BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Rain didn’t just fall in 2018, it piled up into a record breaker.
Scientists say the health of America’s largest estuary declined last year due to the effects of record-breaking precipitation.
“We took a dip last year due to the heavy rainfall,” Bill Dennison, of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, said. “The unprecedented rainfall. It didn’t crash, but it did take a dip.”
Researchers at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science gave the Chesapeake Bay an overall grade of 46 percent for 2018, down from 54 percent in 2017.
All of the indicators factored into the bay’s health index declined or stayed flat last year. Its letter grade of “C” is unchanged.
“The Bay became more turgid and we grew a lot more algae which created blooms which clouded the water even further,” Dennison said.
Besides nitrogen from animal waste and sewage spills — which fuels algae blooms and dead zones — the bay was hit with millions of tons of sediment.
The encouraging news, it could have been worse. Past rain events from hurricanes and tropical storms did far more damage than 2018’s record rains.
“It didn’t go nearly as bad as it did in 2003 and 2011,” Dennison said. “I think that’s the progress we’re seeing.”
Due to past efforts to upgrade sewage treatment plans, releasing water into the bay’s rivers and restoring the natural buffers that trap pollutants; it made for a strong bay to better weather last year’s weather.