The Potomac River estuary water quality needs improvement. (Courtesy of NOAA)
The Potomac River estuary water quality needs improvement. (Courtesy of NOAA)

Maryland’s Montgomery County continues to consider tougher lead standards for public school drinking water, equivalent to the federal standard for bottled water.

And a bill advancing in Maryland’s General Assembly in Annapolis would require the same change at all Maryland public schools, according to WTOP.

Montgomery County Council member Tom Hucker’s bill, introduced in February, would apply to the county’s public schools.

“Scientists know much more today than they did when the assembly passed the current statewide lead standard of 20 parts per billion back in 2006,” Hucker said ahead of a public hearing on the bill last month.

It’s still just one step in what experts said are many needed throughout the state.

A recent report from the D.C.-based financial website WalletHub revealed that Maryland was tied with Oklahoma, Louisiana and Kentucky for the worst water quality in the country proved just one of many studies to bear out those facts.

In December, the Maryland Board of Public Works approved more than $76 million in grants and loans to reduce pollution, save energy and improve drinking water systems.

The board is composed of Gov. Larry Hogan, Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot.

“These are smart investments to protect public health and the environment while saving money and energy in Maryland communities,” said Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles. “Upgrading the Westminster sewage treatment plant and septic systems across the state will help us to green and grow the state’s economy and lead in the race to protect and restore Chesapeake Bay watersheds.”

Making matters worse, earlier this month in Prince George’s County, a broken water main along Indian Head Highway led to water gushing onto the roadway, causing a boil-water advisory that rattled some residents.

One environmentally concerned couple donated their fishing boat for use as part of a new program to test water quality on a weekly basis.

“If you’ve ever seen D.C. on a Saturday in July, there’s just boats out there, and people are on stand-up paddle boards, falling in the water,” Dean Naujoks of the Potomac Riverkeeper Network told the DCist. “I just think people have a right to know whether it’s safe to go in or not.”

The 42-foot boat was donated to the Potomac Riverkeeper Network by retired Navy Adm. Paul Reason and his wife Diane Reason.

“The Potomac is my home river, I’m a native Washingtonian,” said Reason, who was the Navy’s first Black four-star admiral and commanded the Atlantic Fleet, DCist reported.

The Reasons had the boat built in 2006.

“It’s a traditional-hulled Chesapeake Bay deadrise,” Reason said.

A deadrise is a long, low-slung fishing boat – designed for the bay’s particular winds and currents and shallow waters.

“We’ve been building these boats on the Chesapeake Bay for hundreds of years,” he said.

Grumbles called the boat a “kind of a pollution hound” to make sure the Potomac River continues to improve.

“It’s more important now than ever before, when the federal government is not as focused on clean and safe water to have states, like Maryland, and localities, and communities and nonprofit organizations increase the number of eyes and ears on the water,” he said.

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Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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