Washed away? Torrential rains threaten Bay restoration gains

Release Date:

Bay Journal — by Jeremy Cox — September 4, 2018

"Up to her chest in muddy water, Cassie Gurbisz had a clear realization.

Cassie Gurbisz, a St. Mary’s College coastal ecosystem ecologist, prepares to take a sample of underwater grasses near the Susquehanna Flats during a research cruise in mid-August. (Jeremy Cox)

“When I just went down, it was pitch-black at the bottom,” said Gurbisz, a coastal ecologist with Maryland’s St. Mary’s College, as she prepared for another dive into the Upper Bay. “I’ve never been in water this murky before.”

The chocolate-colored water was caused by an unusual summertime deluge that dumped a foot or more of rain in parts of Maryland and Pennsylvania over a five-day span beginning July 21. Just as water levels began falling, a smaller sequel roared into northern Pennsylvania and southern New York, adding another 2–6 inches of rainfall.

The health of the Chesapeake has shown signs of improvement in recent years, with underwater grass beds reaching levels not seen in decades, and dissolved oxygen levels ticking upward in deepwater areas. The persistent storms could be a setback, at least in the short term, for recovery efforts, though it will take weeks, if not months, of monitoring for scientists to fully assess the potential damage — or even know the amount of water-fouling nutrients and sediment that were flushed into the Bay. . ."

Read the full article at the Bay Journal


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