A 35-Year Reflection
Thursday, Oct. 19, marked the 35th anniversary of the passage of the Clean Water Act. Thirty-five years later, our waterways are still polluted, and the protection we largely take for granted is virtually non-existent.
In 1972, Congress passed the Clean Water Act, making a promise to the American public that the sewage stench, oil spills and burning rivers of the 1960s would be a distant memory. The goal was zero discharge of pollution into our rivers, lakes and coastal waters by 1985. Clearly we’ve missed this deadline and thus over 150 other Waterkeepers, in addition to myself, are gainfully employed. But on a more serious note, the release this past week of Environment Maryland’s report "Troubled Waters," which identified numerous violations of state discharge permits, clearly shows there is still discharge of pollution into our waterways.
Here in Worcester County, every single one of our bays, rivers and creeks is listed on the EPA’s "303d" list, identifying them as impaired waterways. While our waters may not be as impaired as those burning rivers of the 1960’s, there are local reasons why our beautiful Atlantic coastal bays are in danger. Impacted by over-development, farmland, outdated stormwater run-off guidelines, too many old technology septic systems in the ground, waste water treatment plants that discharge either directly or indirectly (through our groundwater) into our waterways, even automobile and boat emissions, our waterways are struggling to remain viable recreational and environmental assets to our way of life.
Of particular importance to Worcester County is protecting wetlands and small streams. Pollutors who release wastes into these important watershed systems should be held accountable under the law.
Our current Congress has an opportunity to use this 35th anniversary to ensure that our coastal streams and wetlands are protected under the Clean Water Act by supporting the Clean Water Restoration Act (HR. 2421 – CWRA).
As we have all come to understand, post-Katrina, even a marsh or boggy wetland is an important link in our coastal protecton zone and to the health of our waterways. We all need to urge our Congressional leaders to make a clear statement to their constituency that they are serious about the health of our water. Write to Congressman Wayne Gilchrist today and urge him to support passage of the Clean Water Restoration Act.
(The writer is the Assateague Coastkeeper for the Assateague Coastal Trust.)
Sharing Good News
I feel compelled to write this letter because I think too often good news and positive feedback are far and few between. I am writing concerning the care given by the staff on duty in the emergency room at AGH on Sunday, Sept. 9.
My husband had a very serious accident with our gas oven/stove at 8:30 a.m., which left him with severe burns all over his face. We rushed to the ER and he was instantly provided a bed, i.v. fluids and pain medication. The doctor and nurses on duty were so efficient and kind that even in a terribly stressful situation we were relieved of some of that stress. The comfort that is given by confident, communicative caregivers is almost as valuable as the medical attention.
I think it is unfortunate and ironic that some individuals feel that the medical care given at a small local hospital is below that of a big city facility. We experienced such a sharp contrast in the other direction during this experience I can’t express how incorrect that assumption is.
At AGH, everything that was done was done with the focus on the patient’s comfort and understanding of the procedure. Every procedure came with explanation and patient agreement. We then went to John Hopkins Bayview burn center where all of that changed. Sub standard “care” and indifference were the rule. I have relayed the procedures that took place there to family and friends in the medical profession and they were appalled to hear of the treatment my husband received at the “world class” health care facility. I think it may be a great place for research, but they need to realize their patients are not all laboratory rats.
Even upon release, no home care directions were given whatsoever even though I asked numerous times if there would be. You may wonder why I would leave without them, but I can’t express how eager my husband was to leave when given the opportunity. When we did return home, I had to call the burn center to ask even the basic question as to whether I was supposed to remove the old ointment before applying new ointment to his wounds.
Both myself and my husband feel very strongly that he would have been so much better off being treated right here at our little local hospital it was unfortunate that the rule is to be transferred to a burn center. The care given at AGH was impeccable. I think a better “slogan” than the “urgency back in emergency 30 minute promise” (which on a side note, I feel demeans the professionals to a pizza delivery level) would be “we put the “care” back in “medical care”.
It is respect, appreciation and gratitude to the staff at AGH that has prompted me to take the time to write this – please shower them with praise.
What If On Slots?
Please don’t equate this letter as being pro or con on slots. It is a “what if” letter and it is prompted by slots once again being in the limelight.
I recall a few years ago attending a meeting in our Community Center when the featured speaker was William Rickman Jr., the owner of Ocean Downs. The meeting was part of his lobbying effort to have slots approved for Ocean Downs.
Rickman emphasized a benefit of specific percentages of profits going into the coffers of the county and the municipality. Relative to that, Judy Boggs recently commented at a Board meeting that Route 589 would probably be fast-tracked if slots came to Ocean Downs. The problem is, there is no monetary benefit to the Ocean Pines Homeowners Association (HOA). Yet, Ocean Pines will suffer the additional traffic, noise, etc.
I suggest that we should be lobbying “now” for a monetary benefit “if” slots come to Ocean Downs.
For many, the knee jerk reaction to that is, it is premature now and it would be useless anyway to lobby for the very reason that we are not a municipality. Who will listen to a HOA? If we buy into that, we can be assured we will get what we deserve for inaction. Nothing, nil. Ocean Pines represents a large voting block. I do know of at least three pieces of legislation that was customized specifically for Ocean Pines because an effort was made to have it passed: I refer to the certification of our Police Department, the ability to levy fees for credit card charges, and the collection of commissions on liquor sales “if” a liquor store is opened in the Pines. That legislation was all custom tailored for the Ocean Pines HOA.
Our Board and management should be concerned with this “if” situation “now”. It is part of planning for the future of Ocean Pines. The OPA should be lobbying our county officials and our legislators on behalf of our property owners and voters. Let’s ensure that Ocean Pines will get a piece of the action “if” slots come to Ocean Downs.
A Distorted View
In my view, the longer a politician stays in office, the more they unquestionably accept the recommendations of their bureaucrats. Twenty-year incumbent Ocean City Councilman Jim Hall is an example of such a politician.
Recently the council decided to close the southbound lanes of Coastal Highway to traffic during the Ocean City Christmas Parade for safety reasons. Under the old parade route, traffic was allowed to move next to the parade participants without any kind of permanent divider. Under the new parade route, southbound traffic will use two of the northbound lanes but be separated from the parade participants by a concrete median.
Councilman Hall opposed closing all the southbound lanes because Ocean City Police Department and Public Works officials told him that they did not want the southbound vehicle traffic routed into the northbound lanes. He believed that the council members should follow the bureaucrats’ recommendation. Except for Councilman Hall, the other council members voted for closing the southbound lanes for the parade. It is clear to me that Councilman Hall has been in office too long. He should either retire or be voted out of office by the Ocean City voters.
Time For A Laugh
The current debate in the OC City Council, regarding the "Noise Ordinance," has to be one of the biggest jokes of the year. Noise meter readings versus the "50-foot" rule. This mind you from a City Council that routinely exerts every effort to entice frequent visits by Crusiers, motorcycles, Corvettes, June Bugs, etc. Enjoy the laugh, it’s on you.
This is to the person who complained to my grandmother about my dog barking.
As you know, my dog is a tiny chihuahua. He is strictly an indoor dog and only goes outside to do his business. While outside he is always on a leash and never stays out longer than 10 or 15 minutes at a time. However, like all dogs, he does bark sometimes. Apparently, he makes so much noise that it really bothers you.
My grandmother would not tell me who you are but if you are a friend of hers you can easily find out how to contact me. Please do this so I can offer you a personal apology and perhaps we can find a solution to this problem.
I could put a muzzle on him whenever I let him outside or maybe you would prefer that I train him to use a litter box and avoid going outside altogether.
If you are the type of person who has nothing better to do than complain about something like this, then I truly feel sorry for you. But, I still would like to offer an apology.
West Ocean City
Event A Success
The first-ever Pink Ribbon Classic Red Hat luncheon and fashion show was a huge success. The success is directly attributable to those who contributed to the event.
The OC Gems for making this their monthly outing; the Bayside Skillet for a wonderful luncheon; Bon Worth for providing the wearable fashions; the models Linda Herzberg, Bonnie Mitrecic, Laura Perry; Hattitude for coming all the way from Middletown, Del. to give the ladies a little shopping opportunity; Ocean Greenery for the lovely table arrangements; all who provided door prizes; and Kathy Mathias for representing the American Cancer Society.
And, of course, the Red Hatters who attended – a fun-loving, generous group of women who enjoy the company of other like-minded women who know all too well the devastation of breast cancer. We are all touched by this dreaded disease.
We look forward to making this an annual event. Red Hatters, mark your calendars for Oct. 1, 2008.
(The writer chaired this year’s event.)