Bay Journal

March 1995 - Volume 5 - Number 1

Detroit and Toronto meet the Bay

Sitting on the bank of the Ohio River, which drains into the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico, Cincinnati may seem far removed from the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The same may be said of Detroit, just north of Lake Erie, or Toronto, on the shore of Lake Ontario, or Knoxville, where the Holston and French Broad rivers join to form the Tennessee.

Those far-flung cities, nonetheless, are adding to the Bay's difficult-to-control nutrient problems, according to evidence from new computer model calculations. ...

Md. survey finds eagle numbers up

Maryland in January recorded the second highest number of bald eagles ever counted near the Chesapeake Bay during the 20 years it has conducted a midwinter eagle survey, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

"Surveys of both breeding and wintering bald eagle populations in Maryland continue to demonstrate the success of the Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts," said former Natural Resources Secretary Torrey Brown.

This winter, 194 bald eagles and one golden eagle were counted at three of the state's primary eagle concentration areas. That is second only to the 263 bald eagles counted in 1990. ...

Virginia General Assembly takes steps to leave ASMFC

Virginia would withdraw from the commission that manages fisheries along the Atlantic Coast under legislation that was overwhelmingly approved by both houses of the General Assembly.

The legislation takes aim at a law approved by Congress less than two years ago which forces states to abide by fishing restrictions set in management plans approved by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission or risk a federally enforced fishing moratorium.

The state Senate on Feb. 16 voted 36-3 to withdraw from the ASMFC effective July 1, 1996. The Senate bill was the same as one that cleared the House on a unanimous vote earlier in the year except its effective date, which is later. The House was expected to approve the change, which would send the bill to go to Gov. George Allen. ...

Settlement clears way for upgrade at Blue Plains

An upgrade of the District of Columbia's massive Blue Plains sewage treatment plant, which should dramatically reduce nitrogen discharges to the Potomac River, will begin soon under an agreement reached between the district and two federal agencies.

Under the agreement, the district will pay a $500,000 fine and invest millions of dollars to test the use of "biological nitrogen reduction" technology at the plant. The consent decree filed in federal court Jan. 24 resolves two lawsuits brought against the district by the EPA and the Department of Justice which alleged that past discharges from the plant violated the federal Clean Water Act. ...

Bay benefits from Clean Air Act in question as law is challenged

Across the Bay watershed and in states throughout the nation, efforts are under way to slow down or roll back implementation of the 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act.

Opponents in the states have been joined by lawmakers in Congress where, by early February, more than a dozen bills had been introduced to roll back portions of the Clean Air Act. One bill called for outright repeal of the law.

For the Chesapeake Bay, where about a quarter of the nitrogen entering the Bay is thought to come from air pollution, the stakes in this fight could be large. The 1990 amendments included the first major actions to control nitrogen emissions - emissions that fuel algae growth and degrade water quality when they reach the Bay. ...

Md., Pa. governors name new environmental leaders

The new state teams that will guide policies affecting the Bay in Pennsylvania and Maryland are taking shape as Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge and Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening have moved to fill top positions in their environmental agencies.

With new governors in those two states, as well as a new mayor in the District of Columbia, the top leadership in the Bay Program is undergoing its greatest change since the cooperative cleanup effort began in 1983.

In Maryland,Glendening named Jane T. Nishida to head the Maryland Department of the Environment. She was previously the Maryland Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Before joining CBF in 1992, Nishida was an assistant legislative officer in the governor's office in both the administrations of William Donald Schaefer and his predecessor, Harry Hughes. During that time, she worked on a variety of issues, including environmental protection legislation and the establishment of the state's nontidal wetland protection and forest conservation programs. She has also served as counsel to the House of Delegates Environmental Matters Committee and the Senate Economic Affairs Committee. ...

Blue crab survey raises questions about stock’s health

Chesapeake Bay blue crabs have made up about half of the nation's total crab harvest in recent years. In the Bay, the total catch out ranks all other shellfish species in both weight and value.

The Bay's blue crab species, Callinectes sapidus, is also found in coastal habitats along the Atlantic Coast, the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Altogether, it supports the largest single-species crab fishery in the world.

But some believe it may have been supporting too large a fishery in the Bay. ...

Scientists identify Bay air pollution research issues

The Chesapeake Bay airshed as defined by the EPA's Regional Acid Deposition Model is a landmark attempt at identifying the amount of nitrogen landing in the Bay watershed and where it is coming from.

But it does not directly address a key question: Just how much of the nitrogen that lands in the watershed actually reaches the Chesapeake to impact its water quality?

The exact answer is shrouded in uncertainty and unanswered questions.

Computer models used by the Bay Program, which use data from the government's ongoing National Acid Deposition Assessment Program, estimate that about 25 percent of the total nitrogen that reaches the Bay is the result of air pollution - a figure in line with other estimates made in the past eight years. ...

How the regional air pollution model works

The model used to identify emission sources affecting the Chesapeake Bay watershed was the EPA's Regional Acid Deposition Model, which was developed for the government's National Acid Precipitation and Assessment Program.

The model is three dimensional - it simulates the movement both vertically and horizontally across a region.

It covers the eastern United States - from Texas and North Dakota east to Maine and Florida - with 1,368 grids, each measuring 80 kilometers square. Stacked atop each grid are 15 vertical layers. The lowest layer reaches about 75 meters into the sky, and the layers increase in thickness as they go up. The top layer touches the bottom of the stratosphere, about 15 kilometers up. ...

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