Population densities in coastal shoreline areas across the U.S. (including in the Chesapeake Bay region) are more than four times higher than in inland parts of the country. And this has implications for planning for climate change and sea-level rise, as well as efforts to reduce water pollution from waterfront development.
A new report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) finds that counties next to major bodies of water in the U.S. added an average of 125 people per square mile from 1970 to 2020. By comparison, the average U.S. county added 25 residents per square mile.
A majority of the country’s 313 million residents -- 52 percent of the population, or 164 million Americans -– now live in coastal watershed counties, even though these counties only make up 20 percent of the nation’s land, according to the NOAA report.