Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Explore our list of frequently asked questions to learn more about the Bay and its watershed, habitats and wildlife. You can browse the FAQ by category, or explore the answers to some of our most common questions below.
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In general, nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous reach the Chesapeake Bay from three sources: wastewater treatment plants; urban, suburban and agricultural runoff; and air pollution. Nutrients can also come from natural sources, like soil, plant material and wild animal waste.
Because phytoplankton respond quickly to changes in nutrient levels, their population density acts as an indicator of nutrient pollution and Bay health.
Water clarity improves when less pollution washes off the land and into streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. You can help improve water clarity by fertilizing your lawn less and planting a buffer of trees and shrubs around your property. Also, when boating, make sure you obey wake laws so you don’t stir up bottom sediments in shallow areas.
Nutrient and sediment pollution are the main causes of the Chesapeake Bay’s poor water clarity. Nutrients fuel the growth of water-clouding algae blooms, while particles of sediment can float in the water. Weather also plays a role in water clarity: rain storms wash dirt and pollutants into the Bay, muddying the water.
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