Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chesapeake Bay

Chesapeake Bay Center at First Landing State Park, Virginia Beach, VA

The Chesapeake Bay is an awesome body of water with a rich history and wide-spread economic impact. Today, the Bay is said to generate $1 trillion a year into the regional and national economy.

I have been interested in the Chesapeake Bay since I learned runoff from the watershed, which includes Pennsylvania, produces excess sediment and runoff that threatens the bay’s water quality. We don’t often think about how our lawn chemicals, parking lot overflow, fuels, sewage or farm fertilizers affect a large body water. The pollution starts small in local streams and gradually finds its way into the Chesapeake.

According to the Chesapeake Bay Program, about runoff:

“Changes in chemical conditions, such as the addition of nutrients, can cause rapid increases in the amount of algae. These algal blooms can have serious consequences. They block light from reaching submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) beds. Even after they die, they can cause problems. Deposition and subsequent decomposition of large masses of plankton in the mainstem of the Bay can deplete dissolved oxygen, suffocating other estuarine animals.”

A lot has been done in the past few years. Cooperation between state and federal agencies set standards and goals to clean up the 64,000 square mile watershed that stretches from New York to Virginia. According to the Chesapeake Bay Program “Bay Barometer” so far progress is slow but steady.

In May 2009, the “ ‘Strategy for Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay Watershed’ was developed under the executive order issued by President Obama … which declared the Chesapeake Bay a national treasure and ushered in a new era of shared federal leadership, action and accountability.”

From its glacial beginning through the Indian settlements to the landing of the English in 1607 up to today, the Bay’s natural habitats, abundant fish and game, shipping channels and recreational facilities have been vital.

Hopefully, we will watch the heron fly, see the osprey nest, swim and play, eat blue crab, oysters, bass, and watch the dolphins play in the Chesapeake for many years to come.


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