A Chesapeake Bay River So Clear, You Can Snorkel In It

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Local photographer Jan Fleming and CBF Naturalist John Page Williams take us under the Severn River's surface to see recovery in progress.
Local photographer Jay Fleming and CBF Naturalist John Page Williams take us under the Severn River’s surface to see recovery in action.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the terrific two minute Chesapeake Bay Foundation video below is worth at least ten thousand. It’s a rare chance to peak under the Bay’s surface and see recovery progress in action. 

Filmed in late May by local photographer (and snorkeler) Jay Fleming, he and CBF’s Senior Naturalist John Page Williams share their underwater adventure along the Severn River. This video illustrates what scientists have long predicted – if we clean it, they will come. The cleaning part is collectively reducing nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment pollution coming from our sewage plants, farms and streets. And the newcomers will be sea grasses, crabs, oysters and improved water quality that supports a healthier ecosystem (and frisky Horseshoe crabs). 

Chesapeake Bay Senior Scientist Beth McGee explains, “We have made substantial progress throughout Maryland reducing pollution from sewage wastewater treatment plants – this includes upgrades to the Annapolis plant. In addition, we are also seeing many stormwater remediation projects go on the ground as a result of Anne Arundel county’s stormwater utility fee.”

As Williams notes in the video, we have reasons to celebrate and there’s still a lot of work to be done. The Chesapeake Bay is huge, and different sections of the estuary are polluted and impacted by different factors.

As we reported recently, the 600-pound gorilla in the room is Pennsylvania farms. Our neighboring state’s sky-high rate of agricultural pollution is the reason the Chesapeake Bay won’t meet its 2017 nitrogen clean up goals.

Yet, as you can see, collective clean-up efforts can work. 

Laurel Peltier
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