Sediment

Sand, silt and clay are a natural part of the Chesapeake Bay. But in excess amounts, sediment can cloud the waters of the Bay and its tributaries, harming underwater life.

FAQ

  • How does sediment affect the Bay?

    Sediment is made up of loose particles of sand, silt and clay. It is a natural part of the Chesapeake Bay, created by the weathering of rocks and soil. In excess amounts, sediment can cloud the waters of the Bay and its tributaries, blocking sunlight for underwater grasses, covering bottom habitats (such as oyster beds) as it settles and reducing water quality for fish and other aquatic species.

  • What causes poor water clarity?

    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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Terms

  • Agriculture

    The science or practice of farming, including growing crops and raising animals for the production of food, fiber, fuel and other products.

  • Chemical contaminants

    Pesticides, pharmaceuticals, metals and other toxic substances that can harm the health of both humans and wildlife.

  • Deforestation

    The removal of a forest, woodland or stand of trees without adequate replanting or natural regeneration.

  • Ecosystem

    A natural unit formed by the interaction of a community of plants and animals with the environment in which they live. All of the elements of an ecosystem interact with each other in some way, depending on each other directly or indirectly.

  • Erosion

    The disruption or movement of soil by wind, water or ice, occurring naturally or as a result of land use practices.

  • Nutrients

    Chemicals that plants and animals need to grow and survive but, in excess amounts, can harm aquatic environments. Elevated levels of the nutrients nitrogen and phosphorous are the main cause of poor water quality in the Chesapeake Bay.

  • Reforestation

    The natural or intentional restoration of a forest, woodland or stand of trees that had been lost due to fire, cutting or other method of deforestation.

  • Reservoir

    A natural or artificial place where water is collected or stored for use, especially water for supplying a community, irrigating land and furnishing power.

  • Sediment

    Loose particles of sand, silt and clay that settle on the bottom of rivers, lakes, estuaries and oceans. Suspended sediment pushed into the water by erosion is one of the biggest impairments to water quality in the Chesapeake Bay.

  • Tributary

    A creek, stream or river that flows into a larger body of water. For example, the Susquehanna, Potomac and James rivers are tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay.

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