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This Week in the Watershed

Fox island-portlock
CBF's Fox Island Education Center with underwater grasses visible due to the high level of water clarity. Photo by Bill Portlock/CBF Staff.

One of the more obvious ways to assess the cleanliness of water is the level of water clarity. By this measure, the Chesapeake Bay is doing quite well, as throughout the Bay, water clarity is unusually high. According to Chris Moore, CBF's Virginia Senior Scientist, this is great news for the Bay's health, as, "clearer water allows more sunlight to reach the bottom of shallow areas. That helps restore underwater grasses, which provide food and habitat for crabs, fish, and other creatures."

An obvious question, of course, is why is the water so clear? While there is plenty of speculation, the likely answer resides in the dry weather this past summer and fall. Less rain has meant less runoff from farms and urban and suburban areas, leading to less phosphorus, nitrogen, and sediment in the water. In addition, water clarity levels have been slowly improving throughout the watershed, as revealed in our most recent State of the Bay Report.

What's most encouraging about this water clarity is how quickly the Bay has responded to a reduction in pollution. While saving the Bay won't happen overnight, the possibility of healthy, fishable, and swimmable waters are in reach. The Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is working. It's imperative we finish the job of fully implementing it.

This Week in the Watershed: Clear Water, Environmental Refugees, and Climate Change

  • From brook trout, to blue crabs, to oysters, climate change is impacting critters throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. (Richmond Times Dispatch—VA)
  • In response to the high levels of water clarity in the Chesapeake Bay, this editorial effectively argues for a greater commitment to pollution reduction. (The Virginian-Pilot—VA)
  • Ever hear of the Land and Water Conservation Fund? Though little known, it is the primary funding mechanism for the federal government to buy land for conservation purposes. With its future funding under debate, the fate of critical land holdings throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed is in jeopardy. (Bay Journal)
  • What impact can cattle have on fish? In the brook trout, we see how our raising of cattle can create an environmental refugee. (Daily Progress—VA)
  • Aquaculture is where farming and fishing collide. This dynamic makes aquaculture uniquely suited to the state of Maryland. (Southern Maryland Online—MD)
  • At first glance (or smell!), there might not be many uses for animal manure. A Frederick-based startup has a different approach. (Associated Press)
  • If you haven't seen it yet, the Chesapeake Bay is unusually clear these days. What does this news have to do with the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint? (The Virginian-Pilot—VA)

Lend Your Voice for Clean Water!

What's Happening Around the Watershed?

December 5

  • Richmond, VA: Join us at the Virginia Conversation Network's General Assembly Preview. The event will cover topics like the Virginia Coastal Protection Act and the Clean Water Rule, with Delegate Lopez as the highlighted speaker. Lunch will be provided, but space is limited. Click here to register and learn more!

December 12

  • Virginia Beach, VA: With far more requests for speaker's than we have staff or time, CBF relies on its Speaker's Bureau volunteers to handle a variety of speaking opportunities. Whether you are current on the issues and ready to share our message, or just enjoy public speaking and would like to get trained, we welcome your commitment to this important and high-profile program. Join us to learn the facts and skills to share our mission to Save the Bay with local groups and organizations. Click here to register!

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate


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