Nutrient, sediment reductions not a panacea for the Bay

The EPA may be about to impose burdensome restrictions on the citizens of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, but reducing the inputs of sediment and nutrients to Bay will not:

1. Revive the oyster populations. Revival is certainly needed but the culprits have been disease and reef destruction. The article, "Aquaculture most likely future for Bay's oysters" [October 2010] about the thriving aquaculture of disease-resistant oysters said nothing about nutrients or sediment. Apparently the Bay as it is provides sufficient food and oxygen.

2. Revive the crab populations. They are already at 100 percent of the EPA target because of the management of the fishery.

3. Revive the rockfish population. They have been at 100 percent of the target for at least a decade because of fishery management.

4. Revive the shad populations. They have been increasing as dams are demolished, opening passage to their breeding areas, but they are still diminished because of the lack of management.

5. In general, make any difference at these higher trophic levels that are valued by most people who use the Bay for a livelihood or recreation. The nutrient and sediment reductions may decrease chlorophyll a levels, increase summertime oxygen levels, add more submerged aquatic vegetation and perhaps, in general, make differences at the lower trophic levels. However, such differences will only be noticed by marine scientists. If the EPA cannot promise benefits at the trophic levels of interest to the general public they should not expect public support for their demands.

Thomas P. O'Connor
Fairfax, VA

Acknowledge both sides in animal manure debate

While I agree that animal waste as fertilizer is a phosphorus problem, and portions of the commentary, "Reduce nutrient pollution where it will be most meaningful: animal waste" [September 2010] were well-researched, I challenge the author to carry through more deeply and fairly with his research.

This is regarding the phrases: "there is no excuse" and "to protect the profits of special interests." Sorry to be critical for a job mostly well done, but both statements show a lack of acknowledgment of the driving force behind using animal waste as fertilizer.

Commentaries should be fair if they are to appeal to the reader. It's OK to acknowledge the problem the other side faces. I don't think there are special interests driving this problem. The business world meets consumer demands. There is only us, the consumer and our purchase and living habits to blame.

Forget blame, move on to the solution by meeting the challenges the farmers face with manure management. The challenge of managing manure is an excellent "excuse," and from there better solutions need to be sought.

On another note, what kind of sludge has 150 pounds of plant available nitrogen and 175 pounds phosphorus? Because that is atypical for wastewater treatment plant biosolids, perhaps the author could do a little more research there, too.

I challenge the Bay Journal to promote fairness and continue to avoid commentaries that spin, spin, spin. I like to rely on the Bay Journal for reliable information and too much spin gets in the way.

Annie Williams
Submitted by e-mail