Stream and River Restoration Is Critical to Reducing the Impacts of Storm Events on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed
Runoff from the rainfall caused by the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee set off a deluge of sediment, trash and toxic sewer wastes in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The satellite image below, captured by the MODIS Rapid Response Project at NASA/GSFC, is visual evidence of the daunting task that sits before environmentalists, businesses, and residents of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The massive, murky brown plume, clearly evident in the satellite image, is a witches brew of flotsam and sediment laden water that covers almost 50 percent of the 200-mile-long Bay.
This toxic plume originated from the scouring effects of large volumes of water flowing across farm fields, suburban yards, and impervious surfaces (roofs and parking lots), tumbled with by-products of urban and rural development (trash, fertilizers, human and animal wastes, etc.). Bay naturalists fear that this gigantic sediment plume will create yet another large dead zone in the Bay, imperiling already fragile oyster and mollusk populations.
The recent efforts of the EPA to enact a Total Daily Maximum Load (TMDL) for the Bay will begin to address these problems. The next step for local communities is to develop very specific Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) that will examine each and every Bay tributary to develop strategies that will lessen the impacts of storm events.
Read more about the effects of Tropical Storm Lee on the Bay at: www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/chesapeake-takes-a-beating-from-storm/2011/09/13/gIQAKNVaQK_story.html
Author Doug Pickford of Trout Headwaters, Inc. (THI), an environmental planner with 20 years of experience in the Chesapeake Bay area, follows events in the bay watershed as the tide turns from voluntary to mandatory for bay cleanup regulations and protections. Doug’s blog series for THI will document what is likely the largest and most significant watershed clean up effort in the history of the U.S., and offer his insights into some practical ways to assist the health of this magnificent natural resource.