Weekly Environmental News – July 21-27, 2013: sea-level rise, wetland destruction, and Baltimore City’s first bike repair stand

Energy efficiency from on-site power plant

Combined heat and power (CHP) systems like those used at the Back River wastewater treatment plant in Baltimore City can save energy by producing it onsite, using excess heat to power cooling systems, and disconnecting from the main grid during disruptions so that systems can run continuously. Five such systems have been built in Baltimore within the last 10 years, with only 25 systems in the state of Maryland.

Sea-level rising faster than predicted along Maryland coast

The Maryland Commission on Climate Change issued a report on Friday updating their predictions of sea-level rise for coastal Maryland to two to six feet by the year 2100. Options for dealing with rising sea levels include raising houses, offering residents some form of compensation to leave their homes, and relocating utilities out of the flood zone. Sea levels have already risen three to four times faster on the Atlantic seaboard in comparison to the global average, due to gradual sinking of the land from previous glaciers. Maryland has one of the more aggressive climate change plans on the East Coast.

kent narrowsWaterfront developments stalled for Kent Island wetland area 

Kent Island, Maryland is the site of a proposed Four Seasons waterfront development containing 1,079 homes on 425 acres near the mouth of the Chester River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. The area is prone to flooding and therefore also highly susceptible to damage from sea-level rise; any stormwater pollution from the site would feed directly into the Bay. Since 2007, when the Maryland Board of Public Works last denied the developer’s license to destroy wetlands for the project, Hovnanian Enterprises has reduced the size of the proposed development and made promises of environmental safeguards such as building a 131-acre park on-site. Hovnanian Enterprises has been fined $1 million over the past three years by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for various stormwater violations at its existing developments.

Sewage treatment upgrades

The Maryland Board of Public Works approved $65 million in funding for upgrading sewage treatment plants, improving drinking water systems and preventing sewage overflows in eight counties. Although various sanitary sewer improvements projects from Baltimore City are connected to the county projects, these funds have been specifically designated for only the county portion of the project.

JHU bikers: rejoice!

Johns Hopkins University has installed the first bike repair stand in Baltimore City! It’s located on-campus at the intersection of Monument and Washington and includes a multi-tool and air pump. Check out Bikemore.net for a picture and to keep in the loop on biking-related updates for Charm City.

Featured image: Creative Commons image St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) Climate Dot: courtesy of Chesapeake Climate via Flickr

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