Chesapeake Bay water quality highest since testing began

Chesapeake Bay water quality highest since testing began
Seagulls congregate near Tangier Island. (Source: Pixabay)

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Water in the Chesapeake Bay is as clean as it has been since monitoring began in 1985.

An estimated 42 percent of the bay met clean water standards between 2015 and 2017, a 5 percent increase from the previous testing period.

The increase in quality is attributed to a reduction in chlorophyll-a, which a measure of algae growth, and increases in dissolved oxygen and underwater grass.

The research was conducted by the Chesapeake Bay Program and published in the “Science of the Total Environment.”

Clarity improvements are the result of a decades-long effort to reduce pollution, making the bay more resilient to extreme weather such as hurricanes, the report said.

Despite the improvement, 58 percent of tidal waters are still considered impaired.

The data does not take into consideration the result of Virginia’s historic rainfall and river deposits in 2018. That data is still be collected. Increased rainfall and river flooding leads to more freshwater in the bay, which causes dead zones and reduction in life found in the bay, such as jellyfish.

It is not known how resulting river deposits will affect the bay’s water quality.

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