The water is clearer, the underwater grasses are coming back and so are the oysters, if only incrementally, according to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s latest report on America’s largest estuary.
Pollution is declining and the dead zones are shrinking. And that’s all to the good. But two of the bay’s iconic species—crabs and rockfish—are in trouble. And the scores for other indicators, such as wetlands, toxics and nitrogen pollution did not change.
Bay Foundation scientists put together the report based on available historical and up to date information for 13 different indicators in three categories: pollution, habitat and fisheries. They consider the condition of the bay when John Smith explored it in the early 1600s a perfect score of 100, but say they’ll consider a 70 as success. This year’s score was 32, not good, but better than the score of 28 in 2000 or 31 in 2010.
Will Baker, the foundation’s president, said he “can celebrate water quality improvements,” but at the same time “acknowledge that many local rivers, streams and the Chesapeake Bay are still polluted.”
The clean water blueprint, better known as the bay’s pollution diet is working, he said, but the progress is fragile. “The states must pick up the pace of reducing pollution.”