Bay Health Score Drops

      Record rainfall increased pollution and reduced water clarity in the Chesapeake Bay, decreasing the score in the State of the Bay report, put out by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The score dropped one point to 33, equivalent to a D+.

      “Heavy rains caused extended high flows in the Susquehanna River, which flushed debris, sediment and other pollutants into the Bay,” reports Alison Prost, CBF’s Maryland executive director. 

      But there are signs of hope. “Scientists are pointing to evidence of the Bay’s increased resiliency and ability to withstand, and recover from these severe weather events,” adds Beth McGee, the Foundation’s director of science and agricultural policy. “This resiliency is a direct result of the pollution reductions achieved to date.”

      The national Clean Water Blueprint requires Bay jurisdictions to reduce pollution into creeks, rivers and the Bay. Under it, state and local governments have committed to achieving specific, measurable reductions.

      The Foundation’s biennial report is based on 13 indicators in three categories: pollution, habitat and fisheries. Two indicators — dissolved oxygen and Bay grasses — improved.

       The goal is to achieve a score of 40 by 2025 and ultimately a 70, which the Foundation says would represent a saved Bay. The unspoiled ecosystem enjoyed by Captain John Smith in the 1600s serves as a theoretical benchmark, rating 100.