Published on January 15, 2008
The Chesapeake Bay:How is it Doing?: December 2005 The Chesapeake Bay: How is it Doing? The Chesapeake Bay: How is it Doing? Why Are We Here?: Why Are We Here? The Chesapeake Bay is a beautiful place. By protecting the Bay, we are more likely to preserve our economy and the health of the living things that call the Bay home. Chesapeake Bay Watershed: Chesapeake Bay Watershed Maryland Delaware New York District of Columbia Virginia West Virginia Pennsylvania The Bay is Economically Important: The Bay is Economically Important The Bay is important for many reasons. It helps to support the region's economy as a major source of seafood and a major hub for shipping and commerce. The Bay is Important for Recreation and Tourism: The Bay is Important for Recreation and Tourism It offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities for residents and visitors. The Bay Provides Important Habitat for Wildlife: The Bay Provides Important Habitat for Wildlife It provides a huge natural habitat for wildlife. Where Does the Bay Start?: Where Does the Bay Start? Where does the Bay start? If you are one of the 16 million people who live in the watershed, then the Bay starts in your backyard! Threats to the Bay and Rivers: Threats to the Bay and Rivers NUTRIENTS SEDIMENTS TOXIC CHEMICALS HABITAT LOSS OVERFISHING Nutrients: Nutrients Nitrogen and Phosphorus are the nutrients causing problems in the Bay. What Are the Effects of Excess Nutrients?: What Are the Effects of Excess Nutrients? What are the effects of excess nutrients? Bay grasses die. Bay creatures are affected by low oxygen levels: Bay creatures are affected by low oxygen levels What are the effects of excess nutrients? Low oxygen levels in Bay waters. Sources of Pollutants to the Bay: Sources of Pollutants to the Bay Nonpoint Sources Run-off from farmland Run-off from lawns and paved areas Point Sources Industry Wastewater Treatment Plants Cows in Streams: Cows in Streams Stormwater and groundwater carry nutrients into rivers and the Bay from a variety of nonpoint sources. Wastewater Treatment Plant: Wastewater Treatment Plant Point sources are the second largest contributors of nutrient pollution to the rivers and the Bay. Fossil Fuel Power Plant: Fossil Fuel Power Plant A significant amount of nitrogen pollution is created when we generate electricity and drive cars. Generating electric power by burning fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, releases nitrogen, in the form of nitrogen oxide gas, into the air. Automobile Exhaust: Automobile Exhaust Nitrogen, again in the form of nitrogen oxide gases, comes out of car tail pipes and gets into the air. Septic Systems: Septic Systems Another source of nitrogen is septic systems. Many homes in the watershed use underground septic systems for treatment of wastewater and sewage. The Bay and its rivers are doing betterthan they were when the firstChesapeake Bay Agreement was signed in 1983,but we still have a way to go before we reach our goals for a restored Chesapeake.: The Bay and its rivers are doing better than they were when the first Chesapeake Bay Agreement was signed in 1983, but we still have a way to go before we reach our goals for a restored Chesapeake. Phosphorus Concentrations Declining in Some of theNon-tidal Portions of the Rivers: Phosphorus Concentrations Declining in Some of the Non-tidal Portions of the Rivers 1985 – 2004 Decreasing No significant trend Increasing Monitoring data shows that concentrations of nitrogen flowing into the Bay are decreasing in many of the Bay’s major tributaries. These charts use flow-adjusted data, which are ‘normalized’ to account for seasonal and year-to-year variability in weather patterns. Nitrogen Concentrations Declining in Some of theNon-tidal Portions of the Rivers: Nitrogen Concentrations Declining in Some of the Non-tidal Portions of the Rivers 1985 – 2004 Decreasing No significant trend Increasing Monitoring data shows that concentrations of phosphorus flowing into the Bay are decreasing in many of the Bay’s major tributaries. These charts use flow-adjusted data, which are ‘normalized’ to account for seasonal and year-to-year variability in weather patterns. Sediment Concentrations Declining in Some of theNon-tidal Portions of the Rivers: Sediment Concentrations Declining in Some of the Non-tidal Portions of the Rivers Monitoring data shows that concentrations of sediment flowing into the Bay are decreasing in some of the Bay’s major tributaries. These charts use flow-adjusted data, which are ‘normalized’ to account for seasonal and year-to-year variability in weather patterns. 1980s – 2004 Decreasing No significant trend Increasing Bay Grasses Show Annual Variation: Bay Grasses Show Annual Variation Underwater bay grasses are slowly improving, but further reductions in the pollutants flowing into the Bay are needed to help them flourish. Annual variations in bay grasses show the sensitivity of the Bay ecosystem. Restoration Goal (185,000 acres by 2010) *Note – Hatched area of bar includes estimated additional acreage. No Baywide surveys 1979-83 and 1988 Source: Chesapeake Bay Program. Rockfish Population Stable: Rockfish Population Stable Rockfish have rebounded to levels not seen since the 1950’s, but concerns remain over disease, sufficient sources of food and availability of spawning habitat. Fishing moratoria: MD & DE: 1985-1990 VA: 1989-1990 Baywide Female Spawning Stock Biomass Bald Eagle Populations on the Rebound!: Bald Eagle Populations on the Rebound! Actions to control chemical contaminants have led to improved conditions in the Bay. Bald eagles are no longer endangered due to the ban on the pesticide DDT and subsequent habitat improvements. Bay Waters are Generally Safefor Fishing and Swimming: Bay Waters are Generally Safe for Fishing and Swimming The Chesapeake Bay Program Partnership: The Chesapeake Bay Program Partnership Governor of MD EPA Administrator Governor of VA Governor of PA Executive Council Mayor of DC Chair of Chesapeake Bay Commission Bay Cleanup Has Citizen Involvement: Bay Cleanup Has Citizen Involvement CHESAPEAKE BAY PROGRAM Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee Citizen Advisory Committee representing the interests of: Business, Industry, Environment, Agriculture, Fisheries, Local Governments, Developers, etc. CHESAPEAKE BAY CLEANUP ALLIANCE FOR THE CHESAPEAKE BAY CHESAPEAKE BAY FOUNDATION WATERSHED ORGANIZATIONS LAND TRUSTS CONSERVATION GROUPS Phosphate Detergent Ban: Phosphate Detergent Ban After signing the 1983 Bay Agreement , Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia instituted phosphate detergent bans. In 1987, Chesapeake Bay Program partners committed to achieving a 40 percent reduction in controllable nutrient loads to the Bay by 2000… and in 1992, agreed to stay at or below these nutrient loads once attained. Chesapeake 2000: The New Agreement: Chesapeake 2000: The New Agreement “by 2010, correct the nutrient‑ and sediment‑related problems in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries sufficiently to remove the Bay and the tidal portions of its tributaries from the list of impaired waters under the Clean Water Act”. In June 2000, the Chesapeake Bay Program partners signed a new agreement to guide the restoration and protection of the Bay through the next decade and beyond. In Chesapeake 2000, the partners agreed to: Progress toward Meeting Nutrient and Sediment Goals Limited: Progress toward Meeting Nutrient and Sediment Goals Limited The Chesapeake Bay Program Watershed Model provides program managers with a way to estimate the nutrient and sediment reductions that will likely occur as pollution abatement practices are implemented throughout the watershed. These reduction estimates also provide an indication of the pollutant load that would flow into the Bay in an "average” year. Using the model, managers can project the future response of various management actions put in place today. Based on Bay watershed model simulations, 58% of the phosphorus, 41% of the nitrogen and 54% of the sediment reduction goals have been achieved. Source: CBP Phase 4.3 Watershed Model. Estimates of nutrient and land-based sediment reductions that may occur when the reported management practices and reduction technologies are implemented within watershed portions of NY, PA, MD, DC, DE, WV, VA. The model's nonpoint source load reductions are estimates of what would occur under long-term avergaed rainfall conditions based on the years 1985-1994. The point source load reductions are actual measurements and are influenced by the reporting year’s rainfall. Wastewater Treatment Improvements: 63% of the Point Source Nitrogen Reduction Goal Has Been Achieved Nitrogen loads delivered to the Bay from municipal and industrial wastewater facilities declined 30.4 million lbs/yr 1985 - 2004 as a result of industrial reductions and installment of nutrient reduction technology (NRT) technology. 80% of the Point Source Phosphorus Reduction Goal Has Been Achieved Phosphorus loads delivered to the Bay from municipal and industrial wastewater facilities declined 4.9 million lbs/yr between 1985 and 2004 as a result of improved treatment capability and implementation of phosphate detergent bans (MD: 1985, DC: 1986, VA: 1988, PA: 1990). These reductions occurred in spite of a 20% increase in population 1985-2003. Wastewater Treatment Improvements Best Management Practices: Best Management Practices As partners in the restoration effort, many farmers are using a variety of techniques, called "best management practices", to reduce nutrients and sediment coming from farms into the Bay and its rivers. Farmers Using Nutrient ManagementApply Less Nutrients: Year 2010 Draft Target: 4.5 million acres Farmers Using Nutrient Management Apply Less Nutrients 3.42 million acres of cropland and hayland in the Bay watershed were placed under nutrient management plans between 1985 and 2003. The effectiveness of the plans is based on how aggressively they are implemented. Acres Under Nutrient Management Sediment Control and Stormwater Management: Sediment Control and Stormwater Management The use of sediment control fencing around building and road construction sites has been very successful in reducing nutrient and sediment loads from nonpoint sources. Restoration and Protection of Habitat and Living Resources: Restoration and Protection of Habitat and Living Resources Since 1987, the Bay Program has committed to "provide for the restoration and protection of living resources, their habitats, and ecological relationships". Fish Migration Blockages: Fish Migration Blockages More than 1,000 miles of fish spawning habitat on Chesapeake Bay tributaries are currently blocked by dams, culverts and other obstructions. Migratory and Resident Fish Habitat Expanding: Migratory and Resident Fish Habitat Expanding The removal of dams and the construction of fish passages are reopening native spawning grounds to migratory and resident fish in many parts of the watershed. When combined with stocking efforts, migratory species are beginning to return. The removal of dams and fishway construction from 1988 through 2005 reopened 1,838 miles of historic habitat to migratory and resident fish. Shad Are Starting to Make a Comebackbut Have a Long, Long Way to Go: Shad Are Starting to Make a Comeback but Have a Long, Long Way to Go Stocking efforts, a moratorium, and fish passage development increased the number of shad counted at Conowingo Dam from several hundred per year in the early 1980s to an average of 101,140 per year in 2003-2005. Streamside Forests Sprouting Up: Streamside Forests Sprouting Up Forest buffer restoration is improving local waterways throughout the Bay watershed by preventing pollutants from entering the rivers and improving wildlife habitat. About 60 percent of the riparian area in the watershed is forested. In 1996, the Bay Program partners committed to restore riparian forests on 2,010 miles of stream and shoreline in the watershed by 2010. This goal was met in 2002. Shad Are Starting to Make a Comeback... but have a long, long way to In 2003, the partners committed to conserve and restore forests along at least 70% of all streams and shoreline in the watershed, with a near term goal of at least 10,000 miles by 2010. Riparian Forest Buffer Restoration Current 2010 Goal: 10,000 miles (established 2003) Initial 2010 Goal: 2,010 miles (established 1996) Wetlands Are Being Restored: Wetlands Are Being Restored GOAL: Achieve a net resource gain by restoring 25,000 acres by 2010 in the Wetlands Restoration Program. STATUS: We have achieved 40% of the wetland acreage gain goal through non-regulatory programs. The Chesapeake Bay Program is working to determine if this is indeed a “net gain”. Establishment: Create wetland that did not previously exist. Reestablishment: Restore historic functions to a former wetland. Data Collection In Progress Toxics-Free Bay: Toxics-Free Bay Regions of Concern: Regions of Concern The most severe chemical contamination problems in the Bay are generally limited to those areas located near urban centers close to the Bay: the Baltimore Harbor and the Anacostia and Elizabeth rivers. The Bay Program is directing reduction and prevention actions toward these areas, known as "Regions of Concern". Regions of Concern: Areas with known chemical contaminant-related impacts. Baltimore Harbor Anacostia River Elizabeth River Status of Chemical Contaminant Effectson Living Resources in the Bay’s Tidal Rivers: Status of Chemical Contaminant Effects on Living Resources in the Bay’s Tidal Rivers Chesapeake Bay scientists and managers characterized the status of chemical contaminant effects on living resources in the Bay’s tidal rivers based on all available chemical contaminant data. The result of this characterization, summarized in this map, will be used by Chesapeake Bay Program decision makers to target specific tidal rivers for monitoring and management efforts. Industry Reduces Chemical Releases: Industry Reduces Chemical Releases Bay basin industries have achieved their voluntary goal of reducing releases and transfers of chemical contaminants 65% between 1988 and 2000. Since the year 2000 goal has been achieved, the Chesapeake Bay Program has consulted with industry to set new targets. Year 2000 Measurement of Progress We Still Have More Work to Do: We Still Have More Work to Do Crabs: Crabs The Chesapeake Bay blue crab fisheries are valuable. They provide significant economic benefits for many people in the region. They are also an important part of the region's heritage. Blue Crabs At Risk: Blue Crabs At Risk Mature Female Blue Crabs Average Blue Crab populations have stabilized at below-average levels. Improved water quality and habitat restoration efforts along with proper management of the crab harvest are needed to restore the Bay’s blue crab populations. Oysters at Historic Lows: Oysters at Historic Lows Oyster populations in the Chesapeake are at historic lows due to disease, intense harvest pressure and poor water quality. Oysters and Aquatic Reef Construction: Oysters and Aquatic Reef Construction Bay Program partners are constructing underwater reefs to provide habitat for oysters and the other animals and plants that rely on these reefs for their survival. Forest Acreage Declining: Forest Acreage Declining Forests provide critical habitat and help prevent pollutants and sediment from reaching the Bay and rivers. About 59% of the Bay basin is currently forested. The forest that regrew from the 19th to the mid-20th centuries is steadily declining. Current losses represent permanent conversions. Forest Conservation: Forest Conservation Many efforts to conserve existing forest have involved responsible management and stewardship. Wetlands: Wetlands Wetlands are vital habitats for many plants and animals. Wetlands directly benefit people by improving water quality, reducing flood and storm damages, minimizing erosion and supporting tourism and the hunting and fishing industries. Wetlands Protection: Wetlands Protection Protecting our remaining wetlands is vital to restoring the Bay ecosystem. Patterns of Land Use and Consumption of Natural Resources Threaten Our Progress: Patterns of Land Use and Consumption of Natural Resources Threaten Our Progress Since 1950, the Bay watershed’s population has doubled to about 16 million people. As the population of the watershed grows, so does our footprint on the landscape. In the past decade, population increased by about 8 percent, while the amount of impervious surface increased by 41 percent, representing an area five times the size of the nation’s capital. Managing future growth will be critical to preserving gains made during the first two decades of Bay restoration efforts. Impervious Cover Areas of Highest Development Pressure in the Watershed State and local governmentsplay an important role inland use planning and development in theChesapeake Bay region.: State and local governments play an important role in land use planning and development in the Chesapeake Bay region. Stormwater Runoff: Stormwater Runoff As more and more of the watershed is developed, vegetated lands, such as forests, wetlands and farmland are converted to roads, parking lots, rooftops and other "impervious" surfaces. River Flow into Chesapeake Bay: River Flow into Chesapeake Bay Water Clarity Improvements Needed in Key Habitat Areas: Water Clarity Improvements Needed in Key Habitat Areas Water clarity is critical to the health of underwater grasses that provide important habitat for many Bay animals. Water clarity is a measure of the amount of sunlight that penetrates the Bay’s waters and reaches the surface of underwater Bay grass leaves. The amount needed is determined by the specific underwater grasses which grow in different areas of the Bay. Increases in sediment and nutrient concentrations in the water lead to declines in water clarity. Pfiesteria piscicidais a toxic dinoflagellatethat has been associated with fish lesions and fish killsin the coastal waters from Delaware to North Carolina, including Chesapeake Bay.: Pfiesteria piscicida is a toxic dinoflagellate that has been associated with fish lesions and fish kills in the coastal waters from Delaware to North Carolina, including Chesapeake Bay. Flagellated Form Photo courtesy of the Aquatic Botany Laboratory, North Carolina State University What Can You Doto Help Restore the Bay and its Rivers?: What Can You Do to Help Restore the Bay and its Rivers? Conserve electricity and water and reduce the amount of miles you drive.: Conserve electricity and water and reduce the amount of miles you drive. Use safer, nontoxic alternatives for cleaningand for controlling pests and weeds.: Use safer, nontoxic alternatives for cleaning and for controlling pests and weeds. Properly dispose of household hazardous waste, antifreeze, oil and boat waste.: Properly dispose of household hazardous waste, antifreeze, oil and boat waste. Prevent pollution byreducing, reusing and recycling.: Prevent pollution by reducing, reusing and recycling. Prevent pollution from entering the Bay and rivers by planting trees, especially along streams and shorelines.: Prevent pollution from entering the Bay and rivers by planting trees, especially along streams and shorelines. Plant native vegetationthat requires the use of less(or no) fertilizer, pesticides and water.: Plant native vegetation that requires the use of less (or no) fertilizer, pesticides and water. Limit fertilizer useand apply at appropriate times.: Limit fertilizer use and apply at appropriate times. Have your soil tested and ask for recommendations for the best time and amount of fertilizer to apply for your particular landscaping needs. Never apply more than is needed. Start a compost pile: Start a compost pile If you have room, start a compost pile in your backyard. By using a compost pile instead of a garbage disposal, you will reduce your nutrient inputs to the watershed. Maintain Your Septic System!: Maintain Your Septic System! If you have a septic system, be sure to have it pumped out every three to five years. This will allow your septic tank to operate efficiently. Be a Sediment Buster!: Be a Sediment Buster! Be a "sediment buster"! If you suspect violations of sediment control measures, report the violation. Call your local Planning and Zoning Office. Participate in clean up and restoration activities: Participate in clean up and restoration activities Participate in clean up and restoration activities. Volunteer to Help Plant Beach and Marsh Grasses!: Volunteer to Help Plant Beach and Marsh Grasses! Volunteer to help plant beach and marsh grasses. This will not only help reduce erosion, but also help reduce nutrient and toxic inputs to the watershed. Beach and marsh grasses also provide beneficial habitat for many creatures that live in the watershed. Avoid disturbing shallow water areasand Bay grass beds: Avoid disturbing shallow water areas and Bay grass beds Observe posted speed limits and be responsible for your wake. This will help prevent erosion and habitat destruction. Avoid disturbing shallow water areas and Bay grass beds. Get involved in community groups and watershed organizations to develop and implement watershed management plans and pollution reduction plans.: Get involved in community groups and watershed organizations to develop and implement watershed management plans and pollution reduction plans. Get involved with citizen monitoring efforts that track progress in the Bay cleanup.: Get involved with citizen monitoring efforts that track progress in the Bay cleanup. Former MD state senator Bernie Fowler wades into the Patuxent River every year to test improvements in water clarity. Bernie Fowler's Sneaker Index Chesapeake Bay Needs YOU!: Chesapeake Bay Needs YOU! The Chesapeake Bay needs you!