Report Bad Water Quality

Badwatershotline 1.866.666.9260
Write that number down.

The news this summer has been dismal. Three-hundred-thousand fish dead in Mattox Creek off the Potomac River in July. Twenty thousand in Weems Creek in June. A six-mile-long algal bloom in the Potomac.

We want to know more about what's going on in our rivers and Bay, and we need your help to do it.

If you see or hear about something troubling on the water —like an algal bloom, fish kill, or "crab jubilee"—inform the proper authorities and call CBF'S Bad Water Strike Force Hotline at 1.866.666.9260.

When you call, you'll be asked for some basic information, including:

  • Where and when did the event happen?
  • What did the water look like?
  • Were there dead fish? If so, how many, what kind, big or small?
  • What were the weather conditions?
  • Have you or can you take a picture of the event?
  • Have you contacted the appropriate state agency?

At the end of the summer, CBF will use your data to develop a report on bad water events in the region.  We will share the report with government officials and urge them to support funding for Bay restoration. We'll also share the report with you.

Bay's Health Among the Worst in the Nation

Eutrophicationmontage07312007b_2The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released a new report that shows the Chesapeake Bay has one of the largest dead-zones in the nation, resulting from nutrient pollution throughout the watershed. What separates this report—the National Estuarine Eutrophication Assessment—from others is its national perspective.

The report does point to several case studies showing a cause for optimism that aggressive management can reverse the trend, citing the Tampa Bay estuary, which has improved due to regulations that have significantly reduced nutrient pollution, thereby clearing the water and allowing seagrasses to rebound.

Hopefully, the Senate and President Bush will take this report into account when it's time to pass the Farm Bill.

Death of 5,000 fish in Weems Creek blamed on low oxygen levels

via The Capital

Actually, I'm not sure if the number is 5,000 or 15,000. The paper says 5,000, but the website article says 15,000. According to Robert Ballinger, spokesman for Maryland Dept. of the Environment, oxygen reading in Weems Creek yesterday were 0.54 parts per million. The minimum dissolved oxygen level for perch and rockfish is 5.0 ppm.

Average Stinks, Take Two

2007_forecast_map The Chesapeake Bay Program yesterday released its summer forecast -- " an 'average' summer for Bay health," according to research project leader Dr. William Dennison of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. "Unfortunately, average conditions are far from optimal. The Chesapeake Bay deserves better."

So say we all.

In summary,

1) oxygen levels are expected to be slightly worse than last summer, though ranking near average (there's that word again) when compared to conditions over the past 22 years;

2) no significant changes are expected for Bay grasses in the northern Bay or Tangier Sound, though a slight increase is expected in the Potomac River (it's disappointing no forecast was made for the southern Bay, which has been suffering a critical die-off);

3) harmful algal blooms are predicted to start in early summer, last for one or two months, and extend 10 to 20 miles at their peak.

The full forecast is worth checking out at

Average Stinks

Understanding the science behind the Bay's problems is crucial if we are going to make any inroads. But sometimes, you just need to say it like it is.

On Friday, CBF Senior Naturalist John Page Williams took Annapolis Capital reporter Pamela Wood out on the Severn for a look at the river's oxygen levels. Their monitoring cruise, along with tests from other local rivers, shows oxygen levels that are frustratingly low. And as the summer goes on, Williams expects worse.

"Is it better or worse? I don't give a damn. It's just bad," Williams is quoted saying. "Even if it's average, average stinks."