In an effort to identify problems at their source and to develop solutions that will benefit the Chesapeake Bay and its habitat, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler embarked on a river-by-river environmental audit in April 2008. The first annual report contains the results of the Attorney General’s audits of the Chester, Pocomoke and Monocacy Rivers and Great Seneca Creek. During each visit, Gansler met with elected officials, environmental leaders and community members from each watershed to hear firsthand about environmental challenges specific to that location as well as about pollution issues common throughout the greater Chesapeake Bay watershed. The 2008 audits revealed recurring concerns common among the watersheds including: pollution related to agriculture and growth; lack of agency transparency and accessibility of information; insufficient agency resources to investigate and prosecute polluters; and, inadequate penalties and fines to deter polluters.
As this information was gathered from each watershed, the Attorney General referred a number of matters to appropriate regulatory agencies; initiated and concluded enforcement actions and lawsuits; and, worked with State agencies to achieve greater transparency and access to information. Gansler also supported significant legislation that ultimately will benefit the Chesapeake Bay, including bills that enhance the ability of citizens and associational groups to challenge environmental permits, wetlands licenses and Critical Area variances; prohibit the proliferation of individual wastewater treatment plants; lower the phosphorous content in lawn fertilizer; and, reduce nitrogen pollution from septic systems in the Critical Area.
Each year, Attorney General Gansler anticipates visiting four or more of the Bays tributaries to conduct similar audits and to open lines of communication. These ongoing relationships will help to identify environmental problems and solutions and new information will assist with future audits and enhance their effectiveness. A copy of the Attorney Generals 2008 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Environmental Audit can be found at http://www.oag.state.md.us/reports.