Jeff Horstman, executive director of Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy

Jeff Horstman, executive director of Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy

Jeff Horstman serves as the Executive Director of the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, as well as the Miles-Wye Riverkeeper on the Eastern Shore. Through this work, Horstman is a first-hand witness to the effects that development and agricultural activity have on the Shore’s waterways. We caught up with him to learn about the biggest clean water challenges the Eastern Shore is currently facing, the policies that can lead to solutions and how folks can get involved.

The Biggest Challenges for the Rivers of the Eastern Shore and the Chesapeake Bay

Horstman sees the growing population and how the stresses of population on resources cause negative impacts on water quality and the environment as a huge challenge for the Eastern Shore. “Delmarva raises about 855 million chickens a year and the row crops to feed them,” he says. “The byproducts of this massive agricultural production put tremendous stress on our water quality. Finding innovative new methods to meet production goals and getting stakeholders to work together to protect water quality is our biggest challenge.”

How can the Shore overcome such a challenge? Horstman says a combination of innovative solutions, effective advocacy, environmental regulations, education and stakeholder cooperation are all needed.

State Policies that Could Promote Clean Water on the Eastern Shore

“Many of the environmental problems and issues that are currently damaging to our environment could be solved with the enforcement of existing policies and regulations,” says Horstman. “The problem, however, is that the current system of little or no regulatory enforcement, also known as cooperative compliance, does not fit with current levels of enforcement staff at our state agencies.”

He asserts that budget cuts over the years have left environmental enforcement departments woefully understaffed, and repercussions for noncompliance are not strong enough to act as a deterrent to potential polluters. Full funding for staff and adequate penalties for noncompliance could go a long way to solve environmental problems.

Horstman says he would also like to see the Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) implemented, consideration given to future CAFO regulations and an effective economical interstate manure transport system developed.

Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy’s Summer Plans and How You Can Help

“Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy is very busy during the summer, with events, water quality monitoring, education, restoration projects, oyster restoration and kayak trips to name a few,” says Horstman.

There are many ways to get involved with Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy. Check out their website to review all the ways to help, including volunteering, becoming a member and summer internships.