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

Getting "Run Off" the Beach Because of Runoff

The following first appeared as a Letter to the Editor in the Daily Press earlier this week.

Beachsign, blog1
Beach goers in Virginia Beach "run off" the beach from dirty water. Photo by Andrea Moran/CBF Staff

The lower Chesapeake Bay has indeed been fortunate in dodging oxygen-starved dead zones this summer. However, Hampton Roads has seen its share of dirty, unsafe water in recent months.

Just last week, the Virginia Department of Health condemned oyster beds in parts of the James River off Newport News, banning all shellfish harvests there for the rest of September because the water "has been subjected to sewage spills likely containing pathogenic bacteria and viruses, and because the area is not a safe area from which to take shellfish for direct marketing."

Earlier this summer, health officials closed beaches along Ocean View in Norfolk, James River beaches in Newport News, Yorktown Beach, Gloucester Point Beach and the Virginia Beach oceanfront because of high bacteria levels in the water. As of last month, authorities had issued 31 swimming advisories for 16 different beaches, nearly all of them in Hampton Roads, spanning 74 days.

While unsafe beaches can be caused by natural factors such as bird droppings, more often it is the result of pollution running off streets, parking lots and lawns. Even a gentle rain washes pet waste, sewage, litter, grease, oil, fertilizer and other toxic substances off the land and into storm drains leading to nearby waterways. This pollution not only threatens public health, it hurts our local water-based businesses and industries.

Most importantly, runoff pollution is preventable. All of us can do our part to reduce runoff from our homes, yards, schools, businesses, and neighborhoods.

To learn more, go to Safe beaches are ours for the choosing. Choose clean water.

—Christy Everett, CBF Hampton Roads Director

Local Governments Set Pollution-Busting Examples

The following originally appeared in Bay Journal News Service yesterday.

Riparian Park plantingA community riparian park planting. Photo by CBF Staff. 

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation's 2012 State of the Bay Report tells us the health of the Chesapeake Bay has improved 14 percent since 2008. But that doesn't tell the whole story.

Throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, we hear about local governments, businesses, and citizens rolling up their sleeves to reduce pollution from all sectors--agriculture, sewage treatment plants, and urban and suburban runoff. They are working to restore local rivers and streams. That is the goal of the federal/state Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint (formally known as the TMDL and State Watershed Implementation Plans). The Blueprint, if fully implemented with programs in place by 2025, will restore clean water throughout the Chesapeake's 64,000 square mile watershed.

Examples abound.

In south-central Pennsylvania, Warwick Township's citizens—farmers,  school children, businessmen, civic groups, and the township board of supervisors—pitched in to implement a comprehensive watershed management plan for Lititz Run.

Building on stream restoration efforts started in the early 1990s, Girl Scouts turned old barrels into rain barrels, and in turn homeowners used the devices to reduce stormwater flow. Every industrial park in the township modified its stormwater system to reduce runoff. The township preserved 20 farms and 1,318 farm acres from future development using "Transferable Development Rights." Eagle Scouts placed "No Dumping, Drains to the Stream" signs on all the storm drains in the township.

The Result: Lititz Run has been re-designated by the State as a cold-water fishery and now supports a healthy brook trout population.

Just a little south of Lititz, the Lancaster City government is making significant investments in green infrastructure. The green roofs, porous pavers in alleyways, rain barrels, and other innovative technologies put in place there will absorb rainwater instead of allowing it to run off carrying pollution to the Conestoga River. Not only will water quality be improved, but these actions will improve the quality of life for all residents.

In Maryland, Harford, Somerset, and Wicomico counties decided to better manage sprawl to reduce associated water and air pollution and preserve their rural character.

In the small town of Forest Heights, Md., Mayor Jacqueline E. Goodall wants local government to lead by example. Town stormwater drains into Oxon Run, which in turn flows to the polluted Potomac River. So the town recently installed new bio-retention ponds, a cistern, and three 250-gallon rain barrels at the town administration building. Previously, the town had installed a vegetated green roof on the building, as well as solar panels, and energy-efficient interior features. Forest Heights actively sought grants for the latest project, reducing the overall cost 90 percent. Now, the town is encouraging its 2,400 residents to do their part: limit car washing and pesticide spraying, install rain barrels, and take other measures.

And Talbot County, Md., has undertaken an innovative pilot program to use existing farm and street ditches to purify runoff. County-wide, this strategy could save tens of millions of dollars.

In Virginia this year, the Governor and legislature allocated $216 million in new funds for local water improvement efforts, the largest investment in clean water in years. This investment will pay for upgrading wastewater treatment plants, improving stormwater runoff controls, and reducing combined sewer overflows. These actions will help produce healthier streams and rivers across the Commonwealth, stimulate local economies, and help Virginia meet its 2017 Chesapeake Bay cleanup goals.

Falls Church, Va., officials reduced the initial cost estimates for improving stormwater management by 60 percent through the use of "green infrastructure." And in Charlottesville, Va., city officials recognized the damage done by stormwater to the Rivanna River and passed a stormwater fee to aid in restoration.

We hope these actions and the many others like them inspire other local governments, businesses, and individuals to implement the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. It is the right thing to do, and it is the legacy we want to leave for our children and grandchildren.

We're more than halfway to our goal of reducing water pollution. Much work remains, but momentum is building. And each person, business, and locality that takes action increases our ability to finish the job in our lifetime.

—Kim Coble
Vice President, Environmental Protection and Restoration, Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Bay's Health Showing Real Progress

The following op-ed appeared in Maryland Community News Online late last week.

SOTB_2012CoverThis is a historic moment in time for the Chesapeake Bay and all the rivers and streams throughout its entire six-state, 64,000-square-mile watershed. In fact, this is the moment in time for the Chesapeake. Never before have the stars aligned so well for the Bay's future. While there has been some squabbling, and even lawsuits, by extremists on both sides, cooperation between individuals, businesses and government has led to real progress. The state of the Bay is improving.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation's State of the Bay health index, the first such Bay report card and the longest running, shows a 14 percent improvement since 2008. Cooperation and sound science have overcome the narrow interests of opposition. We can clearly see a saved Bay in our generation.

But make no mistake, the Bay is not yet saved. A D+ is not a grade my parents, at least, would ever accept ("Report: Slight uptick in Bay’s health," Jan. 4). The Bay is still dangerously out of balance.

Overall, our State of the Bay Report shows that five of the 13 indicators are up, seven are unchanged, and only Bay grasses are down. In the last two-year reporting period, the levels of phosphorous pollution have declined, the amount of land permanently protected in conservation has increased, blue crabs have increased, and dissolved oxygen levels have increased. All of this shows a Bay fighting for survival, and the fact that the dissolved oxygen levels have actually improved during a period of high storm events may be a strong indication that the Bay's legendary resilience is returning.

Ironically, we worry that the good news, albeit modest, may breed a certain level of complacency among the public and even our elected officials. This would be a huge mistake, as the gains have been modest, incremental, and the system is still fragile. If we have learned anything over the years at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, it is the fact that the Bay is a study in contrasts, even contradictions.

Consider the one down indicator of the 13 in our report card—underwater grasses. Upper Bay grasses on the Susquehanna Flats tripled over the past 20 years, but declined in the last two-year reporting period. Grass beds in the Severn River are abundant, but in much of Virginia, grasses decreased, a victim of high water temperatures.

Going forward, here is what we all want for the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers: clean and safe water, abundant seafood and healthy habitat. Over the centuries, all three have been thrown out of balance. Now, thanks to good science informing good policy, supported and implemented by a broad base of cooperation, each is starting to show signs of improvement.

That some are lobbying Congress and suing in federal court to stop the progress is not only tragic, it is mind-boggling. All of us who value the Chesapeake and are determined to see a better future for our children and grandchildren must let our voices be heard. It is time to finish the job.

—William C. Baker
President of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Learn more about our Save the Bay efforts through the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.

Few Budget Choices Are as Critical as Clean Water

The following op-ed appeared in The Richmond-Times Dispatch yesterday.

IMG_9388It is hard to overstate the importance of wastewater treatment plants in protecting the environment and public health. These clean-water factories take raw sewage and clean it up to meet state and federal water quality standards before discharging it back into our streams and rivers.

Because of wastewater treatment's critical importance to all of us, a coalition of public and private stakeholders have worked together to advocate for government funding for mandated upgrades and improvements. In Virginia, those stakeholders include the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Virginia Manufacturers Association, as well as other conservation, local government, industry and public utility groups.

In recent years, wastewater treatment plants have played a key role in helping restore the Chesapeake Bay. Plants all across the bay watershed have made it a top priority to modernize and install nutrient reduction technology that cuts the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus in wastewater to just a few parts per million. That's important because nitrogen and phosphorus are among the most serious pollutants affecting the bay's health.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there are 483 significant (large or critically located) wastewater treatment plants in the Chesapeake Bay region. Most are publicly owned and operated; 81 belong to private industry. Together, they discharge more than 3 billion gallons of treated wastewater a day into the bay watershed.

EPA calculates that between 1985 and 2009, ongoing upgrades at wastewater plants reduced nitrogen and phosphorus pollution going to the bay by 44 percent and 67 percent, respectively—this despite an additional 3.5 million people moving into the watershed during the same period.

But the upgrades are expensive. From 2007 to 2010, nearly $2 billion in taxes was invested in upgrading wastewater treatment facilities in the Chesapeake Bay watershed; more than a half-billion dollars was appropriated by the Virginia legislature alone. Millions more in upstream technology investments have been made by private industry to reduce its impact on these facilities as well.

But the job is far from finished. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality lists 32 wastewater treatment plants, including four in the Richmond area and one in Hopewell, that are now upgrading so that Virginia can achieve its 2017 bay cleanup benchmarks. Many more plants will be added to the list as the state and region fully implement the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint by 2025.

General Assembly funding of the state's share of these upgrade costs not only will ameliorate local rate increases to citizens; it also will benefit all Virginians by helping restore the bay, a national treasure, recreation and tourism magnet, and a job-creating economic engine.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Virginia Manufacturers Association call upon the 2013 General Assembly to continue state funding for these critical wastewater plant upgrades. We applaud Gov. Bob McDonnell's proposal to invest an additional $106 million in state bonds over the next three years for this purpose and urge the legislature to approve them.

Our state legislators have many difficult funding choices to make. But few are more important than clean water—for neighborhood creeks, the bay, public health, recreation and our economy. Please encourage your legislator to help keep sewer rates affordable, invest in clean water and support the governor’s budget.

—Ann Jennings and Brett Vassey

Ann Jennings is Virginia executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. She can be reached at

Brett Vassey is president and chief executive officer of the Virginia Manufacturers Association. He can be contacted at

Photo by Emmy Nicklin/CBF Staff.

Wanted: Funding for Clean Water

The following op-ed appeared on The Virginian-Pilot yesterday.

Bill Portlock, VA Sewage Treatment PLantsHampton Roads residents expect that when they flush their toilets or drain their bathtubs, the wastewater goes to a sewage treatment plant to be treated and cleaned before it is discharged to our waterways.

As the operator of local treatment plants, the Hampton Roads Sanitation District takes pride in ensuring that the complex network of pipes, plants and related systems works safely, effectively and efficiently. The district is proud to operate some of the most modern wastewater treatment systems available.

That's important from a public health standpoint, but it's also critical to anyone who loves a creek, a river, the Chesapeake Bay and the beauty and economic bounty that our waterways provide.

Many people know that farm animal manure is rich in nitrogen and phosphorus. That's why it makes good fertilizer when applied appropriately.

Human waste also contains nitrogen and phosphorus. In such massive quantitiessome 1.7 million people flush toilets every day in Hampton Roads alonethis human-generated nutrient pollution has contributed to the familiar problems plaguing the bay and its rivers: cloudy water, algal blooms, oxygen-starved dead zones, and fish kills.

When HRSD treatment plants were built, nitrogen and phosphorus were not a focus of wastewater treatment, and removal of these nutrients was not required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or by Virginia. Only in more recent years has removal of nitrogen and phosphorus become a focus of wastewater treatment.

HRSD and other wastewater treatment authorities across the Bay region have made it a priority to upgrade and install modern nutrient-removal technology. The technology allows wastewater nitrogen and phosphorus to be reduced to just minute parts per million.

The EPA estimates that treatment plant upgrades kept a whopping 39 million pounds of nitrogen pollution and 6 million pounds of phosphorus pollution from getting into the bay between 1985 and 2009, a reduction of 44 percent and 67 percent respectively. These reductions are producing dramatic and positive results in the health of local streams, rivers, and the bay. While very effective, these upgrades are also expensive.

Recognizing the effectiveness of nutrient-removal technology in restoring the bay, the Virginia General Assembly has generously provided more than a half-billion dollars in grants to local sewage authorities across the state since 2005.

HRSD has been a benefactor of these funds, receiving over $100 million in grant funding toward nutrient removal upgrades at five plants. These grants have eased utility rate increases for citizens and businesses of Hampton Roads while helping provide cleaner water to local streams and rivers. They also have provided needed local jobs.

But there is still a long way to go. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality lists 32 wastewater treatment plants, including two HRSD plants, that are now upgrading in order for Virginia to achieve its 2017 bay cleanup benchmarks.

Fully funding the state's share of the cost will limit rate increases necessary to support these projects and benefit all Virginians by implementing the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint and restoring the bay, a national treasure.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and HRSD join with other conservation, local government, industry, and public utility groupsand, we hope, the region's residentsin calling upon the General Assembly to continue state funding for wastewater plant upgrades.

We applaud Gov. Bob McDonnell's proposal to invest an additional $101 million in state bonds over the next three years for this purpose.

Virginia has many important and competing fiscal needs. Few are more critical, however, than clean water for the bay, public health, recreation, our economy and children's future. We hope the region's residents agree and will encourage their state representatives to fund this important clean water need.

—Christy Everett and Ted Henifin

Christy Everett is Hampton Roads director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Ted Henifin is general manager of the Hampton Roads Sanitation District.

  Photo: A Virginia sewage treatment plant. Photo by Bill Portlock/CBF Staff.

Time to Press Forward, Not Back Down

DamnThe below article originally appeared in the Bay Journal News Service earlier this week.

The Susquehanna River and its big dams have been in the news lately. A handful of Maryland county officials would like you to believe the dams are the primary ill of the Chesapeake Bay.

They claim that because sediment reservoirs behind the Conowingo Dam are at capacity, instead of trapping pollutants during storms, the dam now allows two pollutants—phosphorus and sediment—to flow downstream at alarming rates. They argue that years of restoration progress have been erased and that current bay restoration efforts do not address these issues. And finally, these local leaders contend that Maryland's investments in restoring the bay would be "futile" and all of the efforts to help our local waters should now come to a standstill.

Well, as chair of the Local Government Advisory Committee (LGAC) for the Chesapeake Executive Council, which includes the state governors, Environmental Protection Administration administrator and other senior officials who guide the cleanup effort, I write today with good news—every bit of scientific information available says they are wrong on all counts.

First, they claim 80 percent of the pollution to the bay comes from the Susquehanna River. This figure is not in any of the scientific information I've seen and no expert I've contacted knows where the number comes from.

Second, the nutrients and sediment passing through the Susquehanna's dams, under all conditions, are indeed accounted for in the state-of-the art tools the bay restoration scientists use.

Third, while storms do increase the freshwater and pollutants flowing through the dam, they by no means erase the progress we have made. For example, the large grass bed on the Susquehanna Flats, located right where that river meets the bay, withstood the flow of fresh water and sediment downstream during last fall's storms precisely because we put time and effort into restoring it to health.

And finally, whatever pollutants get past the dam primarily affect the northernmost tidal waters of the bay and its rivers.

So let's talk about things that are true.

The recent introduction of pollution limits in the effort to clean up Chesapeake Bay recognized that we could no longer point our fingers at someone else. We all have to do more to protect our local streams and by doing so, help the Chesapeake Bay. Many Pennsylvania and Maryland localities are already investing wisely in projects to restore their own local waters and send cleaner water downstream.

In Lancaster, Pa., even before the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint was established, we changed our thinking and began to put projects in place to stop polluted runoff before it reaches local waters. We are continuing to invest our money in sewage treatment and stormwater infrastructure, using green technologies and following our comprehensive green infrastructure plan.

Meeting our local goals will be costly in the short term, but recent studies done in and on our city actually show a cost savings in the long run. In other words, if we postpone what has to be done, future generations will bear an even greater financial burden. So we are building Lancaster into a more appealing, livable community right now, with more trees, gardens and healthier waters, all of which give us a better chance of attracting new residents and economic growth.

So, why, LGAC members wonder, would any county or city spend their citizens' dollars on lawyers to fight against clean water rather than using that money to improve their communities and their local streams?

Maryland’s county officials should recognize that their counties and towns have the most vital interest in the bay. If they give up their efforts, many in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and other states will use that as an excuse to do nothing. Rather than pulling back or arguing, I would expect Maryland localities to fully appreciate the value of clean local waters and set the example for all of those upstream.

There is so much financial assistance available, so many creative "green" engineering firms at work and so many solid, new ways to manage polluted runoff that we are dumbfounded by the resistance from these local leaders toward cleaner local waters for their communities and the bay. 

To the extent Conowingo Dam is an issue, let's get the right people to the table to talk constructively about the facts and solve the problem. The timing is perfect because the license for that dam is up for renewal.

Enough of creating diversions and pointing fingers to distract from the work that is so sorely needed. It's time to recognize that we are all in this together. It's time, past time in fact, to get busy on the work we were entrusted to do as our communities' leaders.

—J. Richard Gray

J. Richard “Rick” Gray is Mayor of Lancaster, Pa. and the Chair of the Local Government Advisory Committee, an independent group of elected local leaders from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia that advises the Bay Program’s Chesapeake Executive Council. 

Virginia Makes Progress on Bay Clean-Up Goals

The following op-ed appeared in the Richmond-Times Dispatch yesterday.

Photo courtesy Public Domain Images.

The Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams are polluted, evidenced by chronic algae blooms, oxygen-deprived dead zones and water that too often is unsafe for swimming.

The results of a polluted Bay include lost jobs and economic opportunities, degraded fish and shellfish populations and future generations that may never know the bay's full potential.

To clean up our waters, we must reduce nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution originating from many sources. Those include animal waste and farm fields; runoff from urban and suburban development; wastewater treatment plants and septic systems; and air pollution from cars, trucks and power plants.

Some sources, particularly wastewater treatment plants, have made significant progress in reducing pollution, largely due to Virginia's commitment to set strict regulatory limits and finance plant upgrades.

But not all sources have made such progress. In fact, the history of Chesapeake Bay restoration remains one of long-term goals set, then missed.

Most recently, in 2000, the Chesapeake Executive Council (bay state governors, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the District of Columbia's mayor) promised to restore the bay's health by 2010. However, in 2008 all acknowledged the effort would fail by a wide margin.

The Executive Council then recognized that setting only long-term goals lacked mechanisms for accountability and therefore was simply a recipe for failure. To address the missed goals, it charted a new course for the Chesapeake Bay's recovery.

* * * * *

First, by establishing targeted pollution reductions with state-specific plans (Clean Water Blueprints) on how to achieve them, states and local governments would have clearer, self-determined direction on how to achieve these goals.

Second, by committing to short, two-year goals, or "milestones," to reduce pollution in local rivers, streams and the bay, a mechanism for accountability was established.

In May 2009, bay state governors released their first milestones, a set of measures to be implemented by 2011 that would accelerate the pace of restoration and put the states on a trajectory to achieve full implementation by 2025.

Ensuring that Virginia and the EPA set effective milestone goals and actually achieve them is critical to the success of the state's Clean Water Blueprint. The public must hold state and federal governments accountable to the milestone goals.

Accordingly, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and the Choose Clean Water Coalition worked together to evaluate and publicize Virginia's milestone progress. Our intent is to ensure that the long-term deadlines for bay cleanup are met by keeping the spotlight on the state's short-term goals and identifying policy solutions in the event that milestone goals are missed.

* * * * *

We selected several goals within three general pollution areas—agricultural runoff, urban/suburban sources, and wastewater treatment—based on their potential to provide substantial nitrogen and phosphorus pollution reductions and to offer important lessons moving forward. We reviewed Virginia's progress in implementing improvements in cover crops, forest and grass buffers, wetland restoration, lawn fertilizers, stormwater runoff controls, septic pump-outs and wastewater controls.

The analysis was not without problems. We had difficulty fully understanding basic units of measurement used to track progress, estimates of baseline accomplishments from which to compare progress, and the intent of certain milestone commitments.

Without sufficient transparency and clear explanations of data, units and sources, the ability of the public to hold Virginia and the EPA accountable for progress is severely compromised. This first analysis reveals many ways to improve presentation and access to milestone data.

That said, we found that Virginia met six out of the nine milestone practices we selected for evaluation, including milestone commitments for wetland restoration, grass buffers, septic pump-outs and wastewater reductions. Additional efforts, however, are needed for implementation of cover crops, forest buffers, and lawn fertilizers to stay on track to achieve 60 percent implementation by 2017 and full implementation by 2025. We also found that more work is needed to fully track stormwater runoff controls.

What's our bottom line? We're cautiously optimistic. Virginia is tracking and making progress on short-term goals. For those missed goals, policy changes can make a difference. For lawn fertilizers, a new state law already on the books will improve progress. For cover crops and forest buffers, enhancing incentive programs for farmers can also improve progress.

We know that Virginia is capable of achieving pollution reductions when the political will is there to do it. By doing our own homework assessing Virginia's short-term progress, and holding Virginia and the EPA accountable for their commitments, we can restore the Chesapeake Bay and our rivers and streams.

—Ann Jennings
Virginia Executive Director
Chesapeake Bay Foundation


—Jacob Powell
Virginia Conservation Network and Choose Clean Water Coalition


Learn more about the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint—our best hope for a save Bay!

Amy's Clean Water Story

Amy's friend Jens jumping off the Martha Lewis. Photo by Amy Kehring.

If it weren't for the Bay, I wouldn't have such wonderful memories of trips from Havre de Grace to Deal Island and points in between.

Sailing on the Skipjack Martha Lewis, an historic vessel built in 1955, is a real treat and I can't imagine my life without this opportunity.

We've spent time on the beautiful Miles River, swimming and diving off of the bowsprit. We've spent time docked in Solomons Island crabbing off the pier. We've spent time anchored outside of Gibson Island, docked in Annapolis by the Naval Academy, and dredging for oysters over at Seven Foot Knoll.

The quality of the waters determine our ability to preserve oyster dredging--the main purpose of the boat I sail on. Without the oysters and the water, how would we teach people about the great history of the Bay? People depended greatly on the bounty of our Bay in the past, and still do.

I would have missed out on so many fun times—the swimming, fishing, cruising, and education of many people along the way—if it weren't for the beautiful Bay. If we can't keep the water clean, all of these opportunities will not be available for future generations to experience.

—Amy Kehring
Joppa, Maryland

Ensure that Amy and future generations continue to swim, fish, cruise, and learn on our waters and Bay. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprintour best hope for a saved Bay.


Photo of the Week: A Day on the Farm

ClagettCollagePhotos and photo collage by Christine Wysocki/CBF Staff.

Just last Thursday, CBF's Communications Department spent a day on Clagett Farm where we learned how important agricultural practices are to the health of the Chesapeake Bay. After Farm Manager Michael Heller took us on a tour via tractor and taught us about the importance of soil quality and how to preserve it as well as showcasing his beautiful grass-fed cattle, Carrie Vaughn, Vegetable Production Manager, put us to work planting sunflowers and tending to various vegetables. We completed the day with a satisfying picking of the farm's strawberries...yum! Clagett's ultimate goal is to use farming methods that are truly sustainable—both economically and environmentally—that prove to be a very good thing not only for the farm, but also for our waters and the Bay. 

—Emmy Nicklin

Check out more of our photos from the farm on Facebook!

Do you have a favorite Bay photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's E-Communications Manager, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign], along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. Please also join our Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Flickr group and post your pics to our Facebook page. We look forward to seeing your photos!