Bay Journal

January 2002 - Volume 11 - Number 10

Developing a better watershed

Of all the problems facing the Bay, the hardest one to deal with may be concrete.

Every day, streets, driveways, parking lots and other hard surfaces, such as rooftops, collect a massive dose of nutrients and chemicals.

They include wastes from pets, air pollutants that fall from the sky, oils and antifreeze dripped from cars, wastes dumped by residents, fertilizers sloppily applied to lawns — and a nearly endless array of other substances.

And, every time it rains, those byproducts of everyday life are collected and swept down the storm drain, ultimately pouring into the local stream. ...

Bay Journal officially recognized at ceremony

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay is proud to announce that the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation has officially awarded the Bay Journal the organization's 2001 Excellence in Journalism Award.

Although the award was announced earlier this year, it was officially presented by RNRF Chairman David Moody to Editor Karl Blankenship at a Nov. 28 ceremony.

The award recognizes the Bay Journal for its commitment to informing the public through accurate and scientifically based reporting on issues concerning the Bay. ...

Businesses for the Bay honors 17 with 2001 Excellence Awards

The Bay Program recently announced the recipients of it Businesses for the Bay Excellence Awards for 2001. The annual awards recognize voluntary efforts by businesses and governments to reduce the amount of pollution entering the Bay.

“Businesses for the Bay members are not only talking about protecting the Bay, they are actively taking steps to protect it, said Chesapeake Bay Program Acting Director Diana Esher. “By preventing pollution at its source, these businesses are committing to being part of the solution, not part of the problem.” ...

Council urges senators to back conservation measures in Farm Bill

Chesapeake Executive Council members signed a joint letter calling on senators from the Bay states to support changes in the Farm Bill that would dramatically boost conservation funding in the Bay region.

³Farmers in the Chesapeake Bay region have demonstrated that they want to do their part to improve water quality, enhance wildlife habitat, reduce harmful sprawl and help restore the Bay,” they said in the Dec. 7 letter.

“We are at a critical crossroads with our efforts to restore the nation’s treasure, the Chesapeake Bay,” they stated. “Recent monitoring and modeling information clearly documents that more must be done to reduce nutrients entering the Bay.” ...

Executive Council says economy shouldn’t hinder Bay cleanup

Despite looming budget shortfalls at the state and federal levels, leaders of the Bay cleanup, at their annual meeting, called for stepped-up efforts to restore the Bay.

The three members of the Executive Council who attended the group’s Dec. 3 meeting were unified in their calls for new spending to help meet Bay restoration goals outlined in their Chesapeake 2000 agreement.

“I know there are some who are suggesting that in the current economic slowdown we need to scale back our efforts to protect and restore the environment,” said Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening. “Let me urge that we reject that notion. If we can afford to subsidize sprawl, we can certainly afford to invest in protecting the Bay.” ...

ChesSIE helps educators, students surf Internet for Bay resources

As more teachers, educators and students turn to the Internet for information about the health of the Chesapeake, the Bay Program has launched “ChesSIE” — a web-based clearinghouse designed to make Bay education easier and more accessible for teachers and their students.

ChesSIE — Chesapeake Science on the Internet for Educators — enable teachers and education professionals throughout the 64,000-square-mile watershed to tap into Bay-related resources across the Internet through a single site at www.bayeducation.net. ...

November streamflow to Bay 75 percent below average

Low rainfall and warm temperatures in November contributed to record low streamflow into the Chesapeake Bay for the month, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Freshwater flows into the Bay averaged 9.3 billion gallons per day during the month, which is 75 percent below the long-term average for November, according to the USGS.

In fact, streamflow was below average in every month of the year except January and April. The result is that 2001 will be the third straight year where flows into the Bay were below the long-term average. ...

Agencies, groups offer support, concern for use of foreign oysters

The Virginia Seafood Council is drafting a five-year plan that will likely call for using millions of fast-growing, nonnative oysters in aquaculture in the Chesapeake Bay, something that could revitalize the state’s beleaguered oyster industry.

But a flurry of papers from government agencies, scientists and others are calling for a go-slow approach when the industry groups’ plan is submitted for action by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, probably this spring.

The position statements generally oppose any large-scale aquaculture, even with sterile oysters, until more safeguards are in place to help ensure that oysters are not accidentally released into the wild. ...

Diseases, spurred by dry conditions, take toll on Bay’s oysters

Disease and poor reproduction teamed up to produce bad news for oysters in both Maryland and Virginia.

Officials in both states reported poor “spat sets” — a measurement of reproduction — in almost all areas of the Chesapeake and its tributaries during 2001.

Meanwhile, three consecutive years of lower-than-normal freshwater flows into the Bay have allowed diseases to reach further upstream, infecting oysters in areas usually safe from the deadly parasites MSX and Dermo.

“Over the past couple of years, areas that used to be pretty much mortality-free have lost a lot of oysters,” said Roy Scott, a biologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. “You used to have pretty significant areas of good survivorship, but the last couple of years, they have turned pretty sour.” ...

Congress passes bill to clean up, redevelop ‘brownfield’ sites

Just before its holiday break, Congress passed the biggest environmental bill of the year, a five-year venture giving states up to $200 million annually to clean up more than 500,000 polluted industrial sites.

The bill won final passage in the House and the Senate after lawmakers agreed that a federal prevailing wage law should apply to the new state grants program for cleanups.

The bill is aimed at promoting the redevelopment of abandoned urban industrial sites that may have lingering contamination problems. By redeveloping such sites, known as ‘brownfields,’ advocates hope to both revitalize urban areas and help curb the development of farms and other rural areas. ...

Monitoring program still going strong in Virginia

Nearly 120 Virginia volunteers are collecting valuable water quality information along the Bay and its rivers as part of the Alliance’s Chesapeake Bay Citizen Monitoring Program.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, as well as the Department of Conservation and Recreation through a Virginia Coastal Resources Management Program grant, will fund the program through fall 2003. The Alliance has also submitted a proposal to the Nonpoint Source Pollution Management Program.

Since 1985, at least 400 volunteers at more than 300 sites monitored water quality along the nearshore areas of the Bay and its tributaries. All data is available online at the Alliance’s web page, www.acb-online.org/monitoring/site.cfm ...

Maryland tab for Bay goals put at $7 billion

Maryland officials estimate it will cost almost $1 billion a year from now to the end of the decade for the state to reach its goals under the Chesapeake 2000 agreement.

In a recently completed analysis, state officials concluded that efforts to control nutrients, restore habitat, improve stormwater management and other actions required under the agreement would cost about $7 billion, just for Maryland.

Current levels of state, federal, local government and private funding — if maintained — would cover about two-thirds of that expense, leaving a funding gap of about $2.6 billion. ...

Watershed center offers ‘22 Principles of Better Site Design’

Almost everyone can agree that they would like better development, but not everyone can agree what a good site design actually is.To change that, the nonprofit Center for Watershed Protection in 1997 launched a two-year stakeholder process that involved 30 representatives from government agencies, builders groups, professional associations, environmentalists, local planners and others.

The result was agreement on 22 specific Better Site Design techniques that conserve natural areas, save money, reduce pollution and increase property values. ...

Rappahannock roundtables pave way for better development

When Virginia completed a strategy to guide the cleanup of the Rappahannock River a few years ago, John Tippett saw a grim message in it.

Unless something was done to control runoff from his fast-growing area of Virginia’s Piedmont, the Rappahannock would have little hope of ever achieving its cleanup goals.

Growth in and around Fredericksburg — located on the Interstate 95 corridor on the outer cusp of the Washington, D.C. area — was likely going to offset cleanup efforts undertaken by others. ...

Program aims to build better relations between developers, environmentalists

Envision this: groups of home builders and environmentalists working hand-in-hand at the local level to protect open spaces and curb the harmful effects of growth on streams.

That’s the concept behind Builders for the Bay, a new program aimed at finding common ground among groups often at odds so that both will benefit — better stream quality for environmental concerns, and reduced costs and regulatory hurdles for developers.

“These are not folks who normally spend a lot of time together,” noted Bill Matuszeski, former director of the EPA’s Bay Program Office. “But I think it is ultimately going to be great because they are going to see the commonality of their interests.” ...

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