Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Chesapeake Bay judged healthiest it's been in 33 years

Virginia Tech map
"For the first time in the 33 years that scientists have assessed the health of the Chesapeake Bay, the nation’s largest estuary showed improvement in every region, a likely sign that a massive federal cleanup plan is working," reports Darryl Fears of The Washington Post. "The bay’s overall grade is a C, because some areas, such as the Patuxent, Patapsco and York rivers, are bouncing back from near-failure. The category of water clarity faltered, falling to an F from last year’s D. But the James River area and the lower stem of the bay closer to the Atlantic both earned grades of at least B-, their highest ever, and shored up the overall score."

Bill Dennison, vice president for science application at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, told Fears, “We have seen individual regions improving before but not the entire Chesapeake Bay. It seems that the restoration efforts are beginning to take hold.”

Under the cleanup plan, which Barack Obama ordered as president in 2010, the states in the bay watershed "agreed to substantially improve wastewater treatment facilities and decrease runoff from farms once responsible for significant amounts of waste reaching the rivers and streams that run into the bay," Fears writes. "Although President Trump tried to eliminate the plan’s funding in his fiscal 2018 budget proposal and cut it by 90 percent for fiscal 2019, congressional support for the restoration effort remains strong."

While the report is upbeat, it warns of possible trouble ahead. Read more here.

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