U.S. Water News Online
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Chesapeake Bay is in miserable shape,
according to an environmental group that recently gave bay health a D
grade for an eighth consecutive year.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation gave the bay failing grades for
pollution, dissolved oxygen, water quality and underwater grasses
important to help filter the water. Even the bright spots in the
report -- an increase in oysters, for example -- were only marginal
improvements. Oyster health scored 3 out of 100 last year; in 2006
oysters improved to 4 out of 100.
Will Baker, president of the nonprofit environmental group, said
he considered it unlikely the Chesapeake Bay would meet 2010 goals
for improvement without more cleanup efforts from surrounding states.
"Clearly a great deal more needs to be done," Baker said.
The group said bay health is only slightly better than last year
-- up two points to 29 out of 100 -- but nowhere near close to
healthy on most of the 13 indicators of bay health, including
dissolved oxygen levels, water clarity and the health of oysters and
The slight improvement, Baker said, was largely attributable to a
dry spring. Rain flushes pollutants such as nitrogen into the bay, so
dry spells can help clear up the water.
"This year's improvement was driven partly by Mother Nature,"
A government agency that also monitors the bay -- the Chesapeake
Bay Program -- said summer low-oxygen zones shrank in the bay this
year. That report showed that 1.79 percent of the bay was anoxic, or
had too little oxygen for most species to survive, compared to about
4.5 percent last year.
Baker called on Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania to adopt
better incentives for farmers to reduce runoff into the rivers and
creeks that lead to the bay. Pennsylvania's legislature, he said, is
considering a new incentive program, but has not yet approved it.
The foundation noted that expensive sewage-treatment upgrades in
Maryland and Virginia would improve water quality, but those upgrades
probably haven't had time to be reflected in the report card. Baker
said he believes it's possible to reach water quality goals set by
surrounding states by 2010 -- but not without even more money for
"It's time to get serious about saving the bay," he said.
Bill Dennison, a faculty member at the University of Maryland
Center for Environmental Science, did not help compile the CBF report
card but said it falls in line with findings of other reports that
bay health is improving, but not by much.
"I don't think we've turned the corner" on bay restoration,
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