2013 Chesapeake Bay Report Card Is Out, But News Is Not Good - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

2013 Chesapeake Bay Report Card Is Out, But News Is Not Good

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CAMBRIDGE, Md.- In some places, runoff is more visible than others, especially after a storm like the one that rolled through on Tuesday night.  Dave Nemazie, a marine scientist with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, says rain played a big part in water quality throughout 2013.

"On the eastern shore itself, we got a lot more rain than other parts of the watershed.  With that rain came a lot of pollutants associated.  The rain hits the ground and it carries the pollutants into the waterways." said Nemazie.

But how big of a problem is it?  While the bay's average health maintained a steady C, the mid-bay region fell from a C in 2012 to a D+.  While several of the western shore's rivers improved in health, the same was not felt here.  Scientists say the Choptank river's health is normally around a C-.  But in 2012, it actually went up to a C, before again in 2013 falling back to a C-, which in their minds means the Choptank hasn't seen any improvement in years.

So what's the source of this pollution?  The researchers say on the eastern shore, farms are still a major contributor, despite farmers efforts to make improvements.  Joe Layton, manager at Lazy Day Farms thinks the changes they have made will just take time.

"The damage was done over a long time, and the changes we've made will take a long time. I've been farming all my life and i've seen a drastic change since I was farming in the 60s and 70s." said Layton.

But he hopes those changes will take root over the next several years to improve Maryland's waterways.

Among the solutions proposed by the researchers is a request to use as little fertilizer as possible while farmers can still turn a profit.  They also suggest some farmers look into putting a buffer zone in place between their fields and waterways, whether that be grass or trees.

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