Bay Journal

November 2006 - Volume 16 - Number 8

Impact from watershed’s population growth may overtake gains in Bay cleanup

The Chesapeake Bay watershed population is growing significantly faster than a decade ago, according to new U.S. Census Bureau data—a finding that means states in the region may need to undertake even greater nutrient and sediment control actions to meet Bay cleanup goals.

A new analysis of census data shows that from 2000 through 2005, the population within the the watershed increased by 170,000 per year—or about 466 people every day.

That’s significantly higher than the growth rate of 124,000 people per year that existed during the 1990s. The overall population in the watershed hit 16.6 million last year, according to the analysis. ...

Related News:

U.S. population consuming its way to 300 million and beyond

Project to slash chicken litter emissions to revolutionize industry from ground up

That stink that comes from chicken houses? Blame moisture.

The naturally occurring moisture in chicken waste is what causes it to produce ammonia—and the stench that neighbors of poultry farms know well. One Maryland university is investing more than $3 million in a project to clean up chicken houses with a plastic flooring and ventilation system. Its creators say it could slash ammonia emissions that can sicken birds and leave neighbors holding their noses.

“This is like a revolution,” said Jeannine Harter-Dennis, a poultry science professor at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, which recently announced that it will spend $3.3 million in federal and state grants to develop the flooring. ...

Citizens Advisory Committee seeks youth representatives

The Citizens Advisory Committee to the Chesapeake Executive Council is seeking motivated young residents from Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia and Pennsylvania with a strong interest in providing perspectives on restoring/preserving the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries to fill vacancies in their Young Delegates program.

The mission of the CAC—a 25-member committee composed of residents of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia—is to advise the governors of these states, the D.C. mayor, the EPA administrator, and the Chesapeake Bay Commission on the activities, progress and priorities of the Chesapeake Bay Program. ...

VA attorney general files suit to curb pollution in Shenandoah

Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell in October filed suit to require a Rockingham County plant that treats waste from two poultry processors to curb its pollution of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River.

McDonnell’s lawsuit in Rockingham County Circuit Court followed environmentalists’ notice in August of intent to sue Sheaffer International L.L.C. over the discharging of phosphorous and nitrogen into the branch of the Shenandoah, a Potomac River tributary that has had massive fish kills in recent years. ...

Parts of planned development closest to Blackwater refuge blocked

Parts of a development planned near the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge were blocked in October by the Maryland Critical Area Commission.

The commission, which reviews development plans near the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic coastal bays, voted 22-0 to block a growth allocation designation on 313 acres near the refuge. Dorchester County and the city of Cambridge have approved the development, called Blackwater Resort Communities.

As proposed, the development would bring 2,700 homes, plus a golf course and hotel, to what now is mostly farmland south of Cambridge. ...

Dead zones increasing in number, size throughout world’s oceans, seas

Scientists have found 200 dead zones in the world’s oceans—places where pollution threatens fish, other marine life and the people who depend on them.

The United Nations recently released a report that showed a 34 percent jump in the number of such zones from just two years ago.

Pollution-fed algae, which deprive other living marine life of oxygen, are the cause of most of the world’s dead zones, which cover tens of thousands of square miles of waterways. Scientists chiefly blame fertilizer and other farm runoff, sewage and fossil-fuel burning. ...

Average isn’t always normal when it come to yearly flows to Bay

When it comes to freshwater flows, it’s been a roller-coaster year for the Chesapeake.

After peaking in December and January, river flows into the Bay were below normal all spring, before once again rising to record and near-record levels in June and July as torrential rains flooded the watershed.

But when it was all averaged out, the 2006 “water year”—which runs from October 2005 through September 2006—was about as normal as it could get: averaging 77,800 cubic feet per second—which is 98 percent of the long term average of 78,600 cfs. ...

Scientists get to the bottom of what terrain is below Bay’s surface

By bouncing bits of sound off the bottom of the Chesapeake, scientists are putting together a new crab’s-eye view of the Bay.

Using high-tech sonar gear, they cruise back and forth along parts of the Bay at 100-meter intervals, bouncing acoustic “pings” off the bottom about every 50 centimeters. Onboard computers and specialized software determine whether the sound that comes back was reflected off mud, sand, oyster bar or other bottom type.

Their goal is to complete a new map of the Bay that ultimately links fish populations and other aquatic communities to types of habitat found on the bottom. “We literally approach integrated assessments from the bottom up,” said Jay Lazar, a hydrographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Chesapeake Bay Office. ...

Recent court rulings may affect ariakensis introduction, or not

A recent federal court ruling in California may have shed new light on—but not fully resolved—the question of who has the last word about introducing a breeding population of nonnative oysters into the Chesapeake.

State and federal agencies have been working for three years to complete an Environmental Impact Statement on the risks and benefits of introducing an Asian oyster, Crassostrea ariakensis, into the Chesapeake. A draft of the study is expected early next summer.

But a key question will remain unresolved—who ultimately has authority to allow the introduction of a nonnative species into the Bay? State officials have generally argued that it is a state decision, while federal officials had advised against discounting the federal role. ...

Effort to give students a Bay experience has slow but sure learning curve

The regional effort to give students a quality experience with environmental education has turned out to be an education for everyone involved.

In the Chesapeake 2000 agreement, partners in the Chesapeake Bay Program committed to providing every student in the Bay watershed with at least one meaningful watershed experience before graduation, beginning with the class of 2005.

The bar was set high. The Bay Program defines a “meaningful watershed experience” as one that combines classroom preparation, an outdoor experience that applies or advances classroom learning and reflection or analysis. ...

At least $5 million in grants available for projects to reduce nutrient runoff to Bay

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the EPA recently announced the availability of more than $5 million in grant funding through the Chesapeake Bay Targeted Watersheds Grant Program for projects that reduce nutrient runoff to the Bay and its tributaries.

In this second year of the program, the foundation will award more than $5 million to support projects that expand the collective knowledge on the most innovative, sustainable and cost-effective strategies—including market-based approaches—for reducing excess nutrient loads within specific tributaries to the Bay. ...

Bay Gateways Network’s future in jeopardy as funds are eliminated

The National Park Service’s Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, which had already received a sharp budget cut this year, has been out of money altogether since Oct. 1, when the federal government’s new fiscal year began.

Supporters of the network, which provides the park service’s main link with the Chesapeake, are battling to get Congress to restore funds when it returns in mid-November.

“Every year the Gateways Network has been in existence, we have had to go back to Congress and literally fight for our funding,” said Marci Ross, assistant director of the Maryland Office of Tourism, who serves on the Gateways Network Working Group, which offers advice on the program. ...

U.S. population consuming its way to 300 million and beyond

The U.S. population hit 300 million Oct. 17, and it is causing a stir among environmentalists.

People in the United States are consuming more than ever—more food, more energy, more natural resources. Open spaces are shrinking and traffic in many areas is dreadful.

But some experts argue that population growth only partly explains growing U.S. consumption. Just as important, they say, is where people live, what they drive and how far they travel to work.

“The pattern of population growth is really the most crucial thing,” said Michael Replogle, transportation director for Environmental Defense, a New York-based advocacy group. ...

Ward Oyster Co.

Features

Travel

Ernst Conservation Seeds: Restoring the Native Balance.
A Documentary Inspired by William W. Warner’s 1976 Exploration of Watermen, Crabs and the Chesapeake Bay.

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