Dec 29, 2010

Chesapeake Bay Health Continues to Struggle

New report says crab population improving, but pollution and water quality are still problems

The health of the Chesapeake Bay is improving, but pollution and runoff continue to cause problems, according to a report released by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The foundation’s “2010 State of the Bay Report” gave the bay’s health a grade of 31 out of 100, or a D+, the Washington Post reported. Despite an increase in the blue crab population, the bay continues to experience fish kills and has many dead zones, areas that do not have enough oxygen.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation uses 13 indicators to measure the bay’s health, ranging from animal and plant populations to surrounding areas to pollution levels. Eight of the indicators rose, including the ones measuring crabs and underwater grasses. In April, Maryland and Virginia officials announced that the blue crab population had doubled in the last two years.

To receive a perfect score, the bay would have to regain the animal populations and amount of surrounding wetlands and forests that it had when Capt. John Smith first arrived to explore the area in the 17th century.

The report was released just before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to announce whether plans submitted by the District of Columbia and states surrounding the bay are sufficient to protect and improve the bay’s waters over the next 15 years.