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September 2013

Advocates Plan Sept. 17 Rally Against Waterfront Mega-Development

Four seasons map (brighter)Here’s an invitation to everyone who cares about the Chesapeake Bay:  Please help us defeat a massive, ill-conceived waterfront development project on Kent Island that will blacktop farm fields and create more runoff pollution into the Bay.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is urging everyone to turn out at 7 p.m. on Tuesday (September 17) for a meeting of the Queen Anne’s County Commission at Kent Island High School, 671 Romancoke Road in Stevensville, Maryland. 
Bring signs, banners, and voices opposing the proposed Four Seasons project. Why?  Because the development would mean more suburban sprawl and traffic jams on an already crowded and fragile island.  Please email CBF organizer Bess Trout to let her know you can attend.  She’ll be in touch with you with more information. You can also click here to learn more.
Here’s the background:  For more than a decade, New Jersey-based developer Hovnanian Enterprises has been trying to build more than 1,000 houses and condominiums in an environmentally critical waterfront area near the mouth of the Chester River, north of Route 50 in Stevensville.

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Virginia Shouldn’t Give Industries a Pass on Runoff Pollution

IStock_000000891221LargePolluted runoff washing off streets and parking lots when it rains continues to be a serious and growing problem for Virginia’s streams, rivers, and Chesapeake Bay.

The dirty water washes grease, oil, fertilizer, bacteria, dirt, and other harmful pollutants into our waterways, often making them unfit for plants, animals, swimming, and fishing. Typically the sheer volume of water blasting out of culverts and drainage pipes during rain storms destroys natural stream banks and overwhelms the plants and animals living there.

That’s why controlling and reducing runoff pollution is a major focus of Virginia’s Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, the state’s action plan to restore the Bay and its tributary rivers by 2025.

As a part of that plan, Virginia is proposing new runoff requirements for industrial properties. They’re contained in what is called a draft industrial stormwater general permit, a five-year authorization granted by the state to industries for managing runoff pollution.

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Large Bloom of "Red Tide" Stains Southern Bay

Algalbloom1WOLFGANGVOLGELBEINLook at this photo of Virginia’s James River, upstream from where it empties into the Chesapeake Bay.

It looks like a paint factory has exploded, spewing millions of gallons of stain to stripe the river. The location is the Monitor-Merrimack Bridge, where Route 664 crosses the James near Hampton Roads.

But the stain is actually a massive algal bloom, fed by excessive amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. The photo was taken from an airplane on August 30 by Virginia Institute of Marine Science Professor Wolfgang K. Vogelbein. Dr. Vogelbein said in an email that the bloom is likely a potentially harmful species of algae, Cochlodinium polykrikoides. It’s a marine dinoflagellate known to cause fish kills around the world. Sometimes it’s  called “red tide,” although Dr. Vogelbein prefers the term "mahogany tide," because of its darker tint.

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"We Do Not Have the Luxury of Time"

Will Baker at Senate hearingPollution limits for regional states and the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint have infused new life into the Bay cleanup effort, CBF President Will Baker testified during a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing on Tuesday.

“We are seeing accelerated implementation of practices that scientists agree will lead to further improvements in water quality and ultimately a saved Bay,” Baker told U.S. Senator Ben Cardin and Congressman John Sarbanes, both of Maryland, during the hearing, at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center in Grasonville. “Now is not the time to rest. Now is the moment in time which must be seized to accelerate Bay restoration to gain sufficient ground to overcome the continuing crush of population growth.”

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Campaign Targets Dog Waste as Source of Bacterial Pollution

Dog waste photoMDEThe Maryland Department of the Environment has launched a campaign to remind dog owners to “scoop the poop every stinkin’ time.”

It may sound trivial.  But cleaning up pet waste is actually very important to keep bacteria and pollutants out of streams in urban and suburban areas not only in Maryland, but across the region.  

"Dog waste accounts for 24 percent of the bacteria that pollutes our urban and suburban waterways,” MDE Secretary Dr. Robert Summers said on his agency’s website. “MDE is committed to improving water quality and reclaiming the Chesapeake Bay. Dog owners can help us keep our waterways clean and safe for recreation by picking up after their pets 100 percent of the time."

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Scientist Discovers Toxin in Crab Meat from Blue-Green Algae

Blue crab in netChronic blue-green algal blooms in the James River are releasing a toxin that is common not only in the waters of this Chesapeake Bay tributary, but also in the bodies of blue crabs, according to a Virginia Commonwealth University professor.

“In crab muscle tissue in certain times of the year, the toxins build up to levels that the World Health Organization considers unsafe for consumption,” Ecologist Paul Bukaveckas told The Richmond Times Dispatch.

Toxins from blue-green algae (also known as cyanobacteria) was detected in 104 of 105 water samples taken in the fresh water portion of the James River from May to October of 2012, and in 254 of 379 (67 percent) of fish and shellfish examined over the same period of time, according to data from Bukaveckas’ research posted on the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality website.  He also found the toxin this summer, but at levels that were not as high.

"Toxin levels in the water peaked in August at ~0.6 ug/L which is lower than the peaks we observed in 2012 (1.0 ug/L) and 2011 (4.5 ug/L)," Bukaveckas wrote in an email to Bay Daily. "Therefore I am expecting concentrations in crabs and fish to be lower than last year."

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