Fowler grew up on the Patuxent and has often recalled the days when he could clearly see his feet as the water came up to his chin as he caught crabs off Broomes Island. Since the 1960s, with heavier residential development within the Patuxent River Watershed, the water’s quality has significantly declined. The crab population has made a comeback, although not to the levels of 50 years ago.
“I remember the first wade-in back in 1988,” said Dr. Walter Boynton, a University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science professor. “What was wrong with the river was a mystery back then. It’s not a mystery anymore. We’ve overfed this river.”
Boynton identified nitrogen and phosphorus as the two junk foods causing degradation in the Patuxent.
“We need to put this river on a diet,” said Boynton, who encouraged the attendees to use less fertilizer on their lawns, engage neighbors in implementing good ecological practices and openly support elected officials who support environmental initiatives.
Managing the nutrients, said Boynton, “is doable.”
“Time is running out,” Fowler lamented. “We want to get this river cleaned up.”