Annual ‘Bay Barometer’ shows improvements and weaknesses in Chesapeake Bay


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The 2017-2018 Bay Barometer, which breaks down the health of the Chesapeake Bay, is in. The report says overall, the bay has been improving, but there is always room to do better.

The Chesapeake Bay stretches more than 500 miles from New York to Norfolk. More than 21,000 square miles of Virginia sit within in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

This year’s Bay Barometer from the Chesapeake Bay Program shows improvement in some areas and the need for work in others.

“Water is a key component of where we live in Hampton Roads and the quality of the water in the Chesapeake Bay is really paramount to the future of our area,” said Norfolk City Councilwoman Andria McClellan, who sits on the local advisory committee for the program. “It’s a huge component of who we are. Obviously so much of our coastline is along the Chesapeake Bay.”

She says oyster restoration is going well and the Lafayette River is at its target goal.

This year also marks the highest water quality score since monitoring started more than 30 years ago.

There are some areas that need improvement, like toxic contaminants getting into our water. 

“Because we live on the Chesapeake Bay watershed, we really need to be cognizant about all those sorts of things, not littering, picking up after your dog, reducing your use of pesticides or fertilizer,” McClellan said.

For the first time, the Bay Barometer looked at climate change and its affects on the watershed. 

McClellan said, “We’re looking at everything from the standpoint of the temperature of waters to rising sea levels, how does that affect things.”

The other piece of good news is that you can make small changes to make next year’s report even better.

“We can each make our small difference, but added together, is a pretty large difference for the Chesapeake Bay,” McClellan said. 

She says moving forward, the City of Norfolk will be looking at projects that serve multiple functions, like flood mitigation and enhancing water quality.

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