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Md.'s Smaller Coastal Bays Now Focus Of Pollution Reduction

OCEAN CITY, Md. (WJZ)—Next to the Chesapeake, Maryland's smaller coastal bays haven't received as much attention when it comes to pollution. Now that's over.

Alex DeMetrick reports the state is promising federal regulators change is on the way.

Clean water on Ocean City's beach routinely gets some of the highest marks in the country. But the bay's behind town and Assateague Island are different.

"They're shallow lagoons and that always creates more of a challenge in controlling the pollution," said Jay Apperson, Maryland Department of Environment.

The immensely larger Chesapeake Bay has long been the focus for reducing pollution.

State's in the bay's watershed have been signing agreements and setting deadlines for decades.

"To reduce nitrogen, phosphorous, sedimentary flow," said Gov. Martin O'Malley.

From air pollution from power plants, animal waste and fertilizer, and pollutions washed off hard surfaces by run-off.

Those same factors impact coastal bays, feeding the algae blooms that create dead zones.

So under EPA prompting, Maryland will reduce those pollutants by 20-to 40 percent in Assawoman Bay, Isle of Wight Bay and Chicoteague Bay.

"These are pollution limits for these nutrients, nitrogen and phosphorous," Apperson said.

The state must now hammer out how reductions will be made with the affected counties. That's likely to spark disagreement. The goal is far easier to agree on.

"Which is to allow generations of Marylanders to enjoy these coastal bays. They're one of Maryland's great treasures. To continue to fish, recreate and enjoy them," Apperson said.

A timeline for reducing pollution in coastal bays and how to pay for it are only beginning to be discussed.

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