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Scientists waiting to see if record 2018 rainfall dampens Bay recovery

January 7, 2019

Bay Journal — Karl Blankenship — January 7, 2019

"The water-fouling nutrients and sediment that were also flushed into the Bay by record-setting rainfall throughout the region will test the staying power of recent water quality improvements to the nation’s largest estuary.

At risk are improving trends for the Chesapeake’s fish-stressing “dead zone” and the restoration of its vital underwater grass beds and oyster populations.

Some cleanup efforts seemed to withstand the repeated downpours, but others faltered. Farmers struggled to plant pollution-absorbing cover crops, for instance.

It will be months before anyone can fully gauge the impact of higher-than-normal river flows that began flooding the Chesapeake in May and persisted through the rest of the year. August, September and November all set records for freshwater flows into the Bay, and December flows were running far above normal in its three largest tributaries, the Susquehanna, Potomac and James rivers.

“It’s very unusual to have seven months of above average flows,” said Scott Phillips, Chesapeake Bay Coordinator with the U.S. Geological Survey, “especially during this period of time. . .” 

Read the full article at the Bay Journal


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