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Sampling Sandy’s Pollution Load for the Chesapeake Bay

PHOTO: USGS is testing rivers and streams for nutrients, pesticides and sediment associated with Hurricane Sandy. Photo credit: Deborah C. Smith.
PHOTO: USGS is testing rivers and streams for nutrients, pesticides and sediment associated with Hurricane Sandy. Photo credit: Deborah C. Smith.
November 5, 2012

BALTIMORE - Water samples are being collected this week in rivers and streams in areas hit by Hurricane Sandy. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has gathered several rounds of samples to check nutrient, sediment and pesticide levels, which could have been affected by the storm.

Project coordinator Charles Crawford says it's important to document the changes because they can cause long-term problems.

"You can have 75-80 percent of the total load of nutrients that are washed into Chesapeake Bay: that can happen in this one rare event."

He says excessive nutrients can cause algae blooms and other water-quality issues that mean more water treatment and fewer recreational opportunities.

Crawford says the area is fortunate that the rain didn't fall at expected levels. That minimized river and stream flooding, although the storm surge flooding brings a whole new set of problems.

"You know, it inundated a lot of things that aren't normally inundated during a flood. And so there could be a lot of chemicals that you wouldn't normally get."

Sampling is taking place near the Chesapeake Bay, as well as in rivers throughout the region.



Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD