USGS figures show that, except for March and April, river flows into the Chesapeake Bay have been higher than normal every month starting last July, one of the longest periods of sustained high river flows on record.
Bay Journal—Article: Continued high river flows having mixed impacts on Bay and its resources
Because persistent high flows drive bloom-feeding nutrients and cloud the water with sediment, they are generally considered bad news for underwater grasses, which depend on clear water to get the sunlight they need to survive.
Still, the often record-setting rains that commenced a year ago have not been a total washout for the estuary.
Underwater grass beds — a closely watched indicator of Bay health — appear to have survived last year’s influx of muddy water. Field reports from this spring made scientists cautiously optimistic that the beds may not suffer the extensive dieback they had feared.
But scientists say this spring’s high flows may have hurt the spawning run of shad in many places — it was the worst-ever on the Susquehanna. And biologists say the freshwater has allowed invasive blue catfish and snakeheads to turn up in places they haven’t been seen before.
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