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Chesapeake Bay Watershed Population

As of 2013, 17.8 million people were estimated to live in the Bay watershed, up from 17.7 million in 2012. Experts predict the watershed’s population will increase to 21.4 million by 2040.

2010 Population

Population (2010)

Map: Population (2010)

Date created: Aug 05 2011 / Download

This map shows population estimates within the Chesapeake Bay watershed on a county-by-county basis for the year 2010. These are actual Census Bureau population figures provided after the last decennial census (2010). However, for counties not completely within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the population numbers were derived as a proportion of the total county based on land area.


The way people use the land has a major effect on the Bay and its local waterways. Natural areas like forests and wetlands have a positive effect on the Bay’s health, whereas developed lands generally contribute more pollution.

The Chesapeake Bay’s decline is directly linked to the rise in the number of people that live in the watershed. Since 1950, the Bay watershed’s population has more than doubled.

Long-term trend (since start of data collection)

From 1950 through 2013, the Bay watershed’s population increased from 8,382,880 to 17,846,104.

Short-term trend (10-year trend)

Between 2000 and 2010, the watershed’s population increased 10.6 percent. This is compared to a 10.3 percent increase in the 1990s and an 11.6 percent increase in the 1980s.

Change from previous year (2012-2013)

As of 2013, 17,846,104 people were estimated to live in the Bay watershed, up from 17,713,077 in 2012.

Additional Information

Variations in Population Growth

Although the Bay watershed’s overall population continues to grow, population changes vary from state to state and region to region. Some areas are gaining population at a high rate. In other areas, population is leveling out or declining.

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