Bay Journal

January 2006 - Volume 15 - Number 10

Asian, native oysters go head-to-head in Bay

Alien oysters landed on the Bay bottom last fall as part of what scientists say is the most realistic study so far to determine how the native oyster species fares against a potential foreign rival.

The 30-month study, under way in both Virginia and Maryland, will attempt to determine how sterile Asian oysters, Crassostrea ariakensis and sterile native species, C. virginica, endure when placed in real-world growing conditions.

Past aquaculture tests have shown that C. ariakensis, a native of China, grows rapidly when protected in mesh bags and placed on trays that are suspended high in the water. They also resist the diseases that have plagued the native oyster. ...

Wastewater plants have made greatest cuts

Since the mid-1980s, wastewater treatment plants have slashed their nitrogen discharges by 35 percent, and their phosphorus discharges by 54 percent. Measured by percentage, they have made the greatest cuts of any major nutrient source to the Chesapeake.

But they are expected to do almost that much more in the next few years. Under regulations approved by state and federal agencies in 2005, so-called “point sources” (so-called because they discharge at a specific point—the end of a pipe) will have specific limits for nitrogen and phosphorus written into their permits. ...

MD, VA lead Bay states in reducing nitrogen, phosphorus

When it comes to nutrient reductions, Maryland and Virginia reign as the champions among the original Bay Program partners, figures show. Measured in pounds, Maryland has achieved the greatest nitrogen reductions, while Virginia has achieved the greatest phosphorus reductions since the mid-1980s.

Of the original four jurisdictions — Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia —only Maryland is more than halfway toward meeting nutrient reduction goals for both nitrogen and phosphorus. (New York, Delaware and West Virginia did not commit to nutrient reduction efforts until after 2000.) ...

Terms and Trends

The following pages present estimates of the amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus reaching the Bay (also called “loads”) from various sources by major river basin.

To understand these figures, readers need to understand three basic concepts: modeling, nutrient sources and Best Management Practices (BMPs).

The Bay Program’s Watershed Model estimates the amount of nutrients and sediment entering waterways from sources such as different land uses, dischargers and septic systems. Those amounts can be reduced through the implementation of runoff control efforts known as BMPs and by controlling discharges from wastewater treatment plants. ...

Looking for answers?

The main sources of pollution are excess nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) and sediment. Nutrients cause algae blooms which—along with sediment—reduce water clarity. This prevents sunlight from reaching—and therefore kills—underwater plants that provide important food and habitat for crabs, fish and waterfowl.

When the algae die, they sink to the bottom and decompose in a process that removes oxygen from the water, contributing to low-oxygen conditions and “dead zones” with no oxygen at all. ...

Chesapeake Cleanup Update: A Long Way to Go And Not Much Time Left to Get There

This is the third of a series of annual reports that present the most current figures (2004) about the status of nutrient and sediment reduction efforts aimed at meeting the Bay Program’s water quality goals.

Unlike the last two updates, which put more emphasis on explaining the nutrient and sediment reduction goals themselves, this update puts more emphasis on the efforts aimed at achieving the goals.

It provides more information about individual river basins, including the use of more charts to help present a clearer picture of tributary-specific actions. ...

Bay Program revises wetland goals to separate acreage, functional gains

Efforts to increase wetland acreage in the Bay watershed may be accelerated as regional leaders moved to clarify a wetland goal originally set in the Bay Program’s Chesapeake 2000 agreement.

Under the revision, the Bay states agreed to restore or create 15,000 acres of wetlands from 2005 through 2010. In addition, they plan to enhance or rehabilitate 40,000 additional acres of wetlands.

The revisions stem from a yearlong review of progress toward meeting a Chesapeake 2000 agreement goal of achieving a “net resource gain” of 25,000 acres of wetlands by 2010. ...

John Smith will again play role in promoting Chesapeake’s resources

Almost 400 years ago, Capt. John Smith helped to document the bounty of the “faire Bay” that extended north of the Jamestown settlement. Today, leaders from around the region are hoping that rekindled attention to his voyages will help to bolster efforts to return the Bay to some of its past glory.

They are pressing the linkage on several fronts, from drawing attention to the upcoming anniversary of the Virginia colony at Jamestown, to pushing for a water trail that retraces Smith’s explorations, to incorporating lessons from Jamestown and Smith’s voyages in classroom curriculums. ...

Executive Council says Bay cleanup is near breakthrough moment

Mid-November was a tough time for the Bay Program. First, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation scored the estuary’s health as a “D” for the third year in a row. The Bay’s condition, the environmental group said, was actually slightly worse than it was in 2000 when the region agreed to a 10-year cleanup plan.

Days later, the Government Accountability Office reported that the Bay Program’s own assessments of the Bay’s condition were overly rosy. It further said the state-federal cleanup effort lacked a coordinated strategy to achieve its goals. ...

Oh buoy! Network will let visitors follow Smith route, latest Bay conditions

Of all the things that Captain John Smith may have been thinking when he explored the Bay in a cumbersome wooden barge, one thing can be fairly certain.

The 17th century explorer never envisioned a day when someone in a Kevlar kayak would paddle up to an solar-powered buoy (bearing the explorer’s name, no less), tap into a WiFi network linked to distant computers via satellite and download a host of information about where they were, and what the water quality conditions were like.

But that may soon happen. ...

Impervious surfaces driving up levels of salinity in streams

The road salt crunching under car tires this winter will be around a lot longer than drivers might think. Once the snow has gone, the salt will likely appear in nearby streams, and possibly drinking water—a problem made worse by the growing amount of roads and parking lots that have spread throughout vulnerable watersheds.

A team of scientists who conducted a long-term study in Maryland, New York and New Hampshire say that salt from de-icers poses one of the most significant threats to freshwater ecosystems in the northeastern United States. ...

Completion of oyster environmental impact statement delayed

A decision about the possible introduction of a foreign oyster into the Bay has been put off until at least June, the third time the release of a draft Environmental Impact Statement has been delayed.

Maryland, Virginia and federal officials agreed to modify the schedule because there was too little information about the Asian oyster, Crassostrea ariakensis for a decision at this point.

“The magnitude of this project, the volume of research data to be analyzed, and the number of partners involved, dictates that we modify the schedule so that sound science can determine the outcome of this study,” said Ron Franks, secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. ...

Seafood council drops proposal for on-bottom ariakensis experiment

The Virginia Seafood Council has dropped—for now—a proposal to place unconfined nonnative oysters on the bottom of the Piankatank River to test the potential of future commercial-scale deployment.

The industry trade group notified the Virginia Marine Resources Commission that it was withdrawing its request Dec. 14, just days before William Pruitt, who heads the commission, was due to make a decision.

“I was not finding support in the places that I needed support,” said Frances Porter, director for the council. “That’s kind of sad for us, but we will be back in the spring with a revised proposal for an on-bottom introduction.” ...

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