The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science has released its 2022 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Report Card, which rated the overall health of the Chesapeake watershed with a grade of B-. While the report noted improvement in the health of Chesapeake Bay, scoring it a C, it also noted that “most tributaries scored poorly.”
The new Environmental Justice Index in this year’s report found “strong disparities,” with cities and rural areas experiencing higher impacts than suburban areas.
In response to the report, Chesapeake Bay Foundation President Hilary Harp Falk issued the following statement:
“While we are making progress, far too much pollution still reaches our waterways and climate change is only making matters worse. To accelerate the Bay cleanup, jurisdictions need to increase investments that address both pollution and climate change. Investing in regenerative agriculture, planting more trees and forest buffers, and expanding green infrastructure such as rain gardens and bioswales in urban areas are essential to long-term success and local quality of life.
“The disparities pointed out in the Environmental Justice Index are a stark reminder that the burden of pollution and its impact on human health and our quality of life are not borne equitably. It is essential that this information be used to address environmental injustices.
“Across the region, the majority of the pollution reduction necessary must come from agriculture. While it is critical that the U.S. Department of Agriculture increase conservation funding and technical assistance, a recent study from the Bay Program’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee has reinforced that more funding alone will not be enough. We can still leave clean water and a healthy environment to the next generation, but only if Bay leaders listen to the science, target efforts more strategically, and begin paying for the outcomes that matter most to local communities and the Bay downstream.”