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