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Chesapeake Bay News

Archives: November 2009


Chesapeake Stories: A look back with Arthur Tuers

For high-quality video, watch on Vimeo.

At 79 years old, Arthur Tuers has been fishing, crabbing and boating on the Chesapeake Bay for quite some time. He began working at McNasby's Oyster Company in Annapolis at the youthful age of 10. In his time, he has seen the harvest of oysters plummet and noticed dramatic changes in crabbing, the clarity of the water and amount of pollution in the Bay. Like the rest of us, Art hopes for a restored Bay; but like few of us, he knows what it was like when you could "see your toenails" in five feet of water.

This is the first video in a new series called "Chesapeake Stories," where we explore the people, history and culture of the Chesapeake Bay region. If you have an idea for a Chesapeake story, contact us.

Alicia Pimental's avatar
About Alicia Pimental - Alicia is the Chesapeake Bay Program's online communications manager. She manages the Bay Program's web content and social media channels. Alicia discovered her love for nature and the environment while growing up along Buzzards Bay in Massachusetts. When she's not at work, Alicia enjoys cooking, traveling, photography and playing with her chocolate lab, Tess.


Question of the Week: The effect of storms on the Bay's health

Welcome to the latest installment of the BayBlog Question of the Week! Each week we take a question submitted through the Chesapeake Bay Program website and answer it here for all to read.

This week’s question is one a lot of people have been asking in recent days: With the nor’easter from Hurricane Ida blowing through the region, high winds, flooding and stormwater are on everyone’s minds. So what effect does a storm like this November nor’easter have on the Chesapeake Bay?

The amount of rain that falls on the Bay watershed has a direct effect on river flow, which is the volume of fresh water that flows into the Chesapeake from its tributaries. Typically, fresh water makes up about half of the Bay’s entire volume. When large amounts of rain fall in the region, such as during this nor’easter, it can tip the balance of fresh and salty water in the Bay.

A major issue associated with more rainfall is an increase in stormwater runoff, which carries dirt, trash, nutrients and other pollutants from our roads, lawns and parking lots into the Bay and its local waterways. Once in the water, this pollution can fuel the growth of algae blooms and harm underwater life, including crabs, oysters and bay grasses.

We’re already seeing the effects of this storm in Virginia, where officials have implemented a temporary ban on shellfish harvesting. The fear is that clams, oysters and scallops could become contaminated due to human and animal waste being washed into the Bay from tidal flooding.

High tides and flooding are certainly of concern to those who live by the Bay’s shores, but large storms like this have an effect on every stream, creek and river throughout the region. You can do your part to minimize the impact of storms and eliminate as much pollution as possible by picking up litter on the ground and covering bare spots in your yard to reduce erosion.

For more information about how weather affects the Bay and its watershed, check out our weather page.

Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Please send it to us through our web comment form. Your question might be chosen for our next BayBlog Question of the Week!

Keywords: questions, weather

Question of the Week: How do vehicles affect water pollution?

Welcome to this week’s installment of the BayBlog Question of the Week! Each week we'll take a question submitted through the Chesapeake Bay Program website and answer it here for all to read.

This week’s question comes from Roshni, who asked, “How does water become polluted when automobiles are used for transportation?”

The most important thing to understand is that almost everything we do as residents of the Bay watershed has an effect on the Chesapeake in the long run. With the movement of people from city centers to more suburban areas, we have had to rely more on traveling by car, which has led to the creation of more hardened “impervious” surfaces such as highways and parking lots.

Transportation and the roads, parking lots and driveways that facilitate it account for 55 to 75 percent of all paving in cities and towns. These lands used to be forested, and when they are paved over, there are fewer habitats for wildlife and fewer filters for Bay-bound pollution. Transportation infrastructure has also caused the land across the Bay watershed to become more fragmented over the past few decades, making it even harder for animals to find habitat or complete their migration routes. (Learn more about forest fragmentation.)

The act of driving vehicles also emits pollution into our air. The pollution from these emissions eventually falls back to the earth and is transported by runoff and groundwater into streams and rivers.

Stormwater runoff is a massive problem due to the ever-increasing amount of paved surfaces in the Bay watershed. Instead of rainwater being filtered and absorbed into the ground, it simply runs off hardened areas into nearby streams and rivers, eventually carrying the pollution into the Chesapeake Bay. In fact, stormwater runoff is the fastest growing pollutant to the Bay.

Remember, everything we do affects the Chesapeake Bay, beginning with your local creek or stream. But every little change helps! So help the Bay by starting a carpool with your coworkers or using public transportation to lessen the number of cars on the road and the amount of pollution being released into the air during your commute.

Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Please send it to us through our web comment form. Your question might be chosen for our next BayBlog Question of the Week!


EPA Sets Expectations for States, D.C., to Reduce Pollution to Chesapeake Bay and Rivers

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has given the six states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed – Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia – and the District of Columbia its expectations for the jurisdictions to reduce pollution to the Bay and its streams, creeks and rivers to meet federal water quality standards.

The expectations are part of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), a set of pollution limits that will reduce the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment that flows to the Bay and its tidal tributaries.

The EPA expects the six Bay states and D.C. to show how they will reduce pollution loads to levels necessary to meet water quality standards. The jurisdictions will create detailed schedules with specific timelines for implementing and achieving pollution reductions.

By 2010, the EPA expects the six Bay states and D.C. to identify gaps in current programs that must be addressed to meet pollution limits. By 2011, the seven jurisdictions must divide allocated pollution reductions to the local level so counties, municipalities, conservation districts and watershed organizations understand their role in meeting pollution reduction goals.

The EPA will measure the jurisdictions’ progress through two-year milestones that lead up to 2025, when all measures needed for a restored Bay must be put into place.

Should a jurisdiction fail to create an adequate plan or meet its performance milestones, the EPA may impose federal consequences. These consequences will be identified later this fall.

Read the full expectations letter from the EPA to the seven Bay jurisdictions, and visit the EPA’s website for more information about the Chesapeake Bay TMDL.

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