Bo­hemia River gets B grade in as­sess­ment



— The Bo­hemia River was given a fair rat­ing on its first wa­ter qual­ity re­port card per­formed by a lo­cal non­profit wa­ter­shed ad­vo­cacy group.

The Friends of the Bo­hemia’s wa­ter qual­ity sam­pling pro­gram gave the river an over­all B, said Re­becca Wright, di­rec­tor of the FOB’s sci­ence pro­gram. The grades are cal­cu­lated on a scale from an A to F and the guide­lines are set by the Mid-At­lantic Trib­u­tary As­sess­ment.

Chuck Fos­ter, pres­i­dent of FOB, said the test­ing took place at six tidal sites be­tween April and Oc­to­ber of last year and two non­ti­dal trib­u­tary sites, which were con­ducted year-round, to re­trieve cross-sectional data.

Wright said the grade sig­ni­fies that the river is do­ing well, but has a few things that can be worked on to be­come health­ier. She said the main prob­lems dis­cov­ered in­clude wa­ter clar­ity and sub­merged aquatic veg­e­ta­tion, com­monly known as SAVs, which both re­ceived Ds. She noted that the color of the wa­ter is more brown than clear which can be caused by stormwa­ter runoff, sed­i­ment be­ing stirred up by boats or al­gae liv­ing in the wa­ter. The clar­ity also af­fects the aquatic plant life in the river be­cause clearer wa­ter al­lows more light to the river’s bot­tom, al­low­ing the plants to thrive.

She said these plants cre­ate habi­tats for fish and crabs, and pro­duce oxy­gen that the ecosys­tem needs to sur­vive. In 2015, the river had about 132 hectares, or 326 acres, of the aquatic veg­e­ta­tion, a 25.6 per­cent in­crease from 2014 re­sults.

Fos­ter said the group is wait­ing on fund­ing from the county to help the group print and dis­trib­ute the re­port cards to south­ern county res­i­dents lo­cated be­tween the C&D Canal to Ce­cil­ton.

Dis­tribut­ing the cards will in­crease pub­lic aware­ness of the health of the river and in­clude 10 tips to help the re­duce pol­lu­tion into the river, he said. Tips in­clude not lit­ter­ing and re­duc­ing the amount of fer­til­izer on lawns be­cause ex­tra fer­til­izer will runoff sur­faces af­ter a rain­storm.

“Ev­ery­thing in your back­yard even­tu­ally im­pacts a body of wa­ter some­where,” Fos­ter said.


He said FOB is work­ing with the Elk and North­east Rivers As­so­ci­a­tion to help them cre­ate a wa­ter sam­pling pro­gram.

“We need, as a com­mu­nity, to do ev­ery­thing we can to pro­tect the beau­ti­ful en­vi­ron­ment we live in,” he said.

The FOB was not the only group to per­form a wa­ter qual­ity as­sess­ment, in May the Sas­safras River As­so­ci­a­tion re­vealed that the Sas­safras River re­ceived an over­all C+.

Last year’s re­port card in­cluded a non­ti­dal sites av­er­age of a D while this year’s grade rose to a C be­cause 14 out the 16 tidal sites have im­proved, re­ported Em­mett Duke, river­keeper with the as­so­ci­a­tion. Both the up­per and lower por­tions of the Sas­safras River re­tained their grades of a C and a B re­spec­tively year-to-year. Both por­tions of the river re­ceived fail­ing grades for SAVs be­cause there are not many plants, although veg­e­ta­tion has im­proved over the years, he said.

Mean­while, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Dew­berry Con­sul­tants gave a pre­sen­ta­tion last week on the wa­ter­shed as­sess­ment they were con­tracted by the county to com­plete. The as­sess­ment looked at por­tions of the Back Creek, Bo­hemia River and Lower Elk Creek to find lo­ca­tions for pos­si­ble stormwa­ter man­age­ment projects. Mar­shall McSor­ley and Van Funk, both with the county’s De­part­ment of Pub­lic Works, were at the meet­ing to an­swer ques­tions, as well.

McSor­ley said 25 pos­si­ble project sites, in­clud­ing Bo­hemia Manor mid­dle and high schools and Ce­cil­ton Park, were iden­ti­fied in the as­sess­ment. He said the project be­gan in Au­gust and the fi­nal re­port is due June 28.

The con­sult­ing firm sub­mit­ted a grant re­quest on be­half of the county to the Na­tional Fish and Wildlife Foun­da­tion and was awarded $48,195.52 along with the county’s con­tri­bu­tion of $77,011.

“The county’s as­sess­ment helps us iden­tity spe­cific sites where a project might be done,” Fos­ter said.

He said he hopes his group is able to tackle a few of the sug­gested projects made in the re­port. Wright agreed and said the as­sess­ment will aid in find­ing spe­cific ar­eas and im­ple­ment stormwa­ter man­age­ment prac­tices in the fu­ture.


Mem­bers of the non­profit Friends of the Bo­hemia wa­ter­shed ad­vo­cacy group pad­dle through Scotch­man’s Creek in the Bo­hemia River wa­ter­shed.

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