Bay Journal

December 1996 - Volume 6 - Number 9

EPA considers stricter ozone, particulate standards

In a decision that could have broad health and economic implications, the EPA was expected to announce tougher air quality rules in late November that could compel many cities to begin new smog controls.

The proposal was expected to create a more strict federal ozone standard and to further reduce particulate pollution in the air. Both particulate pollution and ozone - a key component of summertime smog - affect human health.

But a stricter ozone standard, in particular, could also benefit the Bay cleanup effort. Nitrogen oxides, which are a major contributor to ozone pollution, are also a major source of nutrient pollution to the Chesapeake. Computer models estimate that more than a quarter of all the nitrogen entering the Bay results from air pollution. ...

Va. says Potomac cleanup could cost $193 million

Virginia has completed a draft strategy to guide nutrient reduction efforts in the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers which, for the first time, estimates the cost of achieving the 40 percent nutrient reduction goal for its portion of the river basin.

The draft strategy said it would take five to nine years to implement the plan, implicitly acknowledging that the year 2000 nutrient reduction goal will not be met. The total cost over that time could hit $193 million, the draft document said. ...

Signing up for better Bay

Travelers on the major highways to and from Ocean City, Md., are getting a lesson in geography and the environment - all while driving 55 mph past new highways signs that mark the boundary of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The first new signs, unveiled on U.S. Route 50 and Maryland Route 90, were unveiled Nov. 14 by members of the Chesapeake Bay Commission at a ribbon- cutting ceremony.

The signs are original works of art reflecting the symbols of the Bay - blue crabs, striped bass, herons, marshes and clean water. They are part of an educational effort to help the public understand more about the Bay restoration and are intended to highlight the concept of a watershed - or drainage basin ...

Monitoring program helps pinpoint sites for restoration

Tony Cincibus' weathered boat cut through a wide orange swath created by the sun setting on the Middle River. He slowed the boat as it reached a place where a vast, flourishing bed of Eurasian watermilfoil had disappeared, seemingly overnight.

"I remember when the grass here was so thick we had to drag a bedspring back and forth through it in the spring, just to be able to get a boat in," he said. "The water was crystal clear then; you could see right down to the bottom."

The loss of the grasses and the habitat they provided was disheartening to Cincibus, a welding supervisor, carpenter and wildlife artist who has chaired the fishing committee of a local club for two decades. In recent years, he has experimented with different ways to get grasses back in the river, but with little success. ...

Restoring aquatic plants a grassroots effort

Outfitted in scuba gear, Glenn Page was exploring the bottom of the St. Mary's River, a waterway that 350 years ago served as the entry point for Maryland's first colonists.

But Page, submerged in about 3 feet of water, wasn't looking for relics that dated to colonial times. He was looking for something left a few days earlier - grasses.

A week before, Page, watershed restoration program director with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and a team of scientists and resource managers had dug up eelgrass from a bed on the Virginia side of the Potomac. They brought about 200 plants to the St. Mary's, where underwater grasses have almost vanished. ...

Cancelling pollution

The U.S. Postal Service has joined the state-federal Bay restoration effort, encouraging its 1,500 post offices throughout the watershed to use environmentally friendly practices to cut down on pollution. It is marking the event with a special pictorial cancellation that will be available through Dec. 15.

"The Postal Service is proud to become a partner to protect the Chesapeake Bay," said Charles E. Bravo, manager of environmental management policy for the U.S. Postal Service. "Signing on as a partner in the Chesapeake Bay Program reinforces our nationwide commitment to being a good environmental neighbor in each of the 40,000 communities we serve from coast to coast." ...

Pasage group to use information to target restoration projects

Disaster struck the Otsego Lake region after the winter of 1789. Settlers looking for a new life on the New York frontier had poured in faster than they could clear the land.

As a result, they hadn't raised enough crops to get through the winter. By spring, famine was rampant. Hundreds of people didn't have so much as a morsel of bread to eat, and they were reduced to scrounging wild leeks that grew in the countryside.

That, reported Judge William Cooper, a land speculator who had been promoting settlement in the area, "had such an effect upon their breath, that they could be smelled at many paces distance, and when they came together, it was like cattle that had pastured in a garlic field." ...

New map shows sea floor growth

Like a red snake twisting beneath the Atlantic, the midocean ridge produces new sea floor, spreading out gradually deep beneath the water.

This slow process of building the planet's youngest crust is vividly displayed on a new government poster map, using bands of color to illustrate the age of the sea floor.

Everywhere less than 180 million years old, the sea floor is "quite young," geologically speaking, reports Peter W. Sloss of the National Geophysical Data Center in Boulder, Colo., where the map was compiled. ...

BNR treatment exceeds expectations at Blue Plains

With a flick of a switch this fall, the Chesapeake Bay nutrient reduction effort got its single largest boost to date.

In late September, half the flow at the District of Columbia's massive Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Plant - the largest such plant in the watershed - started getting Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR) treatment before being discharged into the Potomac River.

About 160 million gallons of wastewater will receive BNR treatment daily, and the process is expected to reduce nitrogen in the treated wastes by at least 40 percent - from about 14 parts per million to an annual average of 7.5 ppm. ...

Striped bass’ recovery creates a public relations nightmare for management officials

A decade ago, when fishery managers were making hard and unpopular decisions about cutting - even closing - striped bass seasons, they could only dream about what has happened the last few years.

From the brink of collapse, striped bass have had record spawns in the Bay two of the last four years. Coastwide stocks have been officially declared "recovered." But that dream hasn't turned out to be all pleasant.

"You would think it would get easier when you get more fish, right?" asked Bill Goldsborough, a fisheries scientist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. ...

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