With its strong economy, diverse communities and numerous natural and historical attractions, it's no wonder that more than 17 million people call the Chesapeake Bay watershed home. However, the current rate of population growth has raised concerns about whether the region can sustain not only humans, but all of the animals and plants that live here.
Water quality is inextricably linked to population growth. Each individual that lives in the Bay watershed directly affects the Bay and its rivers by adding waste and pollutants, consuming natural resources and changing the landscape to fit their needs. Population growth leads to urbanization and development: more people means more land is converted to homes, roads and stores to accommodate them.
Restoration efforts that began over 20 years ago to improve Bay conditions are now being hampered by the effects of development associated with a growing population. Polluted stormwater that runs off roads, parking lots and other impervious surfaces is now the fastest growing segment of pollution to the Bay.
Between 1985 and 2005, the human population of the Bay watershed grew by about 3 million, from 13.5 million to 16.6 million. The watershed's population is currently estimated to be growing by about 157,000 people per year. Experts predict that the population will increase to nearly 20 million by 2030.
Populations of states in the Bay watershed are growing mostly due to natural increases—the number of births minus the number of deaths. However, at least 30 percent of recent population growth in Delaware and Virginia has been due to domestic and/or international migration.
While the overall population of the Bay watershed continues to grow, population changes vary from state to state and region to region. Some areas are gaining population at a high rate, while populations in other areas are leveling out or declining.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Inspector General (IG) released on Sept. 10 an evaluation report.
Publication date: December 01, 1988 | Type of document: Report | Download: Electronic Version
A major force in establishing the present land use pattern has been the desire of people to locate primary residences in low density settings and second homes near the water. Unfortunately, development in agricultural, forest, and shore…