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West and Rhode Rivers Squeaking By

Water quality up to D+

Slight improvement with a long way to go to in water quality. That’s the news in the just-released 2014 West/Rhode Rivers report card.
    The annual report, funded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust, once again flags the rivers’ health with a D+. Water clarity, dissolved oxygen and nutrient levels were all slightly better or the same as last year’s. But the rivers are still failing in restoring underwater grasses.
    Riverkeeper Jeff Holland notes that sea grass plantings in other areas of the Bay may provide seed source for the West/Rhode Rivers. Underwater grasses provide marine habitat, generate oxygen and protect shorelines.

Water Clarity: D–

Dissolved Oxygen: A–

Nutrients: C+

Chlorophyll: D

Underwater Grasses: F

Average Score: D+

Bacteria: A– (not included in average score calculation)

    Swimmers can breathe easy. Bacteria levels scored an A. But there are still hot spots in the shallow headwaters, making it unsafe to swim after storms. Updated bacterial reports for 14 sites around West and Rhode Rivers are available in a free app, called The Swim Guide.
    Data collected by the West/Rhode Riverkeeper, along with various partners, was compared to thresholds established by the Mid-Atlantic Tributary Assessment Coalition. Drs. Sally Hornor and Tammy Domanski conducted bacteria analysis at Anne Arundel Community College. Other data come from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and Drs. Charles Gallegos and Thomas Jordan at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.
    The report card includes ways that citizens can make their waterways cleaner and healthier, from installing rain barrels to creating living shorelines.