Cleaner waterways, but still not clean enough
The improvements in the Potomac River's health [front page, Sept. 8] are promising, but we need to do much more to ensure the river is clean and healthy enough to support drinking water supplies, recreation and wildlife. The Obama administration's America's Great Outdoors initiative offers hope to revitalize the Potomac and rivers nationwide.
The Potomac, the nation's river, is the perfect place to start. Creating a Potomac River national scenic trail from source to sea by linking parks, public riverside lands and new protected areas would be a crowning achievement and a powerful statement about the nation's commitment to clean water.
Rebecca Wodder, Washington
The writer is president of American Rivers.
Upgrading wastewater treatment plants has clearly been an effective way to reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay region. Likewise, we should use the most effective means to reduce pollution from one of the largest sources: agriculture.
Agriculture contributes 39 percent of the nitrogen and 45 percent of the phosphorus polluting the bay, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. While many farmers have curbed their pollution, there is still more to be done.
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) suggested one remedy in his water restoration plan for the bay. Much of the soil is saturated with phosphorus, and manure application should be limited to lands where the soil can soak up the nutrients so they do not leach into the water. Mr. O'Malley recommended that we revise the tests farmers use to determine application rates.
If we can prevent manure application on nutrient-soaked lands, we'll begin to see serious nutrient reductions in the bay from agriculture. Mr. O'Malley should follow through with this far-reaching proposal.
Meg Cronin, Baltimore
The writer is a policy associate with Environment Maryland.