Bay Journal

October 2011 - Volume 21 - Number 7

Storms leave trail of debris, sediments in their wake

From streams whose banks were shredded by floodwaters in New York, to a cascade of chocolate-brown water that spread halfway down the Chesapeake, severe late summer weather delivered a heavy blow to the Bay and its watershed.

In a one-two punch, Hurricane Irene, which hit the eastern portion of the watershed Aug. 27-28, and Tropical Storm Lee, which hit two weeks later, dumped more than 2 feet of rain in a two-week period on some parts of the watershed.

In places like Bradford County, in northern Pennsylvania, resulting floodwaters scoured out huge sections of land. "We have been on sites where farmers have lost 2 or 3 acres to 8 feet deep," said Mike Lovegreen, manager of the Bradford County Conservation District. "That's a lot of material headed toward the Chesapeake Bay." ...

Unexpected ozone decision reduces potential nutrient reduction benefits

A decision by the Obama administration to pull the plug on a stronger ozone pollution standard proposed by the EPA will likely reduce the benefits that Bay cleanup efforts reap from more stringent air pollution control measures.

Nitrogen oxides, a major contributor to ground-level ozone pollution, are also a large source of nitrogen pollution to the Bay. While exact figures are not available, the proposed ozone standard had the potential to reduce the amount of nitrogen pollution reaching the Chesapeake by several hundred thousand pounds a year. ...

Once it was the British, now trash is enemy at Bread & Cheese Creek

John Long moves with steady ease through the waters of Bread and Cheese Creek. Each sloshing step is a testimony to optimism.

His rubber-soled waders pass an endless trail of cast-offs. Christmas lights. Vodka bottles. A skateboard. Plastic flowers. A circuit board. Rusted metal. A bra. Fast food wrappers and soda bottles. Shoes. A wheelbarrow. A swimming pool ladder. A wheelchair, a bike, a stroller and a ridiculous number of shopping carts.

Yet Long sees a creek that's on the mend. ...

Agribusiness’ report critical of Bay Model called flawed, misleading

A scientific panel has concluded that a highly critical review of the EPA's Bay Model that was paid for by agricultural organizations was deeply flawed and provided no justification to halt the implementation of Chesapeake cleanup plans.

Last December, the Agricultural Nutrient Management Council, which is funded by the American Farm Bureau Federation and other farm organizations, released a report that compared results from the EPA's Watershed Model - which was used to set Bay nutrient reduction goals - to results from a model developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. ...

Feds, states must agree on goals for restoration to succeed

Efforts to restore the Chesapeake could be hampered by the failure of federal and state agencies to agree on clear goals to restore habitats, rebuild fish and wildlife populations and other priorities, according to a congressional report.

The Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan congressional watchdog, said that while states and the EPA have clear objectives to achieve Bay water quality goals, there is no consensus for many other restoration objectives.

"It is important for all partners in the restoration effort to be working toward the same goals," the GAO report said, adding that "identifying common goals is a key characteristic of successful collaborative efforts." ...

Growing Concern

This is the first in an occasional series in the Bay Journal.

Can we grow our way to a healthy Chesapeake?

Are continued economic expansion and the population increase needed to fill more jobs and consume more products compatible with a restored and sustainable Bay?

Since World War II, growth has been the policy objective against which all other objectives (like environmental protection) are judged, says historian Andrew Yarrow in "Measuring America-How Economic Growth Came to Define American Greatness." ...

New Bay Program director to renew attention on natural resources

With a background that includes working with nuclear submarine reactors, solid waste management, developing mercury control programs, regulating animal feedlots and removing a dam to restore a historic shad run, no one can say that Nicholas DiPasquale has lacked variety in the issues he has dealt with.

Recently named the fourth Bay Program director in the last decade, he may well need that versatility and experience as he seeks to lead six states, the District of Columbia, 11 federal agencies and hundreds of local governments and organizations in the effort to clean up the Bay's water and restore a healthy, biologically diverse ecosystem. ...

Female sturgeon caught in James suggests fall spawning run

For years, scientists were skeptical about whether any sturgeon spawned in the James River. Now, they know the giant fish not only spawn there, but a recent discovery suggests they may have two distinct spawning runs on the James.

Biologists on Sept. 9 captured a fish leaking eggs - only the second confirmed female caught on the James in recent history.

The late summer discovery of a "post-spawn" fish adds a little more credence to a suspicion fishery biologists had that while some James River sturgeon spawn in the spring like most other fish, others make a separate spawning run later in the year, said Greg Garman, director of the Center for Environmental Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. ...

Success of PA’s Growing Greener touted as funding dries up

Even during prosperous times, environmental programs compete with other interests for state funding. During a jittery economic climate, they can be first in line for budget cuts. That is unless such programs demonstrate they can protect nature while saving or generating other shades of green (money, that is).

Pennsylvania's Growing Greener Program fits that bill, say proponents of the program, and they note its track record of leveraging other funding sources to protect and restore the state's open spaces, working landscapes and waterways. They hope this will lead to reauthorization and sustained funding. ...

Agencies hope to have much stricter ballast rules in place soon

The U.S. Coast Guard and the EPA are hoping to soon have in place a new standard for ballast water.

The two agencies have been working on a standard since 2009, when they announced that they would like to introduce a standard that is 1,000 times more strict than the current one.

The International Maritime Organization Standard, which has been in place since 2004 as a guideline, limits the number of organisms in a tank to 10 per cubic meter of water. The proposed standard allows only one organism in 100 cubic meters of water. The agencies had planned to make the IMO standard mandatory and phase in the stricter standard. ...

Middens offer pearls of wisdom about Chesapeake’s geology

If oysters could talk, Darrin Lowery would probably understand their language.

A fireside chat is unlikely, so Lowery studies their shells instead - mounds of them. As a "geo-archaeologist" for the Smithsonian Institution, Lowery is part of a team investigating the history of coastal change along the Chesapeake's Eastern Shore.

Oysters, it turns out, have secrets to tell.

Many are revealed through the large, historic collections of oyster shells accumulated at American Indian fishing camps, called "middens." ...

Alliance honors George Hawkins

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay recently awarded its annual Environmental Leadership Award to George S. Hawkins, head of DC Water and former leader of the District of Columbia Department of Environment.

Under Hawkins' leadership, DC Water- which operates Blue Plains, the world's largest advanced waste water treatment plant - is designing and implementing the Clean Rivers Project that will nearly eliminate overflows of stormwater and sewage to the Anacostia and Potomac rivers and Rock Creek. He is also overseeing the installation of a biosolids digester that will become the largest source of renewable energy in the region, reduce the amount of biosolids from Blue Plains by half, and disinfect these biosolids to be clean enough to sell as fertilizer. ...

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