BAY

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con­cen­trated the nu­tri­ents are in lo­cal waters, the more they help mi­cro­scopic plants, such as al­gae, in the es­tu­ary to grow and cloud the wa­ter. When mi­cro­scopic plants ul­ti­mately die, they break down in a process that con­sumes the dis­solved oxy­gen. Dis­solved oxy­gen is the amount of oxy­gen

avail­able to sus­tain marine life, such as the crabs, an­chovies and bass. High nu­tri­ents tend to be as­soci­ated with cloudier wa­ter and lower dis­solved oxy­gen.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port card, ni­tro­gen and phos­pho­rus lev­els in­creased. Chlo­raphyll a, an indi­ca­tor of al­gae in the wa­ter, also in­creased.

Con­versely, im­prove­ments in wa­ter qual­ity contributed to the resur­gence of aquatic grasses,

con­sid­ered one of the most im­por­tant habi­tats in the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay. How­ever, the Patux­ent re­gion, where Calvert County falls west of the bay, had the low­est aquatic grass score.

Testa said the grasses that grow on the bot­tom of the bay are one of the or­gan­isms sci­en­tists are try­ing to re­store be­cause they cre­ate a habi­tat for a num­ber of dif­fer­ent or­gan­isms and pro­vide pro­tec­tion for smaller, vul­ner­a­ble species. There

are many fac­tors that de­ter­mine whether the grasses come back.

“They need light more than any­thing. If the wa­ter is too cloudy, there is not go­ing to be grasses com­ing back,” said Testa. “Part of Patux­ent’s low rel­a­tive grade is be­cause the wa­ter is still kind of cloudy.”

Progress has been made to cor­rect the wa­ter qual­ity.

“Mary­lan­ders are help­ing to pro­tect the land, wa­ter, air and nat­u­ral re­sources and

that’s lead­ing to a health­ier Bay for all,” Mary­land Depart­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment Sec­re­tary Ben Grum­bles said in the re­lease.

Grum­bles said even more progress can be made with the con­tin­u­a­tion of in­no­va­tion and part­ner­ship with all sec­tors within the wa­ter­shed, from agri­cul­ture to en­ergy and transportation, across all the streams, wet­lands and aquifers that feed into the bed.

Some lo­cal ef­forts to re­store and pre­serve the bay un­der­way in Calvert County have contributed to its im­proved health.

“It’s fair to say that the ma­jor im­prove­ments that have hap­pened in the Patux­ent wa­ter­shed, the up­grades to the sewage treat­ment fa­cil­i­ties, that’s part of an over­all ef­fort bay­wide, is a con­trib­u­tor to some of the im­prove­ments,” Testa said. “The trib­u­taries are re­ally im­pacted by their own water­sheds.”

The Patux­ent River re­ceived a sta­tus of “poor” ecosys­tem health. The Patux­ent’s score over the past five years has been rel­a­tively steady, with some in­di­ca­tors im­prov­ing while oth­ers de­clined.

Testa noted the rel­a­tively low grade for the Patux­ent is a sign there is still work to be done lo­cally to clean up the river.

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