Coronavirus victims include restoration, monitoring of Bay

Release Date:

Bay Journal — By Timothy B. Wheeler, Jeremy Cox & Karl Blankenship — June 3, 2020

"Efforts to rebuild shad populations in the Chesapeake Bay watershed took a beating. Water quality went unchecked for the longest time in more than three decades. State and local governments face huge budget gaps that could impact Bay restoration for years to come.

The impacts of the novel coronavirus that has killed more than 100,000 people nationwide continues to ripple through the Bay region — sometimes in unexpected ways — and will continue to do so. Environmental restoration efforts have already been hit and the impacts are just beginning to play out.

With the Bay cleanup deadline about five years away, many pollution control actions were delayed while state and county governments and conservation districts struggled with staffing cuts and curtailed field work.

“In our county conservation districts, we’ve seen some furloughs and some reduced capacity,” said Pat McDonnell, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. “We obviously lost at least part of the construction season.”

For now, state and federal officials say they intend to meet Bay cleanup goals. “We are committed to the 2025 timeframe,” said Ben Grumbles, Maryland secretary of the environment. “We are continuing to make real progress despite the last couple of months.”

But, he added, “it is fair to say this is a challenge for all of us.”

Lost tax revenue stemming from springtime shutdowns has left state and local governments facing billions of dollars of shortfalls, though officials say it will be weeks or months before they know exactly how that will affect conservation programs.

Bay Journal survey of 18 local governments found that more than half deemed it “highly likely” that their environmental programs would experience budget cuts. Many said on-the-ground projects have been delayed, and some said stormwater inspection and maintenance programs have already been affected. . ."

Read the full article at the Bay Journal

 

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