From the Ground Up: Celebrating a 20-year Partnership Between CBF's Clagett Farm and the Capital Area Food Bank
Chesapeake Notebook: The Saunders Brothers Orchard and Nursery, Part One

Bad Water at Oyster Harbor, Londontown

 The following appeared on AnnapolisPatch yesterday.

 Beach warning signs

A sign posted by the State Dept. of Health warns people against bathing or wading after high bacteria levels were discovered in the water. One young couple was particularly disappointed after packing for an afternoon of surf fishing. Photo by Andrea Moran/CBF Staff.

Variable thunderstorms, or possibly other reasons, made for pockets of very unhealthy water around the region this week. With the same weather pattern expected to continue today and tomorrow, remember to avoid contact with our local creeks and rivers for 48 hours if a significant storm hits your locale.

Oyster Harbor on the Chesapeake Bay had bacteria readings 13 times what is healthy, according to water monitoring tests on Wednesday by volunteers.

Bacteria levels on the South River in the Londontown area were ten times the healthy limits.

Those readings could have been the result of a heavy down pour in those areas earlier in the week. Rain washes human and animal waste laden with bacteria into area water. Poop from waterfowl also could have spiked bacteria levels.

Here’s the areas that had readings above safe levels. Click here for a Google map of these areas.


Beverly Beach – 141*

Oyster Harbor - 1352


Carrollton Manor/Hillbottom Beach – 146

Olde Severna Park Drainage Ditch – 850


Cape St. Clair/Lake Claire – 329*

Mill Creek – 360

Dividing Creek – 450


Lontontown/Midland – 1008*

Pine Wiff/Almshouse Creek – 174

South River Manor/Broad Creek – 174


High Island – 354

Camp Letts – 124

Holly Hills/Bear Neck Creek – 114


Westelee/South Creek – 118

*Tested by county monitors. All others by volunteers

The acceptable level for swimming and other direct water contact is determined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Maryland Department of the Environment and the Anne Arundel County Department of Health. For bodies of water that the Department samples weekly and biweekly, the acceptable level of enterococci bacteria is 104 or fewer bacteria colonies per 100 milliliters of water. For areas that are sampled monthly, the acceptable level is 158 or fewer colonies per 100 milliliters. See Water Quality Fact Sheet. All the spots on the list above exceed safety levels.

Both the county health department and a network of volunteers test over 100 public beaches and other areas around the county for bacteria. The results from the county tests are put online here, and for the volunteer tests here for Severn and Magothy rivers, here for South River, and here for Rhode/West River.  All the sites listed above were tested by Watershed Stewards.

Bacteria that is ingested can cause an upset stomach. In some cases more harmful bacteria coming into contact with open wounds can cause serious infection.

Remember, water quality can improve or worsen significantly within days of water tests, depending on rain fall. Sites tested on Wednesday can be cleaner if the weather stays dry. Additionally, your local beach may have tested fine on Wednesday but could be unhealthy by the weekend if a thunderstorm moved through late in the week.

Have fun, stay safe.

—Tom Zolper

 Read our Annapolis water quality testing blog series.



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