New Report: More than 15 Million Jobs Could Be Created Worldwide by Pollution Cleanup
66 Percent of Bay Failed to Meet Water Quality Standards for Oxygen Last Summer

6,800 Volunteers Making a Difference

CTBD lightbulb
Another Clean the Bay Day has come and gone, and with it over 150,000 pounds of litter and debris have come and gone from the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

That’s good for the Bay, good for Bay critters, and good for everyone who loves or depends upon the Bay for a livelihood.

Last Saturday, some 6,800 volunteers came out for Clean the Bay Day, a massive shoreline cleanup sponsored annually by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) in cooperation with participating local governments and citizen volunteers. The volunteers included individuals, families, schools, clubs, Scouts, businesses, military service members, and politicians. They fanned out along nearly 500 miles of shoreline and streams in Hampton Roads and across Virginia, some on foot and some in canoes, kayaks, and skiffs.

CTBDScoutsIn just three hours, they hauled out an estimated 150,000 pounds of debris. Over the past 24 years, Clean the Bay Day volunteers have removed some 5.8 million pounds of trash from the Bay.

The most common items found last week: plastic bottles, plastic bags, and cigarette butts. That’s fairly typical, but Clean the Bay Day workers also hauled away household appliances, car parts, tires, “ghost” (abandoned) crab pots, and hundreds of pounds of rogue fishing line. Volunteers were also surprised by many strange finds this year: a soccer goal, an old army stretcher, a beanbag chair, a $50 bill, a collection of dream catchers, and an intact light bulb covered with oysters (top photo). 

Where does it all come from? Look in the mirror. Trash and debris carelessly (deliberately?) tossed into streets, parking lots, curbs, and gutters are washed down storm drains with rainwater and carried Cleanup Team from Sponsor CSX directly to nearby streams and creeks. In this part of the world, it all generally winds up in the Chesapeake Bay, creating messy eyesores for people, life-threatening hazards for wildlife, and water pollution for the Bay.

The thousands of pounds of debris pulled out by volunteers every year is just the visible part of Bay pollution. Largely out of sight are the millions of pounds of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment (dirt) that annually wash off the land into the Bay. It’s no wonder that reducing stormwater runoff pollution is now a major focus of the federal-state-local Bay cleanup effort.

The hope is that Clean the Bay Day sensitizes citizens not only to trash and litter washing into our waterways but to the unseen Bay threats that in many ways are more serious. And just as the cheapest, most practical fix for litter is not to discard it in the first place, so too the solution for nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment runoff is to prevent it from washing off the land at its source.

Area residents don’t need Clean the Bay Day to help with that. There are lots of easy, practical things all of us can do every day to reduce pollution from our homes, yards, schools, and businesses. Click here to learn more. And everyone can support local, state, and federal programs to restore streams, rivers, and the Bay.

ABJ with Domenech and RigellBut for now, mark your calendar for the 25th Anniversary of Clean the Bay Day on Saturday, June 1, 2013, and make plans to help spruce up a creek or river in your community. This year, 20 cities and counties across Virginia participated with local cleanup sites.

“The Bay and its waterways work for us 24/7, 365 days a year, boosting our economy and quality of life,” says Tanner Council, CBF Clean the Bay Day coordinator. “Clean the Bay Day is a great, practical way for individuals to give a few hours back and make a big difference. We’d like to encourage people to get involved after Clean the Bay Day, too – by helping in other ways to Save the Bay.

“If we don’t continue to make progress reducing pollution, we will continue to have polluted waters, human health hazards, and an economy that cannot reap the full rewards of a healthy Bay.”

Chuck Epes
Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Photos: Top to bottom: Oyster lightbulb, Tatum Ford/CBF; Scouts working hard, Andrea Moran/CBF; Team CSX, Kate Wilson/CBF; Dignitaries at First Landing State Park (left to right, Staci Martin, Va. Department of Conservation and Recreation; Jeanne Domenech; Doug Domenech, Va. Secretary of Natural Resources; Ann Jennings, CBF Virginia Executive Director; Jennifer Huggins, Va. State Parks; Congressman Scott Rigell; Teri Rigell), Kate Wilson/CBF. 

CTBD 2012 artwork-FINAL


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I commend the participants of the Clean the Bay Day; they unselfishly devoted their time and resources in order to save Mother Nature. I hope more citizens will show their concern to the community by actively participating in activities like this. It is alarming that the piles of garbage that were collected were composed of plastic bottles, plastic bags and cigarette butts. Thus, it is an indication that the root cause of these problems stem from the people’s lack of discipline in disposing their trash. I hope people will become sensitive enough with the results of this activity.

Monica Barnes

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