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May 2013

Public Invited to Discussion of Plight of Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth bass with lesionSport fishermen and women, clean water activists, and everyone who cares about the health and future of the Chesapeake Bay’s largest tributary -– the Susquehanna River -– are invited to a public forum tomorrow evening (May 8) in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to discuss the plight of smallmouth bass. 

The event, hosted  by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore, 1302 N. Third Street in Harrisburg. The forum will feature one of America’s leading research fisheries biologists, Dr. Vicki Blazer of the U.S. Geological Survey.  Dr. Blazer and colleagues discovered the existence of sexual abnormalities (called “intersex”) among smallmouth bass about a decade ago. And since then, she and her fellow scientists have been pioneering further investigations into the interaction of water pollution, parasites, and other factors in the death and disease of smallmouth bass, one of the region’s most  popular sport fish.

A recent Chesapeake Bay Foundation report, Angling for Healthy Rivers, described how a “perfect storm” of pollution, parasites, bacteria, and warming water temperatures are combining to cause fish kills and illnesses in five Chesapeake Bay tributaries, including the Susquehanna, Shenandoah, and South Branch Potomac rivers.

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Study: Restored Oyster Reefs Better at Absorbing Pollution

OysterCHESAPEAKEBAYPROGRAMIt’s a shell of a wastewater treatment system.

As it turns out, oysters remove nitrogen pollution from the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and other bodies of waters at rates that are higher than previously known, according to a new report by researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

Restored oyster reefs in the Bay can absorb up to 10 times more nitrogen –- which feeds algal blooms and low-oxygen “dead zones” –- than areas of the estuary without healthy reefs, providing new evidence that replanting and rebuilding oyster reefs can clean up the nation’s largest estuary, according to the study, “Denitrification and Nutrient Assimilation on a Restored Oyster Reef.”

“Our study showed that a successfully restored oyster reef can remove significant levels of nutrients from the water column,” said Lisa Kellogg, a researcher at William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science. “We found that annual denitrification rates at the restored site were enhanced by an order of magnitude and that rates in August were among the highest ever recorded for an aquatic system.”

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Veto of Bay Cleanup Bill is Overturned by Anne Arundel County Council

Anne Arundel County CouncilAnne Arundel County, Maryland, is moving forward with cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay.

The county council voted 5-2 this afternoon to override last week’s veto by County Executive Laura Neuman of a stormwater pollution control fee. The fee is currently scheduled to start on July 1, and is now set at $85 per year for an average home in the county. (However, a proposed new bill was also introduced today by a majority of council members to phase in the fees, and lower bills for some businesses.)

The money to be raised by the fee will be used to hire contractors and construction workers.  They will build wetlands, stormwater ditches and ponds, and other projects to catch and filter rainwater polluted with fertilizer, oil, antifreeze, and other toxic chemicals running off the land into the Chesapeake Bay.

The Anne Arundel County Council voted 4-3 last month to approve the fee. The investments in clean water are required by a 2012 Maryland law for the state’s 10 largest jurisdictions. The fees will help the counties and Baltimore meet EPA pollution limits for the nation’s largest estuary and follow a cleanup plan called the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.

“Polluted runoff is the Bay’s growing pollution source, threatening not only crabs, fish, and other aquatic life, but also human health," said Alison Prost, Maryland Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

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