View Full Version : cutting the nitrogen out of the Chesapeake Bay

07-25-2010, 08:23 AM
The EPA wants to cut the amount of nitrogen a pollution indicator that leads to oxygen-deprived dead zones from entering the bay by about 30 percent by 2025.

pumping nitrogen into the bay, most comes from the land, but it is more politically expedient to make it a no discharge zone.

So will the bay get a break from all those hundreds of boaters dumping into it?

Mad Scientist
07-25-2010, 10:33 PM
I had to giggle at a couple of things - there's a reference to 'diary' farmers in the article, and then there's the implication of a cap-&-trade Manure Market.

Rumour has it that manure makes pretty good fertilizer.


07-26-2010, 08:58 AM
If I recall when I lived there one of the big problems was the run off from the massive chicken factories on the Eastern Shore.

Bruce Hooke
07-26-2010, 09:27 AM
Interesting. I've heard it said that the easy solutions to cleaning up the bay have already been implemented (most of these would have dealt with "point source" pollution such as sewage treatment plants) and to make much more progress on cleaning up the bay would require "lifestyle" changes by millions of people who live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. An example would be getting people to not apply lawn fertilizer near any water body with a flowing connection to the bay. People tend to forget that the little "wet ditch" that runs across their property, 100 miles from the bay and a few miles from the nearest flowing water that someone could reasonably call a river, still has a connection to the bay and that the run-off from their lawn becomes one small contributor to the very big problems in the bay.

Stan D
07-26-2010, 09:49 PM
While still a factor, lawn fertilizers are a minor contributor compared to raw manure. And a major contributor of that actually comes from Pennsylvania, and farms (lots of them, too) that have runoff into the Susquehanna River that feeds the north end of the Bay. Add the chicken farms on the Eastern Shore and we have a big problem. And all those "easy solutions" don't even scratch the surface. This is why the farming lobby is so opposed to any legislation that could do any good.

What got me laughing in that article was a suggestion that "Virginia could target power plant emissions".

07-27-2010, 06:01 AM

Here is the watershed. 64000 square miles, the largest in the East.

The chicken farms certainly are a problem. So is the increasing density of development that increases impervious areas.

Most, but not all of the crop farms around here practice the "no till" method, which helps some. But the soils on the Eastern Shore, at least, are so thick and full of clay, that rain just rolls right off the land and does not have much of a chance to sink in.

07-27-2010, 06:18 AM
Another point that has been mised is that the Bay's filtration system has been eaten. Cheaspeake Bay Maritime Museum has a great exhibit on oystering, with a comparo of sizes then and now - the difference is stunning. It is also noted that back in Colonial times the oyster/clam population was such that the bay was probably filtered every 2 or 3 DAYS. Now, it is twice a YEAR if that. A year moritorium on striper fishing allowed the stocks to rebound tremendously, to the point where there is evidence that increased fishing may be necessary to keep them from overeating their food stocks. Although politically "3rd rail", it might be good to have a 3 to 5 year moritorium on oyster dredging to let them really rebuild. Crabs were limited for a few years and have rebounded. Also, anything to replenish the grass beds and turtles (which eat a lot of jellyfish,IIRC) would be worthy.

Sam F
07-27-2010, 07:42 AM
Some of the local farmers (not all mind you) have the attitude about their cows hanging out in the creeks* and doing what they do... "Let nature take its course."
Which is an excuse for doing nothing.

*every one of which drains into the Chesapeake