The Bay's health fell one point, to 28, in the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's most recent "State of the Bay" report, which found no improvements in any of its 13 indicators.
"Restoring the Bay is not rocket science," said CBF President Will Baker. "What does it say about a society when we can put a man on the moon but are not be able to save the Chesapeake Bay?"
Last year, the CBF scored the Bay at 29 on its 100-point scale-the highest rating since the report was launched in 1998.
This year's decline was the result of increased phosphorus pollution, decreased water clarity and signs of problems for the Bay's blue crab population.
To come up with its score, the CBF compares the current status of 13 indicators with what their condition is thought to have been before European settlement. It averages those scores together to come up with the overall index. A perfect 100 score would represent a "pristine" Bay, which the CBF says is unattainable. But the foundation does say an eventual score of about 70 is possible. It's goal is to reach 40 by 2010 Here are the scores for 2007, and the CBF's basis for changes:
DISSOLVED OXYGEN: 16, NO CHANGE
Dissolved oxygen was better than predicted, but largely because of factors unrelated to pollution, such as the dry and sometimes windy summer conditions that helped to limit the extent of oxygen-starved water.
NITROGEN: 17, NO CHANGE & PHOSPHORUS: 23, DOWN 6
Pollution loads are closely related to river flows. Heavy spring rains delivered large loads of nitrogen and phosphorus, offsetting the reduced pollution during summer drought months. While pollution from the Susquehanna was similar to 2006, pollution from other major rivers such as the James and Potomac, which deliver a higher percentage of phosphorus than nitrogen, increased.
WATER CLARITY: 14, DOWN 1
Extensive algal blooms occurred from Baltimore Harbor to the mouth of the Bay at Virginia Beach this summer. Some scientists said it was one the worst years for blooms in recent history.
TOXICS: 27, NO CHANGE
Progress to reduce toxic pollution to the Bay has been slow, in part because many problem chemicals such as mercury and PCBs are very persistent. In addition, many new chemicals from antibiotics to birth control pills are flushed down the drain each year and growing evidence suggests they are a cause for concern.
RIPARIAN FOREST BUFFERS: 56, NO CHANGE
Pennsylvania planted more than 600 miles of forest buffers in 2006, but the pace has slowed in Maryland and Virginia where planting rates have hit their lowest levels in years.
WETLANDS: 42, NO CHANGE
While regulatory programs report a gain in wetlands in recent years, much of that is being offset as wetlands are lost to erosion, land subsidence and illegal filling. Existing wetlands are threatened by projects such as the proposed Intercounty Connector highway in Maryland and the King William Reservoir in Virginia.
UNDERWATER GRASSES: 18, NO CHANGE
Overall abundance of underwater grasses appeared little changed. While some areas such as Tangier Sound reported increases, many others were down. Baywide, acreage remains a fraction of historic levels.
RESOURCE LANDS: 29, NO CHANGE
Despite a slowing housing market, the pace of sprawling development is high. While farmland losses appear to have slowed, the loss of forests continues at the rate of 100 acres a day.
ROCKFISH: 71, NO CHANGE
Striped bass populations remain near historic highs, but widespread disease among the population suggests the current state of the Bay-with fewer menhaden and poor water quality-may not be able to support such a large population.
BLUE CRABS: 36, DOWN 2
Poor reproduction in 2006 contributed to reduced numbers in 2007. The 2005 die-off of eelgrass, a critical habitat for juvenile crabs, likely played a role in the reduction. The crab catch has been about 30 percent below average for the last eight years.
OYSTERS: 4, NO CHANGE
The Great Wicomico River reported strong reproduction, likely the result of restoration efforts, but reproduction in many other areas was likely hindered by blooms of harmful algae. Hatchery production for restoration efforts fell from their record 2006 levels because of poor water quality in nearby rivers.
SHAD: 10, NO CHANGE
Shad runs were mixed in the region, with the Potomac having a good run, while the Susquehanna had another poor year and other rivers were about average.