Study: Bay Pollution Loads On The Decline

As Maryland pursues multiple strategies to limit pollution loads into the Chesapeake Bay, a recent study shows progress.

Bay region map shows trends with nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment - courtesy of Chesapeake Bay Program
Bay region map shows trends with nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment – courtesy of Chesapeake Bay Program
Data from the Chesapeake Bay Program and the U.S. Geological Survey show a decline in Bay pollution loads for the last year measured (2015) — with notable drops in nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment, the three targets of the Bay’s widespread “Total Maximum Daily Load” effort.

Coverage in the Star Democrat notes the importance of the progress:

The pollution reductions are largely credited to dry weather and below-normal river flow, but experts noted local efforts to reduce pollution — like best management practices, lowering vehicle and power plant emissions and reducing runoff from farmland — also play a role.

Excess nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment are recognized at top contributors to the Bay’s poor health.

According to the Chesapeake Bay Program, excess nutrients, like phosphorus and nitrogen, in the Bay’s water can fuel the growth of algae blooms that lead to long-duration, low-oxygen “dead zones” in deep water and short-duration “mortality moments” in shallow water. Sediment can block sunlight from reaching underwater grasses and suffocate shellfish.

Read the full coverage in the Star Democrat, or visit the Chesapeake Bay Program website for more detail.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties
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