The Chesapeake Bay is a popular tourist destination in Virginia, specifically Virginia Beach. The beaches surrounding the bay are not heavily packed and the water is calm enough to have a relaxing and fun day at the beach. Families come from all over to spend days at the bay and hours in the water. However, little do these families know, the waters their families are swimming in are full of many different dangerous aspects. Immediately you may think of wildlife dangers but those are the least of your worries.
The social issue I would like to discuss is the constant pollution to the Chesapeake Bay. Pollution is a word that many people push past and ignore on a daily basis. This is because they know many of the technologies or means of travel we use often cause pollution to our world and they feel there is nothing they can do about it. People also ignore the fact that our waterways we swim, drink, bathe, and do many other activities in are also heavily polluted but still continue to thrive in them. The Chesapeake Bay is being constantly polluted on a daily basis and the knowledge people have of this pollution is slim to none, which is a scary thought.
I came across a wonderful website titled, “Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Saving a National Treasure” that described the main ways the Chesapeake Bay is being polluted. These ways are by nitrogen and phosphorus run-off. Nitrogen and phosphorus are two key nutrients the bay needs to survive, but too much of these nutrients damage the water quality. These nutrients come from many unsuspected places that people need to be more educated about. Animal feed lots, sewage treatment plants, and polluted runoff from cropland in urban and suburban areas are the main locations where some of these pollutants come from. About 1/3 of the nitrogen going into the waters comes from a well known location, vehicles. Car exhaust and industrial sources pollute the air daily with nitrogen that then enters the bay. When this pollution enters the bay it forms algal blooms that are large and block sunlight from entering the bay. This decreases the amount of oxygen that forms and kills the underwater grasses. These areas in the bay have been labeled “dead zones”, where no oxygen forms, and are the locations where fish and shellfish also die and decompose. Aside from blocking oxygen, algal blooms also raise pH level in the waters which spreads and kills more bay life and prospers the growth of parasites. Besides killing bay life, these algae that form also can be toxic and sicken people who ingest the water.
Many different people can be considered stakeholders when dealing with the pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. The most important are the locals. The locals use the bay more than anyone else and have to see the damages that are occurring, but are much uninformed. Also there are many groups and organizations that are trying all they can to clean up the bay, but it is staying a slow process. A final stakeholder is the fishermen who are slowly losing all their business due to this pollution. The pollution to the Chesapeake Bay is a very serious issue. I believe people need to be better informed of the issues and need to do everything they can to prevent future pollution. By focusing on this issue I hope to better inform the locals of the current pollution problem and also do all I can to stop the nitrogen and phosphorus runoff. After during research on my topic I hope to discover a primary source that could help me reach my ultimate goal of informing locals and the people causing the pollution, “pollutants”, about this issue. I also hope to do something about the water I swim in during the summers and hopefully clean the water for other people as well.
“Dead Zones.” Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Chesapeake Bay Foundation, n.d. Web. 12 Sep 2013. <http://citationmachine.net/index2.php?reqstyleid=1&mode=form&rsid=6&reqsrcid=MLAWebDocument&more=yes&nameCnt=1>.