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Critical Infrastructure News

Effective July 1, 2015 in Maryland

The Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Research, Development, Regulation, and Privacy Act of 2015 gives the state government the exclusive power to regulate drone usage, and preempts municipalities and counties from supplying their own ordinances. The Act also requires Maryland's aviation administration, police and economic development department to research the "benefits and concerns" related to drone use, and propose ways in which drones can be used in authorized, safe ways. The research must also determine "the benefits [of drone use], including job creation, a cleaner environment, positive economic impacts, increased public safety and enhanced efficiencies." The results of this research are to be presented to Maryland state officials by the end of 2018. This will not affect the Federal rules over UAS operation.

Regulations for ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft are going into effect. The law requires background checks for drivers and addresses insurance minimums for ride-share companies that rely on cellphone GPS and messaging to set up passenger rides. Maryland Public Service Commission, which already regulates taxi companies in most of the state, will oversee the ride-share companies. But they are under a new regulatory framework for "transportation network services" that the companies find less burdensome than the structure applied to taxicabs. The legislation means drivers will not be fined for not registering as taxicabs.

New and reduced tolls go into effect on Maryland bridges, tunnels, and toll roads. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced the toll reductions in May, marking the first time in 50 years that the state's tolls have been rolled back. The cuts mean travelers this summer will pay less at key points such as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, the Intercounty Connector, and Interstate 95. The cash toll rate for two-axle vehicles at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, for example, will drop to $4 from $6, while the E-Z Pass discounted toll will be $2.50 round-trip, down from $5.40. This will save money for the thousands of travelers headed from the D.C. area to the Maryland beaches this weekend.

Potential Risk of Vibrio Infection from Natural Waters


Vibriosis (vibrio) is a rare but potentially dangerous infection associated with swimming in natural waters, particularly warm bodies of salt or brackish water such as the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Maryland averages approximately 25 cases of vibrio infection each year, according to state officials.

The vibrio vulnificus bacterium can cause an infection of the skin when open wounds are exposed to warm seawater. These infections may lead to skin breakdown and ulceration. While healthy people can also get sick, people with weakened immune systems, particularly those with chronic liver disease, are at increased risk for invasion of the organism into the bloodstream and potentially fatal complications.

There are steps that can be taken to avoid this bacterial infection:

  • Wait at least 48 hours after a significant rain event before swimming, and then swim in open waters. Rain events often create high bacteria counts in natural waters due to storm water runoff.
  • Use caution and avoid swimming when the natural water temperatures rise past 80 degrees.
  • Don't swim in natural waters if your immune system is compromised, if you have an infection, or if you have existing cuts or sores.
  • If you are injured while swimming (e.g., cut a finger while crabbing, get scraped by a shell or sharp object), thoroughly wash the wound when you get out of the water.
  • Shower thoroughly after swimming and before eating anything.
  • Wear gloves when handling raw shellfish or crabs and their drippings.
  • Keep open cuts and sores away from raw shellfish or crabs, their drippings, and coastal waters.
  • Do not eat raw or undercooked shellfish or crabs. Cook these items completely and throw away shellfish that do not open during cooking. Vibrio vulnificus bacteria are not a result of pollution so, although oysters should always be obtained from a reputable source, eating oysters from "clean" waters or in restaurants with high turnover does not provide protection. Only heat can destroy the bacteria.

Symptoms of vibrio can start from 12 to 72 hours after exposure. If you notice any symptoms of fever, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, or stomach pain after eating shellfish or crabs, or if there is increased swelling, redness, pain, or blistering at the site of a cut or sore, call your health care provider immediately.


Source: Saint Mary's County Health Department