This Week in the Watershed: A Torrent of Trash


Trash, branches, and other debris coat the water's edge at CBF's Merrill Center. High water from heavy rains necessitated the opening of 20 floodgates at the Conowingo Dam on July 27, 2018. The torrential water flow sent heavy debris miles down the Chesapeake Bay.

Alice Christman/CBF Staff

The health of our local waterways and the Bay is often hidden below the surface. Water quality surveys assessing criteria such as oxygen levels, temperature, and clarity can paint a picture of the water's condition and its capacity for life. But other times, water quality is in plain sight.

Following days of relentless rain, trash, debris, and sediment have inundated the Bay from upstream waters. Partially at fault for this deluge is the Conowingo Dam, which alters the form and timing of water from the Susquehanna River and pollution reaching the Bay. With tons of sediment trapped behind Conowingo's walls, extreme weather events can scour that sediment and wash it downstream.

But that's only part of the story. Satellite imagery reveals that a majority of pollution comes much farther upstream. The ultimate solution is stopping pollution at its source upstream in the Susquehanna River. This is where restoration efforts such as the recently announced Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership will make an impact.

For now, the trash and debris floating south is a clear and unambiguous reminder that the Bay is not yet saved. With full implementation however, the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint can allow us to leave a legacy of clean water to future generations.


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This Week in the Watershed: Rainy Days, Shaking Shell, and Tabs for Crabs

  • While the work to restore the Bay's native oyster population isn't always glamorous, it's always worthwhile, as volunteers shell shaking at CBF's Maryland Oyster Restoration Center can testify. (Baltimore Sun–MD) BONUS: Register here to join us for shell shaking!
  • Governor Hogan addressed the surge of debris flowing down the Bay, calling on Pennsylvania to fast track its restoration efforts. (Baltimore Sun—MD) BONUS: CBF Statement
  • An innovative use for excess dredging materials is planning to resurrect a former shoreline in Baltimore County. (Bay Journal)
  • Teachers in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley received a deep-dive education on sustainable agriculture and its impact on water quality. (WHSV—VA)
  • CBF received a boost in its oyster restoration efforts, as a NOAA grant will increase the number of oysters in the Little Choptank River and Tred Avon River. (Baltimore Sun—MD)
  • Cheers to National Bohemian and its "Tabs for Crabs" program, which donates ten cents to CBF for every tab sent to the Baltimore brewery. (Daily Times—MD)
  • A permit for a large chicken farm on Maryland's Eastern Shore was withdrawn after community protest of the farm's impact on polluted runoff. (Bay Journal)
  • Heavy rains have inundated the Bay and its shorelines with trash and debris from upstream waters. (Capital Gazette—MD) BONUS: CBF Statement

What's Happening Around the Watershed?

August 8, 11, 15, 18, 22, 25, 29

  • Upper Marlboro, MD: What's better than the taste of fresh vegetables, just picked from the farm? Ones you've picked yourself! Join the staff of CBF's Clagett Farm, a 285-acre working, sustainable farm, in harvesting vegetables for their CSA and workshare program. Put in a few hours work and bring home your own share of fresh produce. Register here!

August 10, 17, 24, 31

  • Shady Side, MD: Break a sweat and help Save the Bay—join CBF in cleaning the "homes" of the next generation of Chesapeake Bay oysters! Help restore the Chesapeake's native oyster population by cleaning oyster shells. We'll be shaking off the dirt and debris on shells so baby oysters can successfully grow on them. This "shell shaking" event is a bit of a workout but a fun, hands-on experience. With lifting involved, it is not recommended for individuals with bad backs or other health concerns. A tour of our restoration center will follow the shell shaking. Register here!

August 23

  • Virginia Beach, VA: Join us for an evening of cocktails, live music, and oysters galore with a beautiful view at CBF's Brock Environmental Center. Register here!

August 25

  • Wrightsville, PA: Join CBF, Heroes on the Water, and local Trout Unlimited chapters for a day of fishing, paddling, and fly-fishing lessons on the Susquehanna River as we celebrate our veterans and the value of clean waterways. Veterans, community members, paddlers, fishermen, friends, and family are welcome at Shank's Mare Outfitters from 1 to 5 p.m., to discover and appreciate the Susquehanna. From 5 to 7 p.m., CBF will host a dinner and open bar with live music for all participants. There is a $5 entrance fee for dinner and drinks. Register here!

September 9

  • Virginia Beach, VA: Join us for the second annual Save the Bay Family Day! Bring your family and friends for a thrilling day of educational experiences, local bites, live music, and more. This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Register here!
Drew Robinson 90x110

Drew Robinson

Former Digital Advocacy and Outreach Manager, CBF

Issues in this Post

Runoff Pollution   Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint   Conowingo Dam and
Chesapeake Bay
  Keystone Ten Million Trees Partnership   Restoration   Water Quality   CBF in Maryland   CBF in Virginia   Eastern Shore Office   Federal Affairs Office   Hampton Roads Office   Maryland Office, Annapolis   Pennsylvania Office   Virginia Office, Richmond  


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