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May 9, 2014

Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund Awards $64 Million for FY ‘15

by kking

New Broadway East Community Park in Baltimore City is transformed into an urban park last summer thanks to the Trust Fund and partners.

Innovative financing program celebrates 8 years of local water quality improvements in Maryland 

In another boost for Chesapeake Bay water quality, Governor Martin O’Malley has allocated $64.44 million to the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund in the State’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget. Created by the Maryland General Assembly in 2007, this unique financing program has directed a total of $256 million to local governments and organizations for 1,000 nonpoint source pollution projects that reduce harmful nutrient and sediment runoff into the Bay. 

“Stormwater runoff remains one of the single greatest challenges in our fight to restore the health of Maryland’s waterways,” said Governor O’Malley. “The Trust Fund provides a means for State and local partners to identify innovative, cost-effective approaches to meet our Bay restoration goals, and provides the financial and technical resources to get them up and running.”

Nonpoint pollution includes agricultural and stormwater runoff, which can cause algae blooms and dead zones, and overtime threaten important Bay grasses and fishery resources. Through the Trust Fund, which is administered by DNR, agency experts work with local partners to reduce nonpoint source pollution by investing in clean water projects and technologies, and by establishing cover crops on farms in critical areas. DNR estimates that Trust Fund projects have prevented an estimated 2.2 million pounds of nitrogen, 240,000 pounds of phosphorus and 17,500 tons of sediment from entering Maryland waterways to date.

“Managing Maryland’s stormwater by using new technologies and planting cover crops that recycle unused plant nutrients decreases the amount of pollutants that run off into our waterways,” said DNR Secretary Joe Gill. “The Trust Fund helps divide and conquer the larger problem of Bay restoration by supporting, on a local level, smaller, effective projects that improve water quality.’

The Trust Fund’s recently released Annual Report breaks down planned spending for fiscal year 2015, with $25 million to support 19 capital stormwater projects at 110 sites − $11.25 million to fund placement of agriculture cover crops, and the remaining to supporting community mini-grant programs, local stormwater remediation, technology research and development, and other pollution-reduction projects.

New projects include retrofits, impervious pavement removal, permeable surface installation, stream restoration and urban greening. Allegany, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Dorchester, Howard, Montgomery, Prince George’s, St. Mary’s and Wicomico counties, and Baltimore City will all receive funding. The next call for proposals is tentatively scheduled for this fall.

While the scope and conditions of each project vary, most will be completed within two years of the grant’s issue date. Although projects are approved in advance, grant recipients are reimbursed quarterly, after making their own investments. After the work is carried out, Trust Fund managers continue to collaborate with local partners to determine reduction rates and overall impact.

Funded through the State’s motor fuel and rental car tax, the Fund helps Maryland accelerate Bay restoration by focusing its limited financial resources on the most effective nonpoint source pollution control projects in coordination with public and private partners. These projects support the State’s Watershed Implementation Plan, developed in response to a federal mandate to lower nonpoint source water pollution levels.  Governor O’Malley has directed nearly $100 million in General Obligation Bonds toward accelerating the State’s efforts ─ a 640 percent increase in trust fund dollars over seven years ─ in the past two years alone.

With restorations often times doubling as learning opportunities for school children, the Trust Fund will engage 14,500 students from across the State in tree plantings, stream restorations and the creation of rain gardens. Projects have also supported 885 jobs both directly and indirectly through construction, project management and other green industries. In addition the work has resulted in the planting of 1,180 acres of forest and restoration of 312 acres of wetland since 2007.

“The Trust Fund program has quickly become one of the most innovative and important water quality financing programs in the region,” said Daniel Nees, senior research associate at the Environmental Finance Center who issued a 2011 analysis of the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund. “Its singular focus on reducing nonpoint sources of nutrient and sediment pollution makes it one of the only programs of its kind.”

Examples of innovative projects stretch across Maryland.

In Baltimore City, the recently completed New Broadway East Community Park project replaced a group of abandoned row houses, bringing about one of the most aesthetically impressive Trust Fund transformations with the support of a diverse group of partners. The park uses innovative concrete in an ultra-urban setting to prevent polluted rainwater runoff from flowing into local streams. Click here to view a video on the project.

The University Boulevard Green Street Project in Prince George’s County is being designed to include urban street trees with extended boxes, bioswales and improved stormwater facilities ─  measures that will catch and treat residential and commercial runoff from nearly eight acres of impervious area.

The Midshore Riverkeeper’s Stream Forest Enhancement and Environmental Education project currently engages 130 ninth to twelfth grade students from St. Michaels and Easton high schools in planting 7.5 acres of river-side buffers. With an underlying theme of water quality and how it affects students locally, the Midshore Rivers Environmental Education Program links to the Environmental Literacy Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. The forest buffer planting will prevent pollution from entering waterways, stabilize stream banks, provide food and habitat for wildlife and keep streams cool during hot weather.

All projects are tracked via the Trust Fund Tracker, with additional information on funding amounts  available in the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund Annual Report for FY 2015. A full list of partners and projects awarded through the Capital Improvement Grant solicitation is available at dnr.maryland.gov/trustfund/pdfs/rfp_awardee.pdf.

For more information, visit dnr.maryland.gov/ccs/funding/trust_fund.asp.

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