Bernie Fowler saw his white sneakers through 26 inches of water during his annual wade-in on the Patuxent River on Sunday, June 8. While it was an increase from last year’s measurement of 21 inches and a vast improvement from the 8 inches recorded 20 years ago in 1988, this year’s measurement did not come close to the estimated 50-plus inches he could see through in the 1960s.
About 100 people braved the heat and humidity for Fowler’s 21st annual wade-in, ranging from schoolchildren to community residents to politicians and environmental leaders, including U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Maryland Secretary of the Environment Shari Wilson.
While the measurement -- called the “Sneaker Index” -- did not reach historically high levels, enthusiasm for the Bay’s future did, as speakers pointed out the significant increases in funding during the past year for the Chesapeake restoration effort.
Fowler, a retired Maryland state senator, hosts a wade-in at Broomes Island on the second Sunday of June each year to draw attention to declining water quality in the Patuxent and larger Chesapeake watershed. He speaks of the days of his youth when he could wade up to his shoulders in his beloved Patuxent and still see the river's bottom, teeming with crabs and fish swimming among the grasses and oyster shells.
Since Fowler's first wade-in, others have sprung up on tributaries across the state, becoming popular springtime community events.
View video from this year’s Bernie Fowler wade-in from WTOP.