The Maryland Department of the Environment is changing water discharge regulations to remove an unnecessary requirement for businesses, including some aquaculture operations.
The amendments remove a requirement to obtain a water discharge permit for businesses that discharge only water that is passed through without added pollutants. The amendments would not reduce environmental protections but would remove an unnecessary burden to business. In particular, oyster-growing operations are expected to benefit from the proposed change.
“This change advances one of the Hogan administration’s top priorities: removing unjustified regulations in order to boost Maryland’s business climate while maintaining important environmental safeguards,” said MDE Secretary Ben Grumbles. “We are changing Maryland for the better by rooting out unnecessary requirements and strengthening our commitment to aquaculture and other sectors that grow our economy and protect our environment.”
“Aquaculture has become a real success story in Maryland as more people and businesses continue to invest in this innovative economic opportunity,” said Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton. “Anything our state can do to encourage and expand aquaculture, including reforming this regulation, will aid Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts and boost Maryland’s economy.”
The original proposal was published in the July 10, 2015, of the Maryland Register, and a public hearing was held on Aug. 10. Today’s edition of the Maryland Register includes A Notice of Final Action stating that the amendments have been adopted as proposed, with an effective date of Sept. 28.
Current regulations automatically require a water discharge permit for discharges greater than 10,000 gallons per day – regardless of whether there is a discharge of pollutants. The current requirement is more stringent than federal requirements. Under the amendment, the automatic requirement based on an arbitrary flow volume will be eliminated. Any facility that discharges pollutants to State waters will still be required to obtain a discharge permit and comply with that permit’s terms.
Oyster operations, including the growing of larvae and spat-on-shell operations, are flow-through systems that use estuarine water to promote the growth of the organisms through the metabolization of nutrients already present in the water. Once the oysters are large enough, they also serve as natural filtration for sediment. Not only do the oyster operations represent no added pollution to waters of the State, increasing the oyster population is a mechanism for improving overall water quality.
Jeff Fretwell of MDE said, “Delegate O’Donnell and Senator Klausmeier, we are happy to have worked with you to make this positive change to promote aquaculture in the state”. Thanks.