Governor Larry Hogan Announces Funding for Back River Midge Treatments
$330,000 Investment Targeting Midge “Hot Spots” in Baltimore County
ANNAPOLIS, MD – Governor Larry Hogan today announced state funding to mitigate the midge infestation in the Back River area of Baltimore County. The insects have posed a nuisance that has had significant economic ramifications for tourism, local businesses, and community facilities.
The administration is dedicating over $330,000 to fund treatments for target “hot spots” in the region starting in the spring to provide relief for local residents and businesses through the summer and early fall, while working to assess the treatments’ effectiveness. In October 2016, Governor Hogan offered to have the state split the cost of a more extensive treatment program with Baltimore County, but county officials refused the state’s offer.
“The county really has the responsibility to address this problem but has continually refused to do anything about it, and has ignored the pleas of Baltimore County citizens,” said Governor Hogan. “Despite the county’s refusal to act, we have decided to move forward anyway in order to provide a measure of relief for the area prior to the next boating and tourism season, and we hope that the county will see fit to join in and add county funding as well.”
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources conducted a study in 2014, following numerous complaints from residents and business owners, which concluded that nutrient pollution from the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant is the likely cause of the midge infestation in the area. Upgrades to the plant are on track to be completed by 2018, but the infestation still poses an immediate impact to marinas, restaurants with outdoor seating, and other small businesses, as well as activities at a local senior center.
The governor announced the funding at a Board of Public Works meeting, as well as an additional $4 million for the Maryland Department of the Environment’s enhanced nutrient removal upgrade project at the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant to provide a long term solution.
Following the report, the Maryland Department of Agriculture and Department of Natural Resources recommended that targeted applications of Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies israelensis (Bti) be completed on test areas in Back River, which is now made possible with the state funds announced today.