(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William C. Baker issued this statement following the release of the Chesapeake Bay Program 2012 survey of underwater grasses in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
"In Bay restoration we don't often see straight line progress, and the decline in underwater grasses in the Chesapeake Bay, as shown by the 2012 numbers, is a sobering reminder that extreme weather can set back recovery. It also reminds us that we need to focus on the elements we can control, especially reducing pollution to the Bay.
"In 2012, underwater grasses suffered a one-two punch. Extreme heat in 2010 led to a significant decline in grasses in the lower Bay in 2011. And 2011 was a very wet year, beginning with heavy spring rains and ending with Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, creating poor conditions for growth in 2012.
"The 2012 grasses number, however, does not tell the whole story. Two thousand and twelve also saw the smallest dead zone since 1985, oysters continuing to show resiliency, and investments in pollution reduction paying real returns.
"Though we can't control Mother Nature, reducing pollution, including better managing stormwater runoff before it gets into rivers and streams, will help mitigate weather extremes, improve water quality, and contribute to Bay grass revival. Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, the other Bay states, and the District of Columbia all committed to reducing pollution from all sources as their part of their Clean Water Blueprint. The decline in grasses this year underscores the need to implement the Blueprint as quickly as possible.
"Progress is being made, but many local waterways and the Chesapeake are still polluted. If we don't keep making progress, we will see more signs like this year's grasses numbers, and we will continue to have polluted water, human health hazards, and lost jobs—at a huge cost to society."