Ladies and Gents,
Here's an update on issues of interest to the Protectors of the St. Martin River. We are still waiting for responses to comments given to the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) at the April 24 hearing and in writing by their deadline of April 30. We do not know yet when we might expect to hear from MDE.
1. On May 30, an Administrative Court judge ruled that MDE cannot approve a water discharge permit while exempting the Purnell Crossing CAFO from requirements for permanent storage structures for dead carcasses and manure. (In other words, that CAFO must have built permanent storage structures in order to be issued the permit.) The judge also ruled that MDE may not authorize windrowing (piling up of manure and litter material) inside the chicken houses as an alternative to manure storage. (Remember, we were told at the town hall meeting that this can be done for up to 5 years before the material is eventually cleaned out.)
These rulings give us some encouragement that MDE will not allow the Peerless Road CAFO water discharge permit to be issued as it currently stands because it allows temporary storage. We will have to wait and see. Our plans are still to contest any permit issued by MDE. We have 13 residents who live on Middle Branch and Shingle Landing Prong who have indicated their willingness to be appellants with us. Please email me if you would like to join that group.
2. Hopefully all of you were able to see WBOC's segment on the Protectors of the St. Martin River (aired in every newscast on July 2!) We were pleased that it was factual and presented our concerns and the reasons for forming the coalition very fairly.
We need to keep our concerns in the local papers through letters to the editor. We need new letter writers and can suggest topics if you need them! Please email Lori Insley at email@example.com if you would be willing to write a letter for us! We try to space out sending in our letters so that they ALL get published!
3. We recently learned that the Streamgage in Showell, on Birch Branch, has been cut from MDE's budget and as of July 1 is no longer collecting data. This is the only stream flow gage/gauge in the Coastal Bays. It was a joint effort between the US Geological Service and MDE and the data has been used by several different groups. (You can see the solar panel part of it at the east side of the northbound lane of US 113 where it crosses over Birch Branch, just past the Peerless Rd./Shingle Landing Prong intersection.) Both Maryland Coastal Bays Program (MCBP) and Assateague Coastal Trust (ACT) are looking for ways to renew the funding from other agencies of local or state government because they feel the data supplied by this gage/gauge is important. We will be adding our voices, as affected citizens -- Protectors of the St. Martin River, to their efforts. We will keep you informed.
4. As you know, if it weren't for Kathy Phillips of ACT, we would never have known about the proposed CAFO and there would never have been a public hearing in the first place! Please consider supporting ACT in it's mission of protecting the coastal bays and watershed of Delmarva:
ACT is hosting their annual FLOAT FOR THE COAST event on Friday August 17 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm starting from FishTales at 22nd Street Bayside. After Party begins at 2:00.
Registration is $10 and Kayak Rental is $15.
For more information go to http://www.actforbays.org/
To register go to http://bit.ly/2v9AxK7
Please join in the fun and raise some money for ACT!
5. Hopefully, soon we will be able to focus our efforts entirely on improving the quality of all of the Watershed areas of the St. Martin River. In working toward that end, here is a program being offered by MCBP to show us one area of our watershed that has been restored in a way that REDUCES NUTRIENTS flowing downstream! We need to learn more about projects like this one and the Bishopville Dam Removal and Restoration and begin to work toward more similar projects.
Join us at the Discover Your Watershed, Showell Preserve Program on Nov. 3!
Showell Preserve, MD
Saturday November 3, 10:00 am - 1:00 pm (FREE)
RSVP Addie Snyder at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-213-2297 ext. 107.
Also, remember to join our Facebook page: Protectors of the St. Martin River!
Donations are still welcomed (send to):
Protectors of the St Martin River
P. O. Box 1621
Berlin, MD 21811
Thanks to everyone for your support,
Protectors of the St Martin River
SHOWELL, Md. - Neighbors in Worcester County have formed a new group to fight back against a proposed large chicken farm operation, which is known as a "CAFO."
This comes as the Maryland Department of the Environment is currently considering final approval of a water discharge permit for the proposed poultry farm.
"[We] just want to make people aware of what impact this would have," said Gail Jankowski, co-founder of the new group, "The Protectors of the St. Martin River," along with her husband.
The group is made up of dozens of neighbors and communities along the St. Martin River and within its watershed.
The proposed CAFO would be built on a piece of property on Peerless Road near Route 113 in Showell.
A big worry is that storm water runoff from the poultry farm will end up in local waterways and pollute them.
That's because located behind the proposed CAFO property is Middle Branch, which runs into the Shingle Landing Prong, before flowing into the Saint Martin River.
"All that nutrient ends up in the water, which causes an algae bloom, which kills all the grasses on the bottom, which makes it difficult for the fish to survive," said Joe Jankowski.
In 2016, the Saint Martin River once again received the lowest grade, a D+, on the Maryland Coastal Bays Report Card. That report card measures the health of coastal bays.
"Our concern is if we're already on a body of water that's impaired, why allow something to be built that will impair it further," said Gail.
A spokesman for MDE said the decision of the application will be approved based on whether it meets the requirements, including a plan to address natural resource concerns related to livestock operations.
The spokesman adds MDE does consider public comments in reaching its decision.
The department said it does not have a specific timeframe for a decision regarding the application.