Board of Public Works approves funding for clean water and the Chesapeake Bay, mitigation plan for Ever Forward grounding
Wetlands license requires seeding of oyster bars after grounding and refloating of container ship; Conowingo Watershed Implementation Plan funding approved for bay restoration
BALTIMORE (Jan. 4, 2023) – The Maryland Board of Public Works in Annapolis today approved a wetlands license that requires the owner of the container ship Ever Forward to fund the seeding of oyster bars as mitigation for the effects of that vessel’s grounding on aquatic habitat.
The board also approved $25 million in funding that had been included in the budget approved last year for the interstate initiative to reduce water pollution at the Conowingo Dam and advance the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. The board is composed of Governor Larry Hogan, Treasurer Dereck E. Davis and Comptroller Peter Franchot.
“The seeding of oyster bars will contribute to an improved aquatic habitat and provide long term water quality benefits,” said Deputy Secretary/Acting Secretary of the Environment Suzanne E. Dorsey. “From the time that the Ever Forward was grounded to the refloating of the vessel to the issuance of this wetlands license and its special conditions, the Maryland Department of the Environment has been on the job to ensure that the Chesapeake Bay and its habitat for oysters and other aquatic life are protected.”
“The Conowingo Watershed Implementation Plan is an important opportunity, with Maryland in the forefront, to advance Chesapeake Bay restoration through an unprecedented, multi-state initiative to specifically counter the longstanding problem of upstream discharges and the lost trapping capacity of the Conowingo Dam,” said Deputy Secretary/Acting Secretary Dorsey. “This funding reduces risks for Maryland taxpayers through a pay-for-performance approach that spurs private investments as well as public funding for the benefit of the lower Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay.”
The following actions were approved today:
Wetlands License, Evergreen Marine Corp. (Taiwan) Ltd. – Anne Arundel County
The board approved a wetlands license that requires the shipping company Evergreen Marine Corp. to pay $676,200 for the seeding and enhancement of oyster bars to mitigate the effects on aquatic habitat caused by the container ship M/V Ever Forward’s grounding and refloating. An emergency wetlands license was issued last year after the grounding to allow for dredging to refloat the vessel. The grounding and dredging impacted about 14 acres of Chesapeake Bay bottom, including 11.5 acres within the boundary of a natural oyster bar. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued a report with the results of a survey regarding the potential impacts to the natural oyster bar and aquatic habitat.The board’s action ratified the emergency license, with modification, by requiring Evergreen Marine Corp. to mitigate the impacts from the dredging operations. Evergreen Marine Corp. will make payment to DNR for that agency’s enhancement and reseeding of 41 acres of oyster bars to satisfy the mitigation requirement. Because the impacts occurred within Anne Arundel County, DNR will consider locations within that county as a priority.
Conowingo Watershed Implementation Plan
The board approved funding of $25 million to the Susquehanna River Basin Commission for the multi-state Conowingo Watershed Implementation Plan, a key element in the broad regional effort to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay. The commission serves as the fiscal agent for the initiative, which addresses the effects of upstream pollution and the Conowingo Dam’s lost capacity for trapping sediments on bay restoration. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has required that Maryland address 0.18 million pounds of nitrogen reduction within the Susquehanna River watershed. Reducing nitrogen using pay for success contracting will ensure that the Chesapeake Bay receives lower nutrient input from the Susquehanna River by addressing nutrient loads upstream in Cecil and Harford counties and in portions of the watershed in Pennsylvania.
Governor Larry Hogan included this funding in his budget proposal in early 2022. The financing approach was highlighted in the Conservation Finance Act of 2022 and ensures cost-effective, verified, nutrient reductions while prioritizing Maryland’s portion of the watershed. Eligible pay-for-success contracts will receive final review and approval by the secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment.
Heritage Harbor Water and Sewer Replacement, Systems Improvements – Anne Arundel County
A $1,784,155 Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund loan to Anne Arundel County will help fund the design and construction of water lines and related features to replace aging and deteriorated water distribution systems in Point Lookout Cove, Misty Ridge Cove, North Haven Cove, Twin Landing Cove, Quiet Water Cove, and Crest Cove in the Heritage Harbour Community. The new system will correct water pressure and delivery problems and provide residents with safe and sustainable drinking water and water for fire protection. This project will be constructed in accordance with coastal and noncoastal resiliency guidelines developed as part of the Coast Smart Program to reduce climate change risks to such projects.
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