Bay Journal

May 2009 - Volume 19 - Number 3

Region’s growth problem only getting larger

In the early days of the Bay cleanup efforts, public presentations about the Chesapeake often included an illustration from the comic strip "Pogo," with the character's famous saying, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."


If so, the Bay has more enemies than ever. In the years since those outreach efforts took place in the mid-1980s, nearly 3 million more people have arrived in Bay's watershed. They consume forests and farmland, and generate pollution.


Now, as the human population of the Bay watershed cruises toward 17 million, author and conservationist Tom Horton is asking hard questions about the Bay's biggest long-term problem: growth. ...


Executive Council to meet May 12 at Mount Vernon

The Chesapeake Executive Council, the top policy-making body for Bay restoration, is scheduled to meet at Mount Vernon on May 12, with the public portion of the meeting running from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Details of the meeting are still being determined, but council members, who have acknowledged that the 2010 goal to restore Chesapeake Bay water quality will not be met, will discuss setting a new cleanup timetable.

The council is also expected to set the first in a series of two-year goals that would outline what each jurisdiction expects to accomplish through the end of 2011. The goals are also expected to contain some type of "contingency" that will kick in to improve performance if a state does not meet its goals. ...

CBF wants to link development to pollution offsets

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is asking the EPA to clamp down on pollution from new development in the watershed to reduce nutrient pollution to the Bay.

Specifically, it asked the EPA to issue no permits for developments, wastewater treatment plants or industries that would increase pollution to local waterways unless that pollution is offset by a two-to-one ratio.

The organization also wants stronger action to control stormwater runoff from urban and suburban lands, and to deny air pollution permits for all new coal-fired power plants whose emissions end up in waterways. ...

RainScaping effort aims to take Anne Arundel by storm

Slow it down. Spread it out. Soak it in.

The chant is rising from Anne Arundel County, MD, this spring as the Chesapeake Ecology Center spearheads a countywide campaign to combat polluted stormwater runoff with Bay-friendly landscaping.

Thirty-four campaign partners are hammering the message home with print and television advertisements, news articles and a RainScaping website that was launched on April 22.

RainScaping includes a suite of landscaping options that collect and absorb stormwater before it can wash pollution into waterways and hasten erosion. ...

Court rules against permit for reservoir

A federal district court judge has invalidated the Army Corps of Engineers permit for a controversial 1,500-acre reservoir in Virginia's King William County that environmental groups and the Mattaponi Indians have been fighting for years.

It's the third time the project has been killed; the two previous times, the project was successfully revived by supporters.

In a March 31 ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Henry Kennedy Jr., agreed with environmental groups who charged that the Corps' acted inappropriately when it determined the project, which would drown more than 400 acres of wetlands, was the "least damaging practical alternative" to meeting future water needs of Newport News and surrounding municipalities. ...

Report card gives Bay health a C- despite slight improvement

The Chesapeake Bay scored a C- in the latest report card assembled by a team of Bay scientists. That's the same grade as last year, although the total score edged up a bit from last year's 39 to 43, on a 100-point scale.

It's the third report in the space of two months to give the Chesapeake a dismal grade, with the state-federal Bay Program giving it a 38 on a 100-point scale in March, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation ranking it at 28 on a 70-point scale in April.

But the third annual Bay Health Report Card is unique by taking a closer look at 15 regions around the Bay, where it found a more divergent story. ...

In rite of spring, volunteers clean up tons of garbage

In 1896, Congress took action to clean up its local rivers. It approved legislation making it illegal to throw "dead fish...dead animals of any kind, condemned oysters in the shell, watermelons, cantaloupes, vegetables, fruits, shavings, hay, straw, ice snow, filth, or trash of any kind whatsoever" into the Potomac and its tributaries within the District of Columbia.

Today, the type of trash has changed, but the problem remains. Instead of watermelons and cantaloupes, volunteers who turned out April 18 to clean the Anacostia River in and around the District found car doors, orange highway barrels, shopping carts, bottles and cans-and plastic bags by the thousands. ...

Plan to cut Bay monitoring programs raises concerns

The Chesapeake Bay management and scientific communities are struggling over a fundamental question: Is it more important to know more about the effects of management actions to control pollution in the watershed, or the effects of that pollution once it reaches the Bay?

The Bay Program is considering a transfer of $1 million from monitoring programs in the Chesapeake and its tidal tributaries to monitoring efforts targeting rivers and streams in the watershed.

Overall, the EPA and the states spend about $4.3 million annually on Bay-related monitoring, of which $900,000 is spent in the watershed. ...

Winter blue crab survey shows dramatic population increase

The number of blue crabs in the Bay, especially adult females, increased dramatically last year, which officials say is an early indication that strict new catch limits are showing results.

Figures from the annual winter dredge survey show that the total number of crabs in the Bay increased by nearly 50 percent, from about 280 million last year to 418 million in this winter's survey.

Almost all of the increase was among adult crabs, where the number of males increased by about 50 percent, while the population of adult females nearly doubled, according to figures from the annual survey conducted by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. ...

Introduction of Asian oyster too risky for Bay

Regional leaders say they won't roll out the welcome mat for an Asian oyster that had generated excitement among some seafood growers, saying it poses "unacceptable ecological risks" to the Chesapeake.

After nearly five years of studying the risks and benefits of using the fast-growing Crassostrea ariakensis, state and federal officials say they will instead pursue an "all native" strategy to restore the commercial and ecological value of oysters in the Bay.

As a result, after nearly 8 years of aquaculture studies, the last sterile nonnative oysters will be pulled from the Bay by the end of May. No further research with C. ariakensis oysters-in the wild or in the lab-is planned. And, the idea of repopulating the Bay with a breeding population of the foreign species is off the table. ...

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