The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s (CBF) 2012 State of the Bay Report shows the health of the Bay improved one point over the last report in 2010, and is up four points since 2008, a 10 percent improvement in less than five years. Of the 13 indicators that make up the report, five improved, seven stayed the same, and only one declined.
The State of the Bay Report is a comprehensive measure of the Bay’s health, evaluating the following indicators: oysters, shad, crabs, striped bass (rockfish), underwater grasses, wetlands, forested buffers, resource lands, toxics, water clarity, dissolved oxygen, and phosphorus and nitrogen pollution. CBF scientists compile and examine the best available historical and up-to-date information for each indicator and assign it an index score, between 1-100, and a letter grade. Taken together, these indicators offer an assessment of Bay health.
In 2012, levels of phosphorus pollution improved, as did levels of dissolved oxygen, resource lands, oysters, and crabs. Underwater grasses were the only indicator that declined, a result of higher water temperatures that caused eel grass die offs in the lower Bay and heavy rains that washed sediment and pollution into local waterways.
This year’s score of 32 is still far short of 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.
The Clean Water Blueprint requires all of us, in all the Bay states, to ratchet down pollution to local creeks, rivers, and the Bay. State and local governments will be held responsible for those reductions or potentially lose federal funding and be denied federal permits.
CBF has released a series of priorities for 2013, by state
In Pennsylvania, CBF’s 2013 priorities include:
· Working with state policy makers to secure financial and programmatic support for communities as they plan and implement Blueprint strategies;
· Assisting local governments with technical and stormwater permitting issues to ensure that local governments achieve their clean water goals; and
· Continuing to assist farmers in efforts to reduce agricultural pollution through the implementation of on-farm best management practices.
In Maryland, CBF’s priorities for 2013 include:
· Ensuring that the Bay Trust Fund, which provides money and technical assistance to local jurisdictions is for the first time fully funded;
· Working with local jurisdictions to identify cost-effective strategies to achieve pollution reduction goals; and
· Defending gains made during last year’s legislative session to reduce pollution from stormwater, septic systems, and sprawling development.
In Virginia, CBF’s priorities for 2013 include:
· Ensuring the state legislature approves critical funding for upgrading municipal wastewater treatment plants, controlling stormwater runoff, and assisting farmers with soil and water conservation practices.
· Working with state and local officials to ensure Virginia meets its two-year Bay cleanup benchmarks.
· Ensuring Virginia implements the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s menhaden management plan protecting menhaden, the Bay ecosystem, and fisheries jobs.
The CBF 2012 State of the Bay Report is available at www.cbf.org/2012stateofthebay
source: Chesapeake Bay Foundation