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Chesapeake Bay Report Shows More Pollution

A new report says Chesapeake Bay is in danger of increased pollution from rivers and streams in its watershed. (JamesDeMers/Pixabay)
A new report says Chesapeake Bay is in danger of increased pollution from rivers and streams in its watershed. (JamesDeMers/Pixabay)
January 9, 2019

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Chesapeake Bay became more polluted last year for the first time in a decade, according to a new report from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which says the main sources of pollution are in Pennsylvania.

The foundation's "State of the Bay Report" claimed that extreme weather from climate change, including record summer rainfall, caused large amounts of dirty water to flow into the bay. Increased pollution from farms and city streets ended up in rivers and streams, particularly the Susquehanna River.

Harry Campbell, who heads the foundation in Pennsylvania, said more than half of the state's waterways drain into the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

"It's all about Pennsylvania's rivers and streams, and the lands that drain into them," he said, "and if we were to sustainably and successfully address this issue, we'd have to start at that source."

Campbell recommended cost-effective, green solutions such as planting more trees along city streets, rivers and streams, to help absorb nitrogen and other pollutants, both from the air and runoff. According to the state Department of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania has 19,000 miles of polluted rivers and streams.

Campbell also advocated helping farmers so that less debris and pollutants from agricultural areas enter bodies of water.

"There is a need for additional logistical, technical and financial assistance to help get the plans that are necessary to keep soils and nutrients on the land instead of in the water," he said.

To do this, Campbell said, it would cost the state resources beyond what's available in the Farm Bill to help farmers adapt to this reality.

Foundation president William Baker applauded the Keystone State's efforts to improve the watershed.

"The Commonwealth is developing a good science-based plan as to how to move forward," he said, "but there's simply no evidence that they have the political will to fund it."

Baker had some pointed words for the president. "The Trump administration's anti-environmental policies must be stopped," he said.

He urged the public to oppose the administration's denial of climate change and efforts to roll back environmental protections.

The foundation's "State of the Bay Report" is online at cbf.org.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - MD