Bay Journal

April 1997 - Volume 7 - Number 2

Bay grasses increased in ‘96 despite adverse conditions

Despite record high river flows that sent huge amounts of sediment and nutrients into the Bay last year, the amount of underwater grasses — considered by many to be the best overall indicator of the Chesapeake’s health — increased.

The expansion came as something of a surprise. Not only did it reverse two straight years of declines, but it did so under conditions generally considered to be bad for the grasses.

Grasses — also known as submerged aquatic vegetation, or SAV — depend on clear water. High flows typically flush in huge amounts of sediment, which cloud the water, and large quantities of nutrients, which spur sun-blocking algae blooms. ...

BNR used to treat 20% of Bay states’ wastewater

About one fifth of all the sewage handled by major wastewater treatment facilities in the Bay states is now being treated with biological nutrient removal — a practice that uses tiny microbes to remove most of the nutrients before the water is released into a river or stream.

Of the more than 2 billion gallons of wastewater handled each day by the watershed’s 273 largest treatment plants, 422 million gallons are treated with BNR technology, according to figures recently compiled by the Bay Program. ...

4 Bay legislators urge appeal to wetland ruling

Four members of Congress from the Bay watershed are calling on the EPA and the Justice Department to battle a district court judge’s ruling that federal agencies had gone beyond Congress’ intent in regulating wetlands.

U.S. District Court Judge Stanley S. Harris, in late January, threw out the “Tulloch rule” which was adopted in 1993 to close what federal regulators had described as a loophole in the law. Before then, dredging and filling required a permit, but certain activities that drained wetlands were not regulated. ...

Complete list of benefits sought by ozone control panel

A 37-state panel exploring potentially sharp reductions in nitrogen oxide emissions to reduce chronic smog problems in parts of the country has begun collecting information about how such actions may produce other benefits, such as reduced pollution to the Chesapeake Bay.

The Ozone Transport Assessment Group, which includes representatives from every state east of the Rocky Mountains, as well as industry and environmental groups, is exploring various strategies to control NOx emissions, which can contribute to ozone pollution problems in cities hundreds of miles downwind. ...

Water managers urged to add their concerns to air rules debate

Working from his office in Cambridge University, Sir Isaac Newton in 1701 put on paper the mathematical equation that explained the law of gravity.

Three hundred years later, people are trying to figure out how to make that law apply to air pollution programs.

While it seems evident that much of the pollution spewed into the air will ultimately find its way back to the ground — and into the water — clean air laws primarily relate to “ambient” air quality, or the amount of pollutants in the air that people actually breathe. ...

VA, PA launch ‘Businesses for the Bay’ program

Both Virginia and Pennsylvania have launched “Businesses for the Bay,” a program that encourages the adoption of voluntary pollution prevention techniques to reduce the amount of toxics and other pollutants released into the Chesapeake watershed.

By the year 2000, we hope to have 75 percent of all businesses in the Bay watershed working to prevent pollution,” said Virginia Gov. George Allen. “Businesses for the Bay will complement — not complicate — current pollution prevention efforts.” ...

Endocrine disrupters wreak havoc on hormones, but how about Bay fish?

A new EPA report has found “compelling evidence” that certain chemicals are affecting the hormonal systems of a variety of fish and animals, resulting in developmental, reproductive and other problems.

At the same time, the report found no clear link between the chemicals, known as “endocrine disrupters,” and impacts on humans, though it called for more research.

Interest has been rising in recent years that a variety of pollutants — including PCBs, DDT-breakdown products, dioxins, herbicides and certain plasticizers — can mimic or block endocrine system processes that help to guide development, growth, reproduction, behavior and other bodily functions. ...

Bay toxics report points to need for more study

The menu for some tiny animals in the Patuxent River may be undergoing dramatic changes. Once, tiny crustaceans known as copepods used to dine on a particular type of algae in the river.

But experiments using giant tanks of water from the river, known as mesocosms, indicate that their favorite algae is being wiped out by relatively low amounts of arsenic in the water.

In its place is a smaller but more arsenic-resistant species.

The problem for the copepods is that they either don’t like — or can’t eat — the new, smaller algae. “Basically, they like their food in particular sizes and shapes,” explained Jim Sanders, a researcher at the Academy of Natural Sciences’ Estuarine Research Center. ...

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