A brief graphic from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation that depicts the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program Watershed Model. The columns are separated by pollution source — agriculture, urban runoff, wastewater, septic, and all the above. The rows are separated by state, and then within state by nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution. The large majority of goals have been met by states. By source, wastewater has been regulated the best as it has the highest success rate in terms of meeting its 2017 pollution reduction goal. By pollutant, nitrogen tends to be the most consistently troubling across all the states and sources. West Virginia wins in terms of being on track. Fortunately, the holistic goals of total source pollution reduction are, for the most part, being met.
Current Management Strategies
This interactive map helps to show what policies are being put in place to clean the bay, and where they are being implemented. You can zoom in and click on the little icons to learn more.
Aquaculture of oysters has long been employed to fill the demand for fresh seafood. In the period of American industrialization during the 1950’s commercial harvesting intensified to fill demands from a growing population. Within 20 years Dermo and MSX, diseases that are specific to bivalves, in conjunction with drastic effects of pollution sent oyster populations plummeting. In response to these hard years aquaculture technique were pioneered to farm oysters. Oysters are renowned for their resilience to environmental stress, they can tolerate great variations to temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen for these reasons they are easy to cultivate, you don’t even have to feed them.
Oysters in Chesapeake Bay are one of the region’s most valuable commercial fisheries. The oysters also function as filter-feeders that cleans the water and provides food and shelter to other animals. Resource managers set specific targets for any of these ecosystem services or ecological functions as quantifiable goals for oyster restoration. In order to assess reef structural metrics, researchers utilize acoustic mapping, direct benthic sampling, underwater video, and aerial imagery.
In 2010, President Obama used executive powers to enforce the Clean Water Act within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Under Obama’s approval the EPA created the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blue Print, which established Total Maximum Daily Load or TMDL, limits towards nitrogen, phosphorus and sediments. The EPA set these limits within each of the six states in the watershed; combining water quality monitoring data and scientific knowledge regarding acceptable pollution levels for the Bay’s ecosystem. Chesapeake’s size and denomination as impaired led the EPA to make a timeline allowing the watershed to improve or governmental actions would commence. The threshold wasn’t met and the EPA had to limit nutrient and sediment runoff as the basis of improving water quality and restoring the Bay’s ecosystem.