SALISBURY — Salisbury will be joining Ocean City and Berlin in undergoing the University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s (UMES) stormwater study.
The City Council was also briefed on what the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) will expect from Salisbury in terms of strategies to reduce nutrients in the Chesapeake Bay.
“Ocean City is complete, Berlin is in the middle; we’d really like to say Salisbury is just beginning,” said UMES Senior Research Associate Dan Nees during last week’s meeting.
The study is part of an overreaching effort being made by UMES to marshal flooding and other problems caused by stormwater around Maryland. To combat the issue, Nees pointed out that UMES needs to collect data from a variety of areas.
What the university is looking to Salisbury for, continued Nees, is a “demonstrative commitment” to work with UMES as the study progresses over the next year. While the university would handle almost everything, Nees revealed that city staff time would need to be utilized to collect data. Despite the commitment, the Mayor and Council were quick to accept Nees’ offer.
The council also reviewed a presentation made by Dr. Rich Eskin, an MDE representative. Eskin outlined new efforts being made by the state to reduce nutrient flow into the Chesapeake. It’s a patchwork plan constructed of the individual strategies of each county, town, and municipality.
“It allows us to have a systematic approach in achieving this,” said Keith Hall, who represented the Wicomico Department of Planning and Zoning during the presentation.
According to Hall, Salisbury is “very progressive” in trying to diminish its nutrient load and will have no problem keeping up with the rest of the state. Hall did admit that the process won’t be a walk in the park, however.
As with any major undertaking, Hall acknowledged that it won’t be cheap.
Council President Terry Cohen also worried about the hit the city’s purse would take, especially since finances are already stretched.
Eskin agreed, and pointed out that MDE wants communities to set up two-year milestones, which should make it easier to concentrate and fund one small effort at a time.
“This way you can take it off in bite-sized pieces,” he said. “By thinking ahead, you’ll save yourself money in the long run.”
Salisbury will be asked to contribute a narrative of what past efforts it has already made to reduce nutrients, as well as plans for the future along with contingency strategies if primary goals are not met on time. MDE will be offering use of the online Maryland Assessment Scenario Tool (MAST) to any municipalities who wish to use it when formulating a plan.