BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A recent report used 31 different indicators to measure the health of the Chesapeake Bay, and overall it showed great progress for restoration efforts.
The “Bay Barometer” reveals impressive improvements led by multiple agencies to restore the ecosystem.
“The goals were based on historical best conditions that we recorded in the assessments in order to build those standards in. So therefore, we’re striving towards conditions that have been established from the history of what we do have data for,” says Peter Tango of the United States Geological Survey.
Guided by the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, the report measures water quality, land and water habitats for fish and wildlife, the impact of climate change across the watershed, as well as ways to engage the community in restoration efforts.
“The actions we are encouraging everyone to take as good stewards will improve their local streams and rivers that people fish in that people want to have their grandkids be able to swim in without an eye infection,” says Kate Fritz of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. “So it’s not just about the Chesapeake Bay, it’s about all the streams and rivers that feed into the Chesapeake Bay, as well.”
Several highlights from the report include an abundance of blue crabs as the population rose to a record-breaking number of 254 million. Underwater grasses also showed great growth, reaching 53 percent of the goal to achieve 185,000 acres. Water conditions are also promising — nearly 40 percent of the Chesapeake Bay watershed met quality water standards.
While the report shows positive trends, there is still room for improvement.
“We are still seeing some issues, obviously with agricultural runoff, as well as urban and suburban storm runoff. especially as development and population grows across the watershed,” says Rachel Felver, communications director of the Chesapeake Bay Program.
Overall, the report is promising for 2017 and efforts are still on track to reach the goals of the agreement to protect and restore the bay.
The Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement was signed in 2014 and lays out proposals to achieve by 2025 for the overall health of the bay.