The Chesapeake Bay Foundation gave the estuary’s health a D-plus grade this week, a one-point improvement from the previous rating in 2010.
But in his message in presenting the foundation’s report, President William C. Baker said the Bay and its tributaries were “still a system dangerously out of balance” and that much of the Bay and many waterways that run into it fail to provide healthy habitats.
Overall, the Bay’s health received a score of 32, for a D-plus. Of the 13 criteria used by the foundation to assess the Bay, five scores improved. Among them were crabs, which scored a B-plus, up five points from two years ago.
Also scoring higher were dissolved oxygen levels, important for sustaining life, up six points to a D grade; nitrogen and phosphorus levels with a four-point improvement for a D, and resource lands and oysters, up a point each to D-plus and F, respectively.
Rockfish were the only indicator that rated an A, but without a change in score. Forested buffers also fared well with a B-plus, but no change in score. They were among seven indicators that remained unchanged.
The rating for underwater grasses, which provide habitat and food, help prevent erosion, absorb excess nutrients and release oxygen, declined two points for a D-minus.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s report called on Maryland to provide more technical assistance and funding to local governments to help them meet their goals for reducing pollution flows into the Bay and for Virginia to provide state funds to help local governments, farmers and utilities.
The report also said Pennsylvania needs to increase efforts to reduce pollution and sediment from agriculture and stormwater runoff.
— Margie Hyslop