Cleaning Up The Chesapeake Bay; Quality Improving

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — According to a federal report, 2015 saw fewer pollutants in rivers feeding the Chesapeake Bay. The oversight agency saw signs of it this spring.

“The bay’s responding. When we reduce pollution, the bay gets better,” said Kim Coble of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

“We’re now seeing more grasses grow up in parts of the Chesapeake where it’s never showed up before,” said Nick Dipasquale, Chesapeake bay program.

The major threats to water quality all showed improvement. Nitrogen pollution showed a 25-percent reduction, phosphorous a 44-percent reduction and sediment loads a 59-percent reduction.

“We’re very encouraged by the report,” said Coble.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation credits efforts by states in the watershed, with cleaner burning power plants and improved sewage treatment plants reducing pollution.

“There’s always room for improvement. We can’t take our foot off the pedal,” said Coble.

The emphasis now is on five counties in Pennsylvania, where agriculture impacts the Susquehanna River.

The headwaters of the Chesapeake still carry some of the most massive loads of sediment and nitrogen.

If farmers in those five south central Pennsylvania counties planted cover crops to absorb excess fertilizer and installed fencing to keep livestock and their waste out of water, then that could jump-start the reductions.

“It’s not technically hard. It’s just a matter of getting the resources to the farmers so they can do the work,” said Coble.

If $20 million in federal funds can somehow make it to those farms, and keep a good thing growing.

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More from Alex DeMetrick

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