Wa­ter Clar­ity

Kent County News - - OPINION -

To the ed­i­tor: While run­ning my trot line the other week for my last crab­bing trip of the sea­son, I was im­pressed at the clar­ity of the wa­ter.

It has not been the typ­i­cal “drought” sum­mer that of­ten leads to less tur­bid wa­ter. In fact, we’ve had sig­nif­i­cant pre­cip­i­ta­tion, yet the bot­tom was clearly vis­i­ble in 4 feet of wa­ter, so much so that the crabs were fre­quently drop­ping off be­fore within net­ting range. Not a bad prob­lem to have.

Also, wid­geon grass was con­tin­u­ally foul­ing my line, ev­i­dence of a heavy growth of this once com­mon submerged veg­e­ta­tion. Again, not a bad prob­lem to have.

While suc­cess­fully fill­ing my bushel with a limit of crabs, mas­sive schools of ale-wives (Men­haden fish) were clearly vis­i­ble, cir­cling my boat, another in­di­ca­tor of im­proved wa­ter qual­ity.

Co­in­ci­den­tally, while I was crab­bing, a crop duster was sow­ing fields with “cover crop” seeds ad­ja­cent to the body of wa­ter I was on. While I’ve had doubts about the ef­fec­tive­ness of the state sub­si­dized “cover crop” con­cept of re­duc­ing ni­tro­gen runoff, I had clear ev­i­dence in the wa­ter un­der my boat strongly sug­gest­ing some­thing had changed to im­prove the wa­ter and it per­haps is at least in part the ef­fect of the “cover crops.”

The agri­cul­ture com­mu­nity should re­ceive credit for this im­prove­ment, as well as the com­mu­ni­ties where im­prove­ments in sewage treat­ment have oc­curred. In ad­di­tion, the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Foun­da­tion and the River Keeper groups on the Mid- and Up­per Shore have suc­ceeded in keep­ing our aware­ness of our in­di­vid­ual re­spon­si­bil­ity in im­prov­ing wa­ter qual­ity and min­i­miz­ing pol­lu­tion of our waters.

The Keep­ers ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams for youth, I feel, is per­haps their most im­por­tant func­tion. Chang­ing the “mind-set” of years ago, which ex­cused throw­ing all your trash from your boat into the wa­ter be­liev­ing the Bay was ever for­giv­ing, to being aware that nearly all hu­man ac­tiv­ity can neg­a­tively af­fect the Bay is a chal­lenge the River Keep­ers are well po­si­tioned to ad­dress. Ed­u­cat­ing the young is prob­a­bly the best op­por­tu­nity for af­fect­ing this aware­ness. Now if we can just get Bal­ti­more City to stop dump­ing raw sewage — “ac­ci­den­tal spills” — into the Pat­ap­sco River, we might see even more im­prove­ment in the Bay. Michael. R. Pel­czar, DDS Ch­ester­town

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