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Volume 4, Number 1
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Where Should We Put Our Money?

By Jack Greer

Cover of Cost-Effective Strategies for The Bay showing a one dollar bill

While the Blue Ribbon Finance Panel explored innovative ways of finding funds for Bay restoration, the Chesapeake Bay Commission analyzed where we might get the biggest bang for each buck. They put their emphasis not so much on market-based tools but on "the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars." In December 2004 the Commission published Cost-Effective Strategies for the Bay: Six Smart Investments for Nutrient and Sediment Reduction.

Of six cost-effective actions only one focused on wastewater treatment plants. The other five relied on improving agricultural practices:

$ Reduce nitrogen output to 3 milligrams per liter from all but the most costly wastewater treatment plants.
$ Adjust diet and feed to reduce nutrients in animal waste.
$ Implement nutrient management on farms.
$ Enhance nutrient reduction on farms by providing yield insurance.
$ Use conservation tillage on farm fields.
$ Plant cover crops to take up unused nutrients.

The Commission's report notes that nutrient loads from both agricultural and point sources (such as waste treatment plants) are trending downward. Even air deposition, they note, shows some promise of dropping. On the other hand, runoff from developed land is on the rise. The report lists five ways to reduce runoff from developed land — from low-impact development practices meant to slow the flow of rainwater to homeowner actions that could reduce the use of lawn fertilizer and help keep more rainwater on site.

The full report on cost-effectiveness is available from the Chesapeake Bay Commission, 60 West Street, Annapolis, Maryland 21401, or on the web at www. chesbay.state.va.us.

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