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More Than 1/3 Of Chesapeake Bay Is A 'dead Zone'

Guest John S.

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Guest John S.

The 2005 dead zone is living up to predictions. Earlier this summer, EPA predicted problems for this summer and test results now show more than 36 percent of the Bay’s mainstem holding too little oxygen. And the problems aren’t limited to the mainstem; testing in many Chesapeake Bay tributary rivers has turned up “bad water” as well.


“It is alarming and depressing that dead zones are becoming a summer routine,” said Roy A. Hoagland, CBF Vice President for Environmental Protection and Restoration.


In Maryland, from Fort McHenry in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor down through the Magothy and Severn Rivers, dissolved oxygen levels are unhealthy to just plain gone. On Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the Corsica River, Eastern Bay, and the Little Choptank River are all in poor shape for dissolved oxygen.


In Virginia, CBF staff have documented "bad water" in the Rappahannock, York, and Piankatank rivers and watermen have reported dead fish and crabs in pots in the Great Wicomico.


Like animals on land, nearly all of the Chesapeake Bay’s aquatic life, from worms and crabs on the bottom, to perch and striped bass above and underwater grasses in between, depend on oxygen to survive. Low dissolved oxygen levels can impair growth and reproduction and stress living resources, making them vulnerable to disease. Water with no oxygen will kill most aquatic animals.


"If we are to stop "dead zones" from appearing in the Bay, we need to invest in the Bay. That means our elected officials need to provide the leadership necessary to substantially increase funding to upgrade sewage treatment plants and to provide farmers the resources they need to reduce pollution from agriculture,” Hoagland said.

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