Month: February 2014

Chesapeake Stormwater Network’s Homeowner Guide

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This afternoon I’ve been reading about the Chesapeake Stormwater Network and looking over their Homeowner Guide for a More Bay-Friendly Property. The guide goes into projects and practices such as rain gardens, rain barrels, planting trees, rain permeable driveways and conservation landscaping.

Reading for some starter tips on potential spring projects:

Homeowner Guide for a More Bay-Friendly Property

Chesapeake Stormwater Network

Friday News Roundup

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Virginia’s Northern Neck Soil and Water Conservation District briefed on consequences of hydraulic fracking, proposed in the region: (Rappahannock Record).

Secretary of Natural Resources for the Chesapeake Bay Appointed in Virginia: (Bay Journal)

Rally at Cove Point, Maryland to protest export of natural gas: (Baltimore Sun)

Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection hears responses to Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement: (PA Environment Digest)

More on Ocean Acidification and the Cheapeake Oyster

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Last week I shared a project on the state of the Eastern oyster, which included a review of restoration efforts in the Chesapeake region and a study on the potential impact of ocean acidification on the oyster population. As I mentioned in this report, acidification has had a major impact on the West Coast oyster industry, but has not yet had much of an effect on the East Coast. It is difficult to predict how the Chesapeake Bay will be affected by acidification, given the unique estuary that the Chesapeake is. The Bay is a mix of freshwater and saltwater, and salinity and depth vary across the estuary. Although many reports on ocean acidification exist, there are very few studies that have been conducted on acidification on coastal systems.

I learned today of a professor who has been studying the issue of acidification, and its effect on species native to the Chesapeake, such as the Eastern oyster and blue crab. Justin Ries works at the Marine Science Center in Northeastern University in Boston, and has been growing oysters and blue crabs in the lab. The organisms have been raised in water with high levels of carbon dioxide, to mimic possible future conditions on the East Coast. The results don’t look so promising for the now growing Chesapeake oyster industry. (See a 2010 Earth Magazine write-up here).

However, as mentioned, there is uncertainty as to the extent acidification will affect the Chesapeake. More studies must be conducted on coastal estuaries to be able to predict future conditions. In the meantime, representatives in the state of Maryland are attempting to bring this issue up for further study, examining the effects of acidification, and possible solutions, to be included in a report by the Maryland Department of Environment next year, (Maryland House Bill 118). Hopefully other states, especially Virginia, will follow suit.

Restoring Wetlands to Act as Carbon Sinks

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Restoring Wetlands to Act as Carbon Sinks

A report released by Restore America’s Estuaries, describes how wetlands can be used as carbon sinks to offset the impacts of climate change. The study focuses on a region on the West Coast, but there is a lot of potential for wetland restoration in the Chesapeake Bay area. The Chesapeake has many wetlands, several of which are in danger of disappearing. Could and should we restore wetlands in the Chesapeake region to act as carbon sinks? Which sites would be suitable for restoration?

The Restore American’s Estuaries Report:

Tunnel Under D.C. Will Reduce Flow of Sewage into Local Waters

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Tunnel Under D.C. Will Reduce Flow of Sewage into Local Waters

The Washington Post covered a story in Sunday’s paper on a solution to sewage overflow into local rivers. Workers are constructing a tunnel under Washington D.C., using a machine, “The Lady Bird,” to take up the soil. The end product will be a 13 mile long sewer tunnel, to prevent the flow of untreated sewage to the Potomac and Anacostia River, and to Rock Creek, which frequently occurs with the overburdened combined sewer system in the District.

This tunnel could do a lot to clean up the local rivers, and reduce the flow of polluted water into the Chesapeake Bay. The Post states that all the soil collected by the Lady Bird will be transported to a dumping site in Maryland. My question however, is what happens to all this excess soil? Is there risk of the soil reentering the watershed through runoff, and how much of a risk could this pose?

A Way to Reduce Nitrogen Runoff from Farms in the Chesapeake Watershed?

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A Way to Reduce Nitrogen Runoff from Farms in the Chesapeake Watershed?

The Bay Journal published an interesting article this week, looking at a way to reduce nitrogen from Maryland farms, using a bioreactor to filter runoff. The method has been used in the Midwest, and is currently being tested in the Chesapeake region.

Update on Virginia Runoff Bill

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Several weeks ago I shared an appeal from the Potomac River Conservancy, asking Virginians to contact their lawmakers about legislation on polluted runoff. Virginia passed stricter regulations for polluted runoff several years ago, but has failed to successfully implement these standards. Recent bills attempted to prolong the delay of stronger runoff regulations, but the bills were overturned in the state House and Senate last week. State localities must abide by the new runoff standards as early as July 1. Good news for Virginia’s waterways and for the Chesapeake!