Category: environment

Report: Eastern Shore has unhealthy levels of nitrate in drinking water

Two counties on Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore, where there are hundreds of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), have unhealthy levels of nitrate in drinking water, which may lead to health problems such as blue baby syndrome, thyroid disease and pregnancy complications.

More than a third of Wicomico and Worcester counties’ population, or over 56,000 residents, may have been or are currently exposed to dangerous nitrate levels, according to a recent study by The Center for Progressive Reform. >Read More

Maryland Environment and Transportation Departments Advance Innovative Solution to Pollution

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has approved an innovative approach to Chesapeake Bay restoration that encourages and rewards environmental education that helps reduce and prevent pollution.

The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) and Living Classrooms Foundation are launching a pilot education program that will encourage activities to reduce pollution to Maryland waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. The program – whose successes will be measured under MDE oversight – is the first of its kind in Maryland and is believed to be the first such program in the bay region.

“One of the best ways to celebrate Earth Day is to get cleaner and greener by boosting education and inspiration,” said Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles. “By encouraging innovative partnerships with civic and education-based organizations, our state can deliver even greater results for healthy communities, climate-resilient watersheds, and a restored Chesapeake Bay.” >Read More

Weather Service confirms five tornadoes hit D.C. area Friday morning, biggest winter event on record

By Ian Livingston | February 7 | Source: Washington Post

A sixth twister was confirmed in far northeast Maryland
Storm damage on the 100 block of West Main St. in Westminster, Md., on Friday.

The National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed Friday evening that at least six tornadoes touched down during this morning’s historic winter thunderstorm event in Maryland and Virginia. Five were in the local Washington area.

Previously, the Washington region had seen a maximum of just one tornado in any winter severe thunderstorm event. The five occurring in a single morning represents, by far, the biggest winter tornado event on record for this area.
>Read More

Applications being accepted for Md. Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program

ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program is now accepting applications for the 2020 growing season.

In its second year, the program allows eligible farmers to partner with institutions of higher education or the department to grow industrial hemp for research purposes.

“Industrial hemp is another opportunity for Maryland farmers to diversify their operations and one more way that we can ensure rural Maryland is open for business,” said Secretary Joseph Bartenfelder. “In its inaugural year, our industrial hemp program received a lot of participation from Maryland farmers and we are excited to see this program grow in 2020.”

>Read More

Mario Morino’s new book released today…High rates of students in remedial community college courses…Talking with new DHCD head [News, 5.19.11]

COMMUNITY | Today Venture Philanthropy Partners, in collaboration with McKinsey & Company, are launching their latest publication, Leap of Reason: Managing Outcomes in an Era of Scarcity, by Mario Morino. The book calls on funders to empower their grantees to focus on impact and outcomes, rather than onerous reporting requirements, particularly during the current economic downturn when maximizing nonprofits’ impact is especially important.

BUDGETS | Yesterday advocates demonstrated to protest the cuts to services for the homeless in the District’s FY2012 budget. They seem to have gotten their message across: Council Chairman Kwame Brown told the crowd that he would “do everything I can to restore all of the homeless services” in the budget, though he said he wouldn’t be doing it by raising the income tax. (WAMU, 5/19)

– A new report shows that significant segments of students at the region’s community colleges have to enroll in remedial English, math, and English as a second language courses. (Examiner, 5/19)

– Jay Matthews takes a look at the controversy around an extremely rigorous new DC charter school, which opponents think won’t adequately meet the needs of special education students and students learning English as a second language. (WaPo, 5/12)

Closing more bad charters sooner (WaPo, 5/15)

– D.C. schools investigate security breaches in 2011 tests. (Examiner, 5/19)

HOUSING | John Hall, the new director of the Department of Housing and Community Development, talks about his plans and priorities for his new position, particularly with regard to ensuring a supply of affordable housing. (City Paper, 5/17)

ENVIRONMENT | New technology being acquired by DC’s Wastewater Treatment Plant will be the “largest source of clean renewable energy in Washington, D.C.,” according to George Hawkins, the head of DC’s Water and Sewer Authority. (WAMU, 5/17)

– The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region is inviting nominations of exceptional youth and young adult leaders for its 2011 Linowes Leadership Award. The foundation awards four people annually, with one award specifically recognizing a young person, age 18 or younger. Nominations must be in by May 25. More information is available here.

– Greater DC Cares’ 2011 Impact Summit, where regional business, nonprofit, and volunteer leaders who have made an impact in philanthropy, volunteerism, and service will be recognized, is coming up on June 15. The is an open call for nominations in each category. Nominations are due by May 27. Forms and more information can be found here.

GIVING | Today is the Dulles Greenway’s annual “Drive for Charity” day. 100% of the tolls collected today will be donated to five Loudoun County nonprofits. If you’re wondering how much one day of tolls amounts to, last year’s Drive for Charity day raised $226,427.

Today’s news round-up by Rebekah.

More demographic change in the District…Former First Lady to lead fundraising for the National Mall…An important Cinco de Mayo anniversary [News, 5.6.11]

CENSUS | The influx of young professionals into DC has garnered a lot of media attention lately, but that’s not the only new population trend in the city. Baby Boomers are the fastest growing segment of the District’s population, according to census data which shows that the pre-senior population has grown by nearly 30 percent to 64,000 over the last decade. (Examiner, 5/5)

Related: As the region’s population ages in the coming years, demand for a high quality direct care workforce will explode. The second installment of WRAG’s Working Group on Aging’s Quality Jobs/Quality Care series, “Increasing the Supply of Professionally Trained Direct Care Workers,” is next Wednesday, May 11.

-After Montgomery County passed a bag tax more expansive than the District’s, DC Councilmember Tommy Wells, who took the lead on instituting this city’s bag tax, says that the District might consider broadening the bill to include disposable bags used at any retail location. (WaPo 5/5)

Virginia offshore drilling bill passes U.S. House, despite the Obama administration’s current ban. (WAMU, 5/6)

GIVING | Laura Bush is leading a group of high profile donors to raise funds for the Trust for the National Mall, which works to restore the badly rundown national park. Since January 1, $3 million has been raised toward the $350 million goal. (WTOP, 5/5)

HISTORY | Yesterday marked the twentieth anniversary of the Mount Pleasant riots, when the shooting of a Salvadoran man by the police sparked three days of unrest in the Mount Pleasant, Adams Morgan, and Columbia Heights neighborhoods. Former Mayor Sharon Pratt and BB Otero, the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, shared memories of the riots and discussed their lingering impact on the city’s Hispanic community on a fascinating segment on the Kojo Nnamdi Show yesterday. (Somewhat related: BB Otero will be speaking with WRAG members next week about the city’s summer youth programs.) (WAMU, 5/5)

Christian is off today, so this roundup was brought to you by Rebekah. Have a great weekend everyone!

Upcoming events…Increased scrutiny on youth detention programs…The impact of arts cuts [News, 4.22.11]

In honor of Earth Day, we wanted to share a couple of upcoming environment-related events of interest:

– DC Appleseed will present recommendations from their new report, “A New Day for the Anacostia: A National Model for Urban River Revitalization,” at the Yards Park on May 2, along with Mayor Vince Gray, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, and others. The report lays out a strategy to clean up the Anacostia River and “turn it into a centerpiece for recreation and economic development throughout DC and Maryland.” More information about the event is available here.

– WRAG Board member Anna Powell passed along this upcoming Wells Fargo-sponsored workshop on May 11 that will be of interest to corporate grantmakers. The tactical workshop, put on by the Association of Corporate Contributions Professionals, will explore the landscape of organizations focused on environmental grantmaking, current trends in sustainability, and promising practices in corporate grantmaking. More information and registration is here.

ENVIRONMENT | Eric Kessler of Arabella Philanthropic Investment Advisors writes about the Potomac Conservancy, which, with the support of several WRAG members, “contributes to a united region by working to safeguard the lands and waters of the Potomac.” (WRAG Daily, 4/20)

JUVENILE JUSTICE| After four DC teens escaped from a youth detention facility in South Carolina earlier this week, Councilmember Jim Graham, who oversees the Committee on Human Services which has oversight of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, is calling for review of the city’s use of detention facilities in other states. The city sends about 225 teens to these facilities, which costs the city $20 million per year. (Examiner, 4/21)

ARTS | The deep cuts to the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs’ grants program that came out of the recent federal budget agreement already got some attention on the Daily this week, but I thought that this quote from Morey Epstein, the director of institutional development at Studio Theatre, was worth sharing, as it serves as a reminder of the economic impact that a diminished arts and culture scene in DC will have on the city (City Paper 4/20):

“This is just a terrible time for the city to be losing $7 million that goes to arts organizations and from there into the city’s economy,” Epstein says. “They’re the economic engines that revitalize neighborhoods. They pay vendors and salaries. The nation’s capital should be a shining light where the country showcases its arts and cultural life. This cut is going to diminish that.”

During better economic times, the arts sector has had a significant impact on local neighborhoods. WRAG’s 2009 report Beyond Dollars explained how the revitalized Atlas Theater anchored the new development along the H Street NE corridor, which is now a thriving business district.

Happy Earth Day! Apparently if everyone lived like me, it would take 5.1 Earths to provide enough resources. And that’s without owning a car, not eating much meat, living with a few too many roommates, and recycling religiously.  Hopefully some of you live greener than me. 


Taking Steps to Make the Potomac Healthy

By Eric Kessler
Principal and Managing Director
Arabella Philanthropic Investment Advisors

Last November, the Potomac Conservancy and I co-hosted the inaugural Potomac Table, which brought together over 30 regional philanthropic leaders to learn about the state of the Nation’s River. Although there has been much progress since President Lyndon Johnson declared a polluted Potomac River a “national disgrace,” many stretches of the river remain unhealthy.

85 percent of the region’s residents get our drinking water from the Potomac. As we open our taps, few of us think about polluted soil from construction sites, farm runoff carrying hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides, or rainwater running off steaming asphalt parking lots. These pollutants flow unchecked into the ecosystem.

With Earth Day and spring upon us, thousands of people are enjoying the watershed’s trails and parks. When I am out with my family on our boat this summer, I want to know that we can swim in the Potomac without the risk of getting sick.

We can achieve reasonable goals through actions on the land that support and sustain healthy waters, including:

  • Protecting forests and replanting more trees;
  • Limiting pollution running off roofs and roads;
  • Building a community of champions for the Potomac.

With the support of WRAG members such as the Cafritz Foundation, Prince Charitable Trust and the MARPAT Foundation, the Potomac Conservancy contributes to a united region by working to safeguard the lands and waters of the Potomac. Together, they understand that water is not a waste product, but a resource.

As individuals and communities who care about the health of our lands and waters, we must embrace stronger protections for our rivers and forests.

The steps we take – or fail to take – today will have a profound impact on the future of the Potomac River as well as the region’s quality of life and our own health.

Nonprofit Energy Alliance: cheaper, greener electricity

By Amy Fishman, Nonprofit Roundtable

We’re all feeling the heat this summer. As temperatures rise, we set the A/C a little lower.   Speaking of heating and cooling…

The Nonprofit Roundtable is arranging an opportunity for cheaper, greener electricity.  Qualified nonprofits can expect to save 10 – 15%, maybe more.  Our affiliate Nonprofit Montgomery and the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County organized the first Nonprofit Energy Alliance of 14 nonprofits who will collectively save an estimated $178,000 next year compared to standard offer service, while supporting clean sources of energy that are essential to protecting our environment and building a new economy.   The ‘Nonprofit Energy Alliance I’ was recognized last week by Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett. The purchase, arranged by Clean Currents, is equivalent to taking 294 cars off the roads.

The ‘Nonprofit Energy Alliance II’ begins in September 2010 and is open to any nonprofit in DC or Suburban MD that pays for electricity (as on owner or renter).  We are offering 2 optional learning opportunities or contact Alexis Quinn to learn more.  Organizations MUST signal their interest by signing in no later than July 31, 2010.

Click here for a primer of purchasing competitive and clean electricity prepared by the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection.

Washington Gas announces $50K RFP for 2010 Environmental Innovator Grant

“The purpose of the RFP is to identify and promote programs that encourage practices among residential households to improve energy efficiency; raise awareness of natural gas as a clean and efficient fuel; and influence actions targeting the reduction of total energy consumption thereby reducing greenhouse gas emission.” DC area nonprofits are eligible. Proposal deadline: May 21, 2010. Interested grant applicants may participate in bidder conference calls scheduled for April 22 and May 12. To learn more about the RFP and to view the guidelines, click here.