Bay Journal

July-August 2009 - Volume 19 - Number 5

6 Bay governors unite in drive to put runoff controls in highway bill

Bay region leaders and cleanup activists from around the watershed are hoping that a new federal highway bill can put the brakes on stormwater runoff into the Chesapeake.

Their goal is to require that any new or reconstructed highways using federal money install state-of-the-art stormwater controls to protect local streams and ultimately the Bay.

During the 1990s, the amount of impervious surfaces in the Bay watershed increased 41 percent while the overall population grew by only 8 percent. Much of that increase was driven by road construction. ...

USGS study suggests link between kills, intersex fish

Some of the same pollutants that apparently cause male fish in the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers to exhibit female characteristics may also leave them vulnerable to disease and large-scale fish kills, according to a new study.

The study points to a possible link between the occurrence of intersex fish and fish kills in the rivers in recent years.

In the study by U.S. Geological Survey researcher Laura Robertson, largemouth bass were injected with estrogen. Those fish were then found to produce lower levels of a hormone called hepcidin, which is believed to bolster immune systems.

Paper or plastic? Both will soon cost 5 cents in D.C.

Shoppers using paper or plastic bags to haul home their groceries will face a 5 cent fee in the District of Columbia for each bag they use, as the district joins the small but growing number of U.S. cities targeting disposable bags as a way to reduce trash.

The District of Columbia Council gave unanimous approval June 2 to legislation aimed at reducing pollution in the Anacostia River and its tributaries by charging a nickel for each disposable bag leaving grocery, drug, convenience and liquor stores. Shoppers can avoid the fee by bringing their own bags. ...

Congress told about impact of global warming on Bay, coastal communities

The small Bayside town of North Beach on Maryland's lower Western Shore was founded in 1910 and its economy has been built around the beach for which it is named.

Today, the town's beach-one of the few remaining public beaches along the Chesapeake-is washing away at an accelerating pace, threatening the town's tourist economy.

"The beach created the town," said Mayor Michael Bojokles. "Now, 100 years later, we are on the verge of losing what we have. Tourism dollars are the lifeblood of our local businesses." ...

Bay’s geography means that not every pound of pollution needs a pound of cure

When a pound of nitrogen washes off the streets of Bowie, MD, and into the Patuxent River, almost every ounce will end up in the Chesapeake's tidal waters.

When a pound washes into the Susquehanna River from Binghamton, NY-hundreds of miles upstream from the Bay -only about 60 percent will make it to the estuary.

Yet nutrients from those widely separated areas have strikingly different impacts on the Chesapeake's oxygen-starved "dead zone."

Every ounce of nitrogen that makes it out of the Susquehanna has three times the impact of deep water oxygen concentrations in the Middle Bay as the same amount originating above the Patuxent fall line. ...

Review of past oyster research reveals lack of coordination

A group of scientists recently reviewed the results from hundreds of oyster restoration projects that took place over the last 18 years. They found a lot less than they expected.

Instead of being able to draw conclusions about the lessons learned after examining records from more than 1,000 projects that took place between 1990 and 2007, they found a mishmash of information.

Many projects received little monitoring, and many sites that were monitored collected information that often wasn't useful. ...

Spring shad numbers up in Susquehanna, down in Potomac

This spring's shad runs brought remarkably mixed results-and some new concerns-in the Bay's tributaries, with some showing increases in migrating shad, while others stayed the same or declined.

Returning American shad reversed a long-running decline on the Susquehanna River. But that good news was partially offset by worries on the Potomac, which in recent years has had the strongest shad spawning run of any river around the Bay, or the East Coast.

An annual Potomac River survey caught 11.3 adult fish per net this spring-the third worst in the survey's 15-year history and the second straight year of declines on the river. Last year's index was 23.6. The 15-year average is 22.3. ...

Trumpeter swans may again grace Bay’s waters

If there is a creature whose sheer presence suggests that humans are ungraceful, needlessly hurried-and perhaps even less evolved-it would be the swan.

In the Chesapeake Bay region, the swan is often a reminder of human actions gone awry.

The native trumpeter swan was hunted for its feathers, meat and skin, until it completely vanished from the Chesapeake and became an endangered species. The population of the native tundra swans suffered, too.

The mute swan, on the other hand, was imported to the Bay region from Europe. It escaped to the wild and bred so successfully that it now poses management problems throughout the region. ...

A Bay Journal Film, Nassawango Legacy


  • Swans! | Bay Buddies 07/01/09


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