The Chesapeake Bay scored a “C” on the recently released 2013 Chesapeake Bay report card from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Integration and Application Network.
The report card grades the condition of 15 regions of the Bay, and the Chesapeake overall, based on seven indicators of water quality and aquatic health, such as water clarity, underwater grasses, dissolved oxygen, benthic communities and nutrient levels.
The report card shows that the best news is at the two ends of the Bay: The Upper Bay, Upper Western Shore and Patapsco/Back rivers at the northern end of the Bay showed improving trends (though the Patapsco/Back Rivers still scored an overall “F”).
At southern end of the Bay, the James River and Elizabeth River showed improving trends.
The Mid-Bay and Upper Eastern Shore showed declining trends. All other areas showed no trends, including the Lower Western Shore, Patuxent River, Potomac River, Rappahannock River, York River, Choptank River, Lower Eastern Shore and Lower Bay.
Overall, the healthiest region is the lower Bay — the region most influenced by the ocean — which scored a B-. The Patuxent scored an F, while the Lower Western Shore got a D-, the Patuxent and Upper Eastern Shore got Ds and the Elizabeth River, York River and Mid-Bay each got a D+. Everyplace else scored a C or C-.
If the C grade for the overall Bay seems high relative to its parts, it’s because the report card uses a slightly different scale for the overall Chesapeake, which includes fishery indicators that helped improve the overall score for 2013.
The full report card can be read here.