Volume IV, Number 5
eMDE is a quarterly publication of the Maryland Department of the Environment. It covers articles on current environmental issues and events in the state.
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The Anacostia River, which suffers the environmental woes that come with too much trash, is going on a diet.
The river is the subject of a draft Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) that sets the “load” of trash into the waterway at zero. To ensure that the standard is reached, the TMDL will require local jurisdictions to remove trash from the streets and the streams in amounts equal to what is already in the waterways.
The Maryland Department of the Environment worked closely with the federal Environmental Protection Agency, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, the District of Columbia, and members of non-governmental organizations to develop the TMDL. The federal Clean Water Act directs states to develop TMDLs - often described as pollution diets - for “impaired” water bodies.
The TMDL is part of a broad effort to restore the Anacostia, an “urban river” that flows from Maryland into the nation’s capital and the Potomac River. The TMDL builds on grass-roots efforts by such groups as the Anacostia Watershed Society, the Alice Ferguson Foundation, and the National Resources Defense Council. It works in conjunction with Maryland’s aggressive efforts to control urban, suburban, and rural runoff, including a municipal stormwater permit for Montgomery County that is one of the most progressive in the nation.
Also key to restoring the Anacostia -- and helping the Chesapeake Bay -- is upgrading the mammoth Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Plant with Enhanced Nutrient Removal technology and the means to control sewer overflows. Governor Martin O’Malley has requested $83 million in federal funding for a portion of this multi-billion dollar project, and Maryland is working with Virginia and the District of Columbia to address funding needs.
The Anacostia was listed by Maryland and D.C. as impaired for trash in 2006. Hundreds of tons of trash and debris wash into the river every year. Trash is not only an eyesore; it pollutes the river and harms wildlife that ingests or becomes tangled in debris.
The draft TMDL was announced in April. It is a major component of Maryland’s commitment under the Potomac River Trash Treaty, which holds as its goal a trash-free Potomac by 2013.
California is the only state with TMDLs approved for trash. The public comment period ended on May 18, 2010. MDE, the District of Columbia Department of the Environment, and EPA Region 3 are in the process of reviewing and addressing comments in a comment response document. Once this task is completed, all of the documentation will be submitted to EPA for review and approval.
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