New Paradigm, can be found by clicking here.
- Dr. Elliott Campbell, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Chesapeake and Coastal Services
A copy of his presentation, Impacts of Growth on Ecosystem Services, can be found by clicking here.
- Kimberly Brandt, Local Policy Director, 1000 Friends of Maryland
A copy of her presentation, Planning for a More Sustainable Future, can be found by clicking here.
A panel discussion followed the presentations moderated by Terence Smith. E. B. Fergurson III who was in the audience gave a summay of the papers and the discussion in the Capital Gazette. You can read a copy of it by clicking here.
About the Future Supply of Drinking Water in Maryland
Do you know where your drinking water comes from when you turn on the tap, or how clean and safe it is to drink? Do you think it will always be plentiful and safe for your children and grandchildren and generations to follow?
- Saeid Kasraei, Director, Water Supply Program, Maryland Department of the Environment
You can download Mr. Kasrei’s presentation here in pdf format – Issues and challenges of managing Maryland’s water
- David Bolton, Chief Hydrologist, Maryland Geological Survey
You can download Mr. Bolton’s presentation here in pdf format – Maryland’s Ground Water: What we know and don’t know, and what we need
- Dr. Al Tucker, President, Chesapeake Environmental Protection Association
You can download Dr. Tucker’s presentation here in pdf format – The Future Supply of Drinking Water In Maryland
About the Forum
On May 30, 2014, the Chesapeake Environmental Protection Association (CEPA) held its annual environmental forum. The Forum provides in-depth information and discussion on topics relevant to the Chesapeake Bay and the watershed region. The 2014 Forum provided a discussion on the Future Supply of Drinking Water in MAryland.
The forum was held at the Calvary United Methodist Church, 301 Rowe Blvd., Annapolis, MD
In Maryland the drinking water supply is drawn from both surface water and groundwater sources. Each is currently stressed as a sustainable, safe source. In the coastal plain, roughly east of I-95, water is drawn from groundwater by municipal wells or private wells, in about 50-50 proportion. Water levels in the confined aquifers that are being pumped are dropping by about two feet per year. The state has recently conducted a study of water age in the upper Patapsco aquifer. It was determined that the age of the water ranged from a few years old to over a million years old. This indicates that we are mining a natural resource that was deposited below the subsurface in the last ice age, and that the recharge mechanism is much slower than the rate of withdrawal. As we are forced to draw water from deeper aquifers the quality of the water declines. Increased levels of iron and other mineral compounds are encountered. Local concentrations of radium, radon, and arsenic are currently present is some areas. Lower aquifer levels means reduced hydrostatic pressure, and hydrostatic pressure keeps salt water from back-flowing into the source water supply. Aquifers on Kent Island, Annapolis Neck, and Ocean City now show signs of salt water intrusion.
Add to this picture two additional considerations:
- Maryland’s population is steadily growing; an additional 10% is expected by 2030
- Climate change is real and already affecting rain events, droughts, and water demand
Clean water is a necessity for all. It should be considered as a natural resource. The State should exercise the doctrine of public trust over water and manage it for quality and sustainability. As in such cases the public needs to be informed to provide oversight. Absent public involvement, decisions that will affect us all will be guided by special interests.
Healthy Bay, Healthy Fisheries?
Efforts to improve the water quality of the Bay are underway with restrictions on nutrients and sediments. But will the return to a healthy Bay result in a healthy fishery? Fisheries management will play an important role in this question. The forum explored the range of solutions that may be possible and the actions that are critical to achieve a solution for maintaining sustainable fisheries.
Dr. Tom Miller, Director, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, University of MD Center for Environmental Science, Solomons Island, MD. Download Dr. Miller’s presentation (pdf)
Dr. Raymond Najjar, Professor of Oceanography, Faculty member of the Earth System Science Center, The Pennsylvania State University; Member of the Science and Technology Advisory Committee of the Chesapeake Bay Program. Download Dr. Najjar’s presentation (pdf) – Implications of climate change for Chesapeake Bay fish and shellfish
Dr. Jana Davis, Executive Director, Chesapeake Bay Trust
NOTE: You can see the entire 2013 CEPA FORUM on YouTube by clicking on the link.
About the Forum
On April 20, 2013, the Chesapeake Environmental Protection Association (CEPA) held its annual environmental forum to provide in-depth information and discussion on topics relevant to the Chesapeake Bay and the watershed region. The forum provided an examination of the state of fisheries in the Bay and factors affecting fisheries management.
The forum was held at the Schmidt Conference Center, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), Edgewater, MD. Forum Flyer (PDF)
Efforts to improve the water quality of the Bay are underway with restrictions on nutrients and sediments. But will the return to a healthy Bay result in a healthy fishery? Fisheries management will play an important role in this question. The recent restriction on harvesting menhaden recognizes that they represent a keystone prey fish in the Bay’s food web. Their loss would contribute to the collapse of other fisheries as well. New stakeholders like environmentalists and sport fishermen have joined watermen and industrial fishing operators to back an ecosystem-based approach that considers the interdependencies of species interacting with the environmental conditions in the Bay. The question remains, are these actions sufficient to save existing fisheries? Or will an inexorable march of climate change present obstacles that need to be anticipated? Stakeholders will have to work together to explore solutions to these issues.
The forum explored the range of solutions that may be possible and the actions that are critical to achieve a solution for maintaining sustainable fisheries. The audience heard how and why the Bay system is changing, what are its environmental trajectories, what management practices are likely to be successful, and what are reasonable and achievable forward visions for Bay fisheries.
Dr. Tom Miller is a professor in fisheries at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. Tom was initially appointed to the CBL faculty in 1994 following four years post-doctoral training at McGill University where he worked on ecology and reproductive dynamics of Atlantic cod off Nova Scotia. During his career, his work has varied from studies of fish early life history in the northwest Atlantic and Lake Michigan to the role of small-scale turbulence in regulating feeding in planktonic organisms to the role of adult movement in regulating the population dynamics of skates. Since 1997, Tom and his research group have conducted a considerable amount of research on the dynamics of blue crab from New York to Florida. Since 2001 he has lead efforts to develop a sustainable approach to the management of blue crab in Chesapeake Bay. Most recently, his research has focused on both recruitment issues in menhaden and striped bass and stakeholder involvement in recreational fisheries. His work has been funded by a diverse array of agencies including NSF, NOAA, EPA, Maryland Sea Grant and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
Dr. Miller serves on National Research Council’s Panel on the water use in the San Francisco Bay and Delta and on its Bay Delta Conservation Plan review committee. He also serves on Scientific and Management Committees for the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and Potomac River Fisheries Commission. Dr. Miller has been the recipient of the President’s Award for the Application of Science at UMCES. He and his students have won several best paper awards at regional and national meetings. He teaches courses on population dynamics, fisheries ecology, and quantitative methods, and is a two-time recipient of the Graduate Education Award for excellence in teaching from the MEES program at UMCP. Download Dr. Miller’s Presentation
Dr. Raymond Najjar is Professor of Oceanography with the Department of Meteorology at The Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Najjar’s research covers two areas: marine biogeochemistry and the impact of climate change on estuaries. He has worked on several climate impact assessments in the Mid-Atlantic Region of the United States. Current research is focused on the nitrogen and carbon cycles of coastal waters of the eastern United States and long-term salinity change in the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays. He currently serves as a Pennsylvania-appointed member of the Science and Technical Advisory Committee of the Chesapeake Bay Program. At Penn State, he teaches courses in meteorology and oceanography. Download Dr. Najjar’s Presentation – Implications of climate change for Chesapeake Bay fish and shellfish
Dr. Jana Davis is the Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust, a legislatively created non-profit grant-making organization that funds bay restoration and education, and innovation in both fields. You may know the Trust as the manager of funds collected through the bay plate, the Treasure the Chesapeake license plate program here in Maryland. Jana is a marine ecologist, holding a B.S. in biology from Yale University and a Ph.D. in oceanography from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Jana’s experience is focused at the intersection of science and policy: She has served as an American Association for the Advancement of Science Congressional Science Fellow in the United States Senate, a fisheries researcher at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, and a faculty member of the interdisciplinary Williams College-Mystic Seaport Maritime Studies Program. Jana continues a scientific program on shoreline restoration and ecology issue
The Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) requirements for the Chesapeake watershed
The 2011 Chesapeake Environmental Protection Association (CEPA) environmental forum on October 14,
2011 presents a comprehensive presentation on the topic of EPA enforcement of Total Maximum Daily
Load (TMDL) requirements for the Chesapeake watershed. Discussing TMDL’s in the CEPA Winter 2010-
2011 newsletter, CEPA president Dr. Albert Tucker notes “it is the maximum amount of a pollutant or
anything else that can exist and still allow the water quality to be fishable or swimmable.”
TMDL’s or the “Pollution Diet” have been in the news recently as the Obama administration has moved
to enforce the Clean Water Act with the threat of severe penalties to the states for non-compliance.
This plants the hope that the long struggle to reverse the decline of the Chesapeake Bay will finally
show results. Observers have suggested that the good intentions and agreements between Bay
watershed jurisdictions over the years have suffered from lack of oversight, coordination, and
enforcement. The recent EPA moves to require the Bay watershed states to complete the
establishment of TMDL limits for their waterways and to submit plans to achieve the goals, coupled
with penalties for non-compliance, holds the promise of finally reversing the trend of decline.
The actual implementation of this plan, however, is more complex than presented above. Further
examination reveals that issues of enforcement, jurisdiction, monitoring, effectiveness of the states’
plans, flexibility to recognize and adjust to ineffective measures, time required to realize results, and
certainly cost suggest that the current EPA initiative with all its promise could turn out to be no more
effective than those of the past.
The CEPA forum will examine these issues and provide the basis to inform concerned citizens in the Bay
region. CEPA believes that an informed public is better suited to support or help direct the actions of
government. The program will include speakers and a round table discussion moderated by award winning
journalist, Terence Smith.
- Dr. Walter Boynton, University of Maryland Chesapeake Biological Lab
- John Rhoderick, Maryland Department of Agriculture
- Dr. Richard Eskine, Maryland Department of Environment
- Valerie Conolley, Maryland Farm Bureau Federation
- Ron Bowen, Anne Arundel County Department of Public Works
- Greg Barranco, US Environmental Protection Administration Chesapeake Bay Program
The Health of the Bay and You
The 2010 forum held February 26, featured J. Charles “Chuck” Fox, Special Asst. to the EPA Administrator for the Chesapeake Bay and Tom Horton, Environmentalist and Author
On Friday evening, February 27, 2009 CEPA held a forum on stream restoration at the Southern High School in Harwood. The forum was moderated by Rich Romer, a CEPA Trustee, and the speakers were Ron Bowen, Anne Arundel County Director of Public Works, Erik Mikelsen, Executive Director of the South River Federation, and Dr. Margaret Palmer, Director of the University of Maryland’s Chesapeake Biological Laboratory at Solomons.
Ron Bowen pointed out that most of Anne Arundel County was developed years ago before the damaging effects of stormwater were properly accounted for and managed. Only in recent years have we have learned how to deal with stormwater and do so properly with respect to new construction. But that leaves the damage from hundreds of years of development. The damage to historic streams from stormwater runoff from our older developments needs to be retrofitted with effective stormwater management systems.
Bowen stated that all major Anne Arundel County waterways are now classified as impaired. A number of individual streams have been restored, such as Howard’s Branch, at the Edgewater Elementary School, and at Shipley’s Choice. However, the cost of restoring all the streams that need it and of correcting all the runoff problems is far beyond what the County can afford in the near future. Bowen admitted that the situation presents a bleak picture.
Impervious areas in Anne Arundel County cover 17% of our land, and that amount of impervious surface is known to create problems with respect to water quality, particularly in reducing wildlife diversity. The County Council is considering legislation which would require enhanced nitrogen removal systems for new septic tanks in the County, which will reduce nitrogen flow into the Bay If we are to get our rivers off the impaired list, we also need to change our behavior with respect to fertilizing our lawns, using rain barrels and rain gardens, etc.
Even using proper stormwater management practices with new construction, Bowen estimates that after the County is built out, 95% of runoff pollution will come from existing development, emphasizing the need for retrofitting older stormwater management systems.
In order to understand the present status of our streams, Erik Michelsen talked about man’s influences throughout our history. In 1608, before we altered the land, there were many beaver dams to slow streams down and allow the water to seep back into the ground. Early settlers constructed many mill dams, which also slowed down the streams, but which caused silt to accumulate behind the dams. As the dams were removed or allowed to deteriorate, the streams eroded a path through the silt, often several meters thick, and left steep banks without any vegetation. For many years, as development occurred, developers felt the best way to “restore” streams was to channel them to get water to rivers or bays as directly as possible. With no chance for the water to soak into the ground, this increased the amount of agricultural sediment and pollution from runoff which flowed directly into the rivers and bays.
Now we are aware of a number of techniques that slow down streams, using a series of pools, for example, which allow the water to soak in. Also, sand filters can be used between pools. The Wilelinor development at the intersection of Aris T. Allen and Southern Maryland Boulevards (MD Routes 665 and 2) is a good example of new restoration techniques. Mikelsen reported that the South River Federation plans some stream restoration work in Church Creek, with help from grants.
Some studies suggest that water quality is significantly affected when impervious surface in the watershed reaches about 10%. However, Margaret Palmer pointed out that there is no abrupt decrease in wildlife at that point. Some species can tolerate more and some less.
She explained that some past stream restoration projects attempted to recreate the conditions that used to be present. Often that is difficult, and often that is not the best way to restore streams. Enough conclusive studies have been made that the results of those studies should guide how restoration is done. That would definitely include such things as step pools and wetlands. Studies also indicate that restoration doesn’t necessarily mean that biodiversity will rebound.
Dr. Palmer feels the single most effective way to reduce runoff and pollution for a reasonable cost is to preserve forests and plant trees, particularly in the buffer areas adjacent to streams and the Bay. Often, large sums of money are spent on very effective stream restoration, but she feels the same amount of money would be far more effective if it were reallocated to preserving and planting trees.
On Friday, February 29, 2008, the CHESAPEAKE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION ASSOCIATION (CEPA) held a forum on Ground Water at the South River High School Auditorium in Edgewater. The forum was moderated by CEPA Trustee Rich Romer, and the keynote speaker was Dr. Robert Summers, Deputy Secretary, Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). Dr Summers started by explaining the differences in the hydrology and water usage in different parts of the state. Western Maryland has mostly fractured rock aquifers, and, due to the relatively low population density, the water is predominately used for thermoelectric and industrial purposes. Thermoelectric refers to cooling water for coal, oil, and nuclear power plants. The limited amount of water in fractured rock is running out. In Central Maryland, which includes Baltimore and north and west of Baltimore, the water is used mostly for public supply and thermoelectric purposes. Southern Maryland gets most of its water from several aquifers, and uses it primarily for public supply and domestic use. The water levels in the aquifers have been declining significantly over the last 30 years or more. And the recharge zones in the northern and western parts of the area are being paved over. On the Eastern Shore, water is used primarily for irrigation.
The Governors Bob Ehrlich and then Martin O’Malley appointed the Water Resources Advisory Committee on which Dr. Summers serves. The Committee has studied demands for water and made a number of recommendations for management of our water supply. In 2004, it issued its first report, recommending a comprehensive evaluation of existing aquifer and watershed water supplies. This involves adding stream gauges, observation wells, and other monitoring mechanisms to what already exists. For example, the number of observation wells should be increased from 141 to 240. Such a study has already been initiated in Southern Maryland, but has been hampered by lack of funding.
An interim report issued by the Advisory Committee in 2006 recommended conservation measures, wastewater recycling technologies, and studied desalination and water storage methods (reservoirs). These measures will be necessary with the population of Maryland expected to increase by more than one million (to 6.3 million) in the next 25 years.
In 2007, a bill passed the General Assembly (House Bill 1141) which requires that water resources be an element in the comprehensive development plans of local governments, i.e. Counties and municipalities. Along with other committee recommendations, this would cost an average of $7 million per year for the next 7 years. That funding is not in place at this time, and the Advisory Committee is trying to identify possible funding sources.
During the Question and Answer period, Mike Shay used the example of a particular golf course in Anne Arundel County which uses great amounts of water, and he asked Dr. Summers why that sort of thing is not controlled by water appropriation permits. Dr. Summers would like to see that sort of water usage controlled, but stated that there is public resistance to controlling something that historically was free for everybody.
Dr. M. Gordon Wolman, Professor of Environmental Engineering at Johns Hopkins University and Chairman of the Water Resources Advisory Committee, was the next speaker. He said that it is no longer possible for everybody to use the aquifers and tributaries without restrictions. He feels that the recommendations of the Advisory Committee are necessary for managing the water supply, but says that the two reports they have issued so far were met with “a deafening silence from the political world.”
Dr. Wolman feels that the legislation currently being considered, and the present state of mind in the Maryland General Assembly is such that no significant progress will be made this year. He feels that the major hurdle is to educate and persuade the legislature that the Advisory Committee’s recommendations must be put into effect. That would include the funding necessary to establish a structure for fees and permits and for ensuring that water resources are considered in local comprehensive plans.
One issue that apparently remains to be settled is the amount of water that can be withdrawn from our rivers without adversely affecting the environment or other uses such as fishing, boating, and swimming. A compromise will probably be necessary.
Robert Shedlock, Associate District Chief & Supervisory Hydrologist, US Geological Survey went into greater detail on the types and characteristics of aquifers in different parts of Maryland. He spoke about USGS efforts to establish an Aquifer Information System, which would map the depths, thicknesses, etc. of all our aquifers, and model the soils with respect to, among other things, how easily water passes through them. The results should allow a determination of where wells can be dug, how deep, and how much water can be withdrawn without detriment. At present, the process is largely trial and error. With this data on hand, the permitting process could be controlled and managed. The system is being developed, but, again, adequate funding has been lacking. Shedlock stated that the earliest a working aquifer model could be available was 2013.
The speakers and several audience members mentioned the severe droughts in our region in 2002 and again in 2007 which resulted in water restrictions and/or development limitations in several Maryland locations. In addition to much better water allocation, several new water “sources” could be utilized:
- Enhanced conservation
- Expanded wastewater use
- Possible desalination
- Additional storage facilities
All agreed that water use based on the assumption of continued plentiful supply can no longer continue in much of our area.
CEPA’s mission is to raise public awareness, educate, and encourage activism to protect the Chesapeake Bay.
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