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Summer conditions for 2010 were influenced by above-average winter river flow and below-average late spring and summer flow into the Bay. The timing of flow was important this year, in comparison to 2009, when the spatial pattern of flow into the Bay was important. Additionally, summer air temperatures in 2010 were above average, and combined with flow, can affect phytoplankton and fish in the Bay. 2010 summer conditions included below-average fish kills, less abundant sea nettles, and a smaller volume of low dissolved oxygen.
Since the 2006 release of the first EcoCheck Chesapeake Bay report card, environmental report cards have gained increasing popularity and recognition as a public-friendly and scientifically sound method for reporting the health of a waterway. Recently, a number of watershed organizations in the Mid-Atlantic region have begun producing their own tributary-specific report cards. In 2009, the Mid-Atlantic Tributary Assessment Coalition (MTAC) was formed to foster collaboration among watershed organizations and to fully develop the potential of region-specific environmental report cards. This can be accomplished through the standardization of indicators, monitoring and sampling protocols, data analysis methods, and science communication techniques.
Residents of the Chesapeake Bay watershed depend upon a healthy Bay for food, recreation, and commercial enterprises. But the ways in which we use the watershed's lands—from driving our cars to spreading fertilizers—impact the health of the Bay's waters. Wastewater treatment plants, agricultural operations, and urban runoff are major sources of the nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution that threaten the Bay's health. The Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) is designed to restore the health of the Bay's waters by reducing the pollution from these and other sources.
EcoCheck (NOAA-UMCES partnership) has released the 2011 summer review. This year's summer conditions were influenced by high spring river flow, hot summer air temperatures, and late summer storms. Dissolved oxygen conditions were poor this summer, with the second largest volume of anoxic waters during late July in the last 25 years. Strong winds during Hurricane Irene mixed oxygen from the surface to the bottom waters during August and the volume of anoxic waters shrunk dramatically. Tropical Storm Lee brought heavy rains to an already saturated watershed, resulting in flooding of many rivers and washing tons of dirt and debris into the system. When compared to the forecast, the anoxic volume was greater than predicted for the early summer. The late summer anoxia forecast was for larger than the observed volume, which decreased due to the hurricane-driven mixing.
This document is the initial stage of assessment for Samoa's State of the Environment. Samoa's rich cultural heritage and future prosperity depend on a healthy environment. Over the past 50 years, Samoa's environment has been pressured by increasing population and development, agricultural expansion, invasive species of plants and animals, and disasters such as tsunamis, cyclones, and fires. A workshop was held to develop an assessment framework and assign expert assessments for six key habitats: Cloud Forest (very good) and Upland Forest (fair), Lowlands (poor), Coastal Strand (poor), Nearshore Marine (fair) and Offshore Marine (fair), and Rivers and Streams (good to poor); as well as other key resource areas such as climate change, air quality, waste disposal, renewable energy, and population pressures.
This report card provides a transparent, timely, and geographically detailed assessment of Chesapeake Bay. The overall health of Chesapeake Bay, determined using water quality and biotic indicators, declined slightly in 2011. The overall grade of D+ was a decrease for the second year in a row, down from a C- in 2010. Only two reporting regions, the Patapsco and Back Rivers, and the Lower Western Shore (MD), had improved grades in 2011. The highest-ranked region for the second year in a row was the Upper Bay, with a grade of C. For further details, visit the Report Card website.
Heath Kelsey, Caroline Wicks, and Alex Fries from IAN, and Katie Foreman of the Chesapeake Bay Program, traveled to Sandusky, Ohio, to conduct a two-day workshop on the development of two local report cards. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources works with volunteers to monitor water quality in Old Woman Creek and Pipe Creek to assess the ecological health of these watersheds that flow into Lake Erie. IAN is helping to develop two related, but stand-alone report cards for these watersheds.
On September 26 and 27, Heath Kelsey from IAN and Jonathan Higgins from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) presented a framework and vision for a report card at the America's Great Watershed Initiative (AGWI) Summit in St. Louis, MO. The framework includes balanced information from Social, Economic, and Environmental sectors, and is intended to be transparent and clear. AGWI is led by TNC, and aims to implement integrated river basin management for the Mississippi River watershed by assessing progress toward seven broad goals. IAN will continue to work with TNC to advance the project, framework, and report card.
The Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund was created in 2007 in an effort to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution to these bays. The Trust Fund has focused its financial resources on the implementation of effective non-point source pollution control projects using best management practices (BMPs) in high priority watersheds. Examples of projects supported by the Trust Fund include stream channel restorations, stormwater retrofits, and cover crops. Evaluating BMP effectiveness is necessary for demonstrating whether projects actually reduce pollutant yields. The current monitoring strategy indicates that BMPs implemented in Trust Fund projects must demonstrate a water quality response within three years of completion. This document provides an overview of the challenges facing Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays and provides guidance to potential and current Trust Fund recipients in determining suitable approaches for measuring BMP effectiveness.
Further information: www.ian.umces.edu