Maryland farmers are criticizing recently suggested water regulations designed to protect the Chesapeake Bay. To many farmers, the proposal smacks of an overactive federal government, while many environmental activists see the regulations as the only way to protect fragile ecosystems.
For the past several years, the Environmental Protection Agency, working alongside the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has been in the middle of a battle over agricultural pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. With algae blooms leading to large dead zones across the Bay, many residents are worried about the health of a major tourist attraction and a vital part of their local economy.
As part of their redoubling of efforts to protect endangered ecosystems, the EPA introduced strict new pollution controls, limiting the amount of sediment and runoff that farmers could allow into Chesapeake waterways as part of a larger effort to reduce the flow of nitrogen and phosphorus.
One of the suggested regulations that are currently drawing heat would limit application of nutrients and fertilizers within a 35-foot zone surrounding major streams and waterways. While some farmers complained that further regulations would hurt their business, others claimed that farm runoff does not pose as great a threat as other types of pollution and that the federal government is deliberately suppressing evidence supporting this theory.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer