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Hosted by: Scott LaMar



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Radio Smart Talk: Chesapeake Bay report card

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Jan 7, 2013 8:27 AM

Radio Smart Talk for Monday, January 7:

Thumbnail image for Chesapeake Bay with old wharf 300 x 170.jpg

The health of the Chesapeake Bay is improving ever so slightly. 

Last week, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation released its 2012 State of the Bay Report and gave the bay a score of 32 out of 100.  That is up one point from 2010.  The goal is a score of 70, which would represent a saved bay, according to the Foundation..

The Foundation scores 13 categories to compile the report card.  They include oysters, shad, crabs, striped bass (rockfish), underwater grasses, wetlands, forested buffers, resource lands, toxics, water clarity, dissolved oxygen, and phosphorus and nitrogen pollution.  Of the 13 indicators, five improved, seven stayed the same, and only one declined.

The only indicator that declined was bay grasses and that was attributed to high water temperatures in the lower bay and heavy rain.

Appearing on Monday's Radio Smart Talk will be Harry Campbell, Senior Scientist for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Pennsylvania.

Listen to the program:

The gallery below features some beautiful scenery from around the bay.

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Harry Campbell discusses the efforts being made to help restore the Chesapeake Bay.

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Comments: 12

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-07 09:20

    E-mail from D.:

    "I'm in agreement with the needed steps to be taken to help save the bay. But on the shores within the bay are homes built right along the shore line, in violation of a law requiring a set back to avoid run off into the bay. If we up river are going to have pay and change our way of life, then let's get serious and correct an obvious and blatant violation, the developers, buyers and lack of enforcement."

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-07 09:22

    E-mail from O.:

    "I'm in York County and live downhill from a large dairy farm. In the storm run off I've seen and video recorded a dirty white frothy build up. And of course this run off goes into the local stream. I've considered contacting the local municipality, but unfortunately where I'm at is a "good old boy mentality" (I've called about an obvious problem in the past to no avail).

    What are my options and what could this foam be?"

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-07 09:27

    E-mail from M.:

    "Please ask about the hazardous silt build up behind the Conowingo Dam and what is being done about it."

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-07 09:38

    E-mail from Joan:

    "What harmful long term effects do you anticipate to the Chesapeake Bay runoff as a direct result of fracking in the northern and western part of the state? Are there any provisions being made now in preparation for this runoff?"

    • HCampbell img 2013-01-07 20:49

      Untreated fluids have three routes of potential flow into PA streams and, eventually, to the Bay—spills, groundwater discharge to surface waters, and illegal disposal. As for spills, they do occur from time to time. To date the impact has been confined, however, to local streams. It’s important to note that the Susquehanna River typically discharges 18 million gallons a minute to the Bay. Given that any spills that have occurred are much smaller in volume and that there is a long distance to the Bay, there is general consensus in the scientific community that any chemicals in the fluid would be diluted well below leves of concern and in many cases broken down in the environment well before they got to the Bay. Theoretically, it is possible that groundwater with residual fracking fluids may eventually discharge to surface waters. This is probably more of a short-term concern where there are problems with well casings that allow access to shallow wells (the Marcellus shale layer is thousands of feet below the surface). But, to date, no study in PA has found fracking fluid chemicals in shallow aquifers. Some studies have found high TDS, NORMs, and stray CH4 that may have been from the physical disturbance of drilling. A majority of the injected fluids are recovered from the shale layer, so the residual left deep in the ground where it may interface with deep aquifers may not be as great as once suspected. Illegal disposal could be a concern but I don’t think it's a large scale issue; nonetheless, we continue to advocate for greater manifest requirements, particularly electronic recordkeeping.

      Then there are treated fluids. Surface discharges of treated fracking fluids have been phased out in PA. There are a few remaining industrial treatment facilities, mostly outside the watershed, but this practice has given way to recycling and deep well injection in Ohio.

      I do have concerns pertaining to the individual and synergistic impacts of such chemicals, even at very low concentrations. These concerns are centered to local streams and human health impacts near spills or through chronic exposure to contaminated water or soils, however. But, as far as the impact to the Bay, I don’t think this should be a significant concern given the information we currently have.

      We significant concern lies is the forest loss and increase in stormwater runoff from well pads, pipelines, and new or ill-maintained roads. We believe Pennsylvania must quantify and account for any impact this industry will have in that regard as it is inequitable to ask everyone else to do their fair share to "Save the Bay."

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-07 09:40

    E-mail from Bonnie:

    "My family and I own several thousand feet along the Mill Creek in Lancaster County. What trees and bushes may we plant along the stream bank for stream conservation? Where may we find information about how to conduct this project?"

    • HCampbell img 2013-01-07 21:04

      Thank you for your interest! PA has a guidance manual to help landowners plan for and implement streamside forest, aka, forested riparian buffers. Go to: www.elibrary.dep.state.pa.us/dsweb/Get/...82308/394-5600-001.pdf

      If you need assistance, please visit our webpage for contact information for the PA office of CBF and we can connect you to our Lancaster Co restoration specialist.

  • Jerry W. Stirkey img 2013-01-07 09:57

    Harry Campbell LOVES the word, "myriad".

  • John img 2013-01-07 10:03

    The CBF “senior scientist” did not, in my opinion, mention one of the most critical failures affecting water quality in the Chesapeake Bay. Our failure to maintain flood plains and wetlands in a natural undeveloped state has allowed centuries of unfiltered sediment to enter the watershed’s streams, and rivers. In addition to carrying all the nutrients and toxics of concern, the impact of thermal pollution of unfiltered runoff from large asphalt covered areas was not mentioned also.

    • HCampbell img 2013-01-07 20:59

      You are right, John. I didn't explicitly talk about how the loss of wetlands and our failure to keep buildings and other activities away from floodplains has and continues to impact our waters. Nor did I have the opportunity to talk about temperature (thermal) pollution. We don't assess thermal pollution in the State of the Bay report, but it has a profound impact on the stream health. I would contend that in advocating for streamside forests, I implicitly addressed floodplain protection and restoration along with thermal issues and wetlands. Our field staff in PA has restored over 2,400 miles of streamside forests in the last 15 years or so. Along with that restoration has come over 4,000 acres of forested wetlands. They go hand-in-hand. These efforts have restored many floodplains to greater funcionality and the trees and shrubs in them help abate the temperature impacts you cite through shading of the stream and increased infiltration of "hot" stormwater. Green infrastructure, which I mentioned, also helps do thes same thing in urban/suburban areas. Finally, CBF along with numerous other organizations advocated for greater floodplain protections (in the form of stream buffer setbacks for new development) as part of a re-write of PA's rules on construction several years ago. We got those rules for our "special protection" waters.

  • John img 2013-01-07 10:04

    The CBF “senior scientist” did not, in my opinion, mention one of the most critical failures affecting water quality in the Chesapeake Bay. Our failure to maintain flood plains and wetlands in a natural undeveloped state has allowed centuries of unfiltered sediment to enter the watershed’s streams, and rivers. In addition to carrying all the nutrients and toxics of concern, the impact of thermal pollution of unfiltered runoff from large asphalt covered areas was not mentioned also.

  • sun4meplz img 2013-01-07 10:09

    Nine year old Grace Lustig was the last caller of the program. The petition she metioned can be found at
    http://www.change.org/petitions/the-u-s-senate-declare-the-susquehanna-river-impaired-under-the-federal-clean-water-act
    It was closed but has beeen re-opened for a short time for any interested in signing it!

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