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Chesapeake Bay News


Magothy River health continues to be poor, according to latest report card

The Magothy River in Anne Arundel County, Md., received a D-minus on its latest health report card, the same grade as last year but a significant decline from several years ago, according to the Magothy River Association’s latest Magothy River Index.

The index assesses the river’s health according to three indicators: water clarity, dissolved oxygen and bay grasses. Bay grass acreage in the river decreased in 2007 and water clarity diminished in 2008. Scores for both have remained low ever since.

Low dissolved oxygen at the surface of several creeks is also a problem in the river. Upper Mill and Dividing creeks had the worst surface dissolved oxygen, suggesting that pollution problems that lead to low oxygen levels are worse in those areas.

Despite the low scores, the Magothy River Association is looking to the future to help restore the river. The group is working with scientists to explore if any native species of bivalves other than oysters could be used to help clean up the river. Bivalves can help filter algae out of the water as they feed, but oysters can’t live in many parts of the Magothy because the water is too fresh. One species that may help is dark false mussels, which helped improve water clarity and bay grass acreage in one Magothy River creek in 2005 when they were abundant.

The Magothy River Association also encourages its members and area residents to take small steps to help reduce pollution to the river. Planting more native trees and flowers, installing rain gardens, reducing use of lawn fertilizer and maintaining septic systems are a few of the tips the group suggests. These practices will help reduce pollution no matter where you live.

The Magothy River Index is an annual health report developed by Dr. Peter Bergstrom, a NOAA scientist and Magothy River Association member. The index uses scientific data from state agencies and volunteer water quality monitors. The Magothy River Association has released the index each year since 2003.

For more information, visit the Magothy River Association’s website.



Norann A. Beck says:
August 22, 2012

The Magothy River pollution this year, 2012, is worse than ever. The oyster program has not been successful and is, unfortunately, considered a failure amonst those living along the waterfront. Every potential water filtering oyster introduced into the river in cages dies promptly leaving only empty oyster shells. This year there is a thick brown layer often covered with brown bubbles from gases rising to the surface. The waste appears to be from septic related runoff and or ship/boater dumping since the levels of bacteria seem to be increasing. If there is a plan in progress, the local communities are not aware of it. Many would be very willing to allow the placement of grass nurseries as seen in the Baltimore Harbor and other harbor cities. Perhaps offering education and support on building oyster beds would be well received by those residents who wish to help. I believe that installing public sewer systems in the Pasadena area would solve much of the septic runoff into the river. The further upriver you go, the worse the pollution. This is not a large farming region where the use of fertilizers could be blamed for the increasing polution. There has been a significant reduction of building runoff sediment due to the slow economy the past several years. Perhaps considering some new regulations for protecting our waters by restricting the use of lawn chemicals and herbicides should be considered along the shorelines. Come visit us. The situation is very serious and very sad.

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