Bay Journal

October 2010 - Volume 20 - Number 7

Aquaculture most likely future for Bay’s oysters

Some of the most valuable farmland in the Chesapeake Bay watershed is buried under 2 feet of water 10 miles north of Virginia's Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.


Here, in Cherrystone Inlet, C. Chadwick Ballard Sr. took several thousand acres of leased Bay bottom and began growing clams. It was 1983, and Ballard's oysters were dying of diseases; the clams were his last hope of saving his company. To run the experiment, Ballard hired Michael Peirson, a North Carolina State University Ph.D. graduate who took the job only because he couldn't find anything else. ...


EPA, USDA announce grants for area conservation projects

The EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced $5.5 million in grants for water restoration projects, efforts to reduce pollution from manure, refining best agriculture management practices and improving nutrient trading plans.

The Shenandoah Resource Conservation and Development Council received $700,000 from the EPA to continue its work reducing nitrogen and phosphorus in farming and food production, while also promoting farmers who protect water quality as well as grow local food. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University also received $700,000 to focus on how to reduce ammonia emissions in poultry houses. ...

Many voluntary farming BMPs in watershed undercounted

Several years ago, Don McNutt was surprised when he learned that the state of Pennsylvania claimed Lancaster County farmers were doing only 4,000 acres of no-till farming in its annual Bay cleanup reports.

In drives along the county's back roads, it seemed clear to McNutt, who heads the Lancaster County Conservation District, that large numbers of farmers had adopted no-till practices and stopped plowing their land before planting—something that reduces erosion and phosphorus runoff. ...

Restore the Bay so we can clean up even more in the tourism industry

If cleaning up our ecosystems for the health of the planet doesn't motivate action, perhaps we should consider this: Investing in our ecosystems is investing in future tourism. Tourism, which brings in millions of dollars to our local economies, relies on a clean environment.

People who come to Maryland and Virginia expect to eat local crabs and local oysters, said Alison Prost, Maryland office attorney with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Fishing guides - including outfitters along Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia rivers - must have healthy fish and clean water to attract business. ...

Study to examine oxygen levels in shallow water

Most attention about oxygen-depleted water in the Chesapeake Bay is focused on the "dead zone" that forms in deep water each year. But most oxygen-related fish kills actually take place in shallow waters, where recent research has shown there are often rapid swings in oxygen levels from day to night.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration gave a team of researchers a five-year grant estimated at nearly $1.6 million to improve predictions of the impact of low-oxygen water on commercially and ecologically important species such as oysters, summer flounder, striped bass and white perch. ...

Group files suit seeking protection for shad, herring

An environmental group has filed suit against state and federal fishery management agencies, saying the agencies turned responsibility for protecting shad and river herring populations into a finger-pointing blame game while the fish stocks declined.

Spawning populations of both species - which once packed the region's rivers each spring - are at, or near, all-time lows along the coast and in the Chesapeake Bay.

The suit, filed by Earthjustice in September against the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and coastal states, contends fishery managers have done little to prevent the fish from being caught as bycatch in other fisheries. ...

York, PA, will turn phosphorus in its wastewater into fertilizer

State, local and environmental leaders in York, PA, in September unveiled a new sewage treatment technology that will not only reduce the amount of phosphorus released but also turn much of its byproducts into environmentally friendly fertilizer.

The company, Ostara Nutrient Recovery technologies Inc., has pioneered a technology to turn the phosphorus removed from treated wastewater into seed-size white pellets, which will become additives in a fertilizer marketed as Crystal Green. The pellets will be mixed with fertilizer products and sold in garden stores, including several in Pennsylvania. ...

Effort to protect clean water in Loudoun, VA, runs into opposition

When the Loudoun Board of Supervisors began talking about better protection for the northern Virginia county's streams and drinking water two years ago, they heard barely a whimper from their constituents. After all, Loudoun is one of the fastest growing counties in the nation, and its residents prize the rural character and booming winery business. And besides, who could be against clean water?

But the county's attempts to put that protection into law via a state statute called the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act have been anything but quiet. Residents have inundated supervisors with complaints that the act, which establishes resource protection areas that restrict building, will drive businesses from the county, send home values plummeting and restrict their freedom to build decks and pools. ...

Secretive black rail is rapidly being squeezed out of existence

Scampering through the Chesapeake marshland is a bird that doesn't want to be found, and may be disappearing: the black rail.

The little rail is the size of a sparrow, with an auburn smudge on the back of its neck and shocking red eyes. It likes to walk, not fly, moving unseen through tunnels in thick mats of grass. It ventures out, if at all, between midnight and dawn.

Sometimes the black rail announces itself with a stammering, high-pitched call. Sometimes it doesn't.

These secretive habits may protect the bird from predators, but they also helped to mask the dramatic decline of what researchers say may be the most endangered bird on the Atlantic Coast. ...

New Blue Plains permit to cut nitrogen discharges 45 percent

A new permit will slash the amount of nitrogen that can be discharged from the watershed's largest wastewater treatment plant by 45 percent, or 3.8 million pounds a year.

The EPA in September issued a five-year permit that would limit the amount of nitrogen that can be discharged from the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Facility to 4.7 million pounds a year, effective in 2015.

The previous permit limited discharges to 8.5 million pounds of nitrogen a year, although the plant typically discharged less than that amount. ...

John Smith trail will encompass landscapes as well as water route

People following in Capt. John Smith's wake should be immersed as much as possible in the landscapes and cultural heritage that the explorer found as he traveled the Chesapeake four centuries ago, a new National Park Service plan recommends.

After a review of management choices for the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, the park service has selected the option that provides the most sweeping vision for the trail's future.

The preferred option not only develops guides and access points to the trail, but would actively work to preserve landscapes "evocative" of Smith's journey and tell the story of the American Indian cultures Smith found during his explorations of the Bay and its tributaries in 1607 and 1608. ...

EPA finds flaws in most states’ plans to clean up waterways

The EPA gave failing grades to most draft Bay cleanup plans submitted by states in September, and threatened to require more costly backup measures unless jurisdictions provide satisfactory rewrites by the end of November.

Two of the Watershed Implementation Plans submitted - those for Maryland and the District of Columbia - had only minor deficiencies, according to the EPA.

But officials said the other five had serous shortcomings. Their problems included a failure to achieve the needed nutrient and sediment reductions, and a failure to demonstrate that state programs would effectively control nutrient pollution. ...

A Bay Journal Film, Nassawango Legacy



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