The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) has released its 2014 State of the Bay Report. This report, published roughly biennially, measures the health of the Chesapeake Bay by examining 13 indicators in three categories: (1) pollution; (2) habitat; and (3) fisheries. This year’s report found less pollution in the Bay but that improvement was offset by a decline in fisheries. From a January 5 CBF press release:
The 2014 report score is 32, a D+, unchanged from the 2012 score. The report notes improvements in dissolved oxygen, water clarity, oysters, and underwater grasses. Nitrogen, toxics, shad, resource lands, forested buffers, and wetlands were unchanged. Declines were seen in scores for phosphorus, and rockfish, and blue crabs.
This year’s score is still far short of the goal of 70, which would represent a saved Bay. The unspoiled Bay ecosystem described by Captain John Smith in the 1600s, with its extensive forests and wetlands, clear water, abundant fish and oysters, and lush growths of submerged vegetation serves as the benchmark, and would rate a 100 on CBF’s scale.
“We know that budgets are tight in all the major Chesapeake Bay states; however pollution has cost thousands of jobs and continues to put human health at risk,” [CBF President William C.] Baker said. “In addition, our recent economic report found that investing in the Clean Water Blueprint will return significant economic benefits to the region. Once the Blueprint is fully implemented, the economic benefits throughout the region will increase by $22 billion annually.”
Scores between 0 and 40 indicates the Bay is “Dangerously Out of Balance.” Scores between 40 and 50 indicate the Bay is “Improving.” Scores between 50 and 70 indicate the Bay is “Stable” and a score of 70 or above indicate the Bay is “Saved.”
Source: CBF 2014 State of the Bay Report
The press release also lists recommended actions for Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia to meet their Bay pollution reduction goals. Maryland’s recommendations include:
To accelerate pollution reductions, Maryland must set more ambitious goals and increase efforts to plant trees in both agricultural and urban lands. CBF is working to:
- Ensure that Maryland implements measures to reduce phosphorus pollution from agriculture to nearby waterways. Phosphorus pollution is continuing to increase in many of the Eastern Shore’s rivers.
- Change Maryland’s Forest Conservation Act to protect and replace more trees.
- Reduce pollution from urban/suburban runoff by strengthening state permits, maintaining dedicated funding, and enforcing existing laws.
“To date, Maryland has been on track to meet the goals it set,” said CBF Maryland Executive Director Alison Prost. “In order to continue to make progress, Maryland’s newly elected officials will need to stand up for clean water and its citizens must hold them accountable, ensuring we all play by the same rules.”