There’s Good News and Bad News About the Chesapeake Bay

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Every other year, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation releases a State of the Bay Report that evaluates the current status of our region’s most important watershed. The CBF has just issued its 2014 report news and the news is good… and bad.

First, the good news: the bay is less polluted than it has been before, with improved water clarity and a healthier oyster population. But those gains were offset by worse news for the bay’s populations of rockfish and blue crabs. In other words, while water quality improved, fish populations declined. Overall, the bay’s health rated a solid D+ — exactly the same as it was two years ago. One serious cause for concern is continuing high levels of phosphorus, which can in part be blamed by runoff from Eastern Shore poultry farms.

Now, it’s true that D+ is a pretty miserable grade. And it’s also true that a passing score — the score that would signify a “saved” Chesapeake Bay — is 70, and this year we only scored a 32, a score that means the bay is still “dangerously out of balance.” But it’s also true that a 32 is a small improvement on 2010’s score (31), and a serious improvement compared to 1983 (23). So while we’ve still got a ways to go, at least we’re on the right track.

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