Monthly Archives: October 2013

Solutions For the Bay (Blog #7)

A “mahogany tide” creeps toward shore. Algal blooms like these are the result of too much nitrogen in the water, causing the explosive growth of algae. Photo © 2010 Morgan Heim/iLCP

The Chesapeake Bay Program stated that close to one-quarter of the land located in the Chesapeake Bay watershed is focused on agricultural production. Agriculture is an important aspect to many people because it provides foods and fibers, natural area, and environmental benefits. Although agriculture provides us with important resources it also is the largest source of nutrient and sediment pollution to the Chesapeake Bay. These excess nutrients and sediments that are entering the bay enter from agricultural runoff. The main issue with agricultural runoff is the types of fertilizers farmers are using on their crops.

The fertilizers they are using are chemical ones which contain large amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen. Although the bay does need phosphorus and nitrogen to survive, large amounts that the bay is receiving are slowing damaging the bay and its wild life. According to the Chesapeake Bay program, these fertilizers contribute 42 percent of the nitrogen, 58 percent of the phosphorus and 58 perfect of the sediment that enters the bay. From 2010 estimates from the EPA, chemical fertilizers, in specific, account for 17 percent of the nitrogen and 19 percent of the phosphorus entering 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, pollution also affects these species in different ways.

I believe the Chesapeake Bay needs to be clear of polluted runoff and clean for the species living inside and outside of the bay to survive. Things are being done to help clean the bay but by health standards the pollution level in the bay is still in critical condition. In order to make the bay a cleaner and runoff free location different solutions have been suggested. “The five most cost-effective conservation practices include streamside buffers, streamside fencing, nutrient management plans, continuous no-till, and cover crops. These practices reduce the most amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus per dollar spent” (Chesapeake Bay Foundation). Each of these solutions have different methods in preventing run-off.

Streamside buffers are very large, at almost 35 feet wide on each side of the stream, and are used to filter and gather the runoff from fertilizers before entering waterways. Streamside fencing is a much different solution that surrounds farms with fences to prevent animals and their waste from entering rivers and streams. This solution helps reduce the pollution levels and also erosion as well. Nutrient management plans are a communication solution rather than a border like solution. These plans educate farmers on what fertilizers to use on crops that will least pollute waterways. Continuous no till is a solution that limits erosion and also decreases soil disturbances. By using the no till solution the soil’s health can improve and also its level to hold moisture. Cover crops are the final possible solution for farmers because these crops are planted to soak up the remaining fertilizer than could enter waterways.

To implement these solutions a few steps need to be taken.

  1. Farmers need to be informed of the solutions that are available for them to decrease their levels of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay.
  2. Farmers need to enforce these solutions and management practices as quickly as possible.
  3. The general public also needs to be informed of what solutions are available to help decrease the bay pollution as well. This could help decrease the pollution drastically.

Letters, flyers, emails, websites, and many other forms of communication can be created and sent to inform farmers of what they can do. Resistance may be seen from farmers who believe the chemical fertilizers they are using are the best for their crops. However, if they are properly informed that chemical fertilizers are not the best option for them then I believe solutions will be put forth. Bu educating the general public they can gain concerns as well and help the effort to clean the bay before it gets damaged any worse.

Valente, Jenna. “Ten Invasive Species of the Chesapeake Bay.” Chesapeake Bay Program. Chesapeake Bay Program, 22 Apr 2013. Web. 27 Sep 2013. <http://www.chesapeakebay.net/blog/post/ten_invasive_species_of_the_chesapeake_bay>.

“Chemical Contaminents.” Chesapeake Bay Program. Chesapeake Bay Program, n.d. Web. 27 Sep 2013. <http://www.chesapeakebay.net/issues/issue/chemical_contaminants>.

Staff, . “Dead Zones.” Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Chesapeake Bay Foundation, n.d. Web. 27 Sep 2013. <http://www.cbf.org/about-the-bay/maps/pollution/dead-zones>.

Agricultural Runoff IS the Main Problem

By: Kelsey Garletts

                      Pollution in the Chesapeake Bay is an issue that is prevalent in Virginia and Maryland areas where the bay flows into. However, for my issue I want to narrow it down to the pollution to the bay area that specifically touches Virginia Beach. Virginia Beach is my home and a very beautiful landscape that I don’t want to see destroyed. Since the bay is a large watershed that many different rivers and streams filter into, there are several types of pollution entering the bay. For my focus on pollution and the bay the pollution type I am going to discuss into a deeper more in depth level is agricultural runoff. If you are uninformed what exactly agricultural runoff is, or have not read my past blogs then agricultural runoff is defined as the water flow that occurs when the soil is infiltrated to full capacity and excess water from rain, meltwater, or other sources flows over the land. Agricultural runoff enters steams and rivers from all over the state that eventually enter the Chesapeake Bay.

                The main issue with agricultural runoff is the types of fertilizers farmers are using on their crops. The fertilizers they are using are chemical ones which contain large amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen. Although the bay does need phosphorus and nitrogen to survive, large amounts that the bay is receiving are slowing damaging the bay and its wild life. According to the Chesapeake Bay program, these fertilizers contribute 42 percent of the nitrogen, 58 percent of the phosphorus and 58 perfect of the sediment that enters the bay. From 2010 estimates from the EPA, chemical fertilizers, in specific, account for 17 percent of the nitrogen and 19 percent of the phosphorus entering 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, pollution also affects these species in different ways. Pollution causes the suppression of behavioral and immune systems in fish, the development of intersex conditions in fish and impaired reproduction of fish eating birds.

Besides the species inside of the bay being affected the locals living around the bay are also affected. What was once a beautiful place to walk and relax is slowing turning into a dead area where dead fish are being washed up, the waters are slowly turning dark brown, and even people can become ill from the high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus. Tourists and locals that come to the bay come for a relaxing vacation or just a fun day, they don’t come to get sick and be disgusted by the dead species and dark waters.

There are two programs out there who are doing all they can to help the bay. One is the Chesapeake Bay Program and the other is the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. These two websites are vital for my information and are great places to go if you want to help clean the bay. The bay can’t clean its self and people need to be informed of the issue of agricultural runoff before it gets worse.

Works Cited

Valente, Jenna. “Ten Invasive Species of the Chesapeake Bay.” Chesapeake Bay Program. Chesapeake Bay Program, 22 Apr 2013. Web. 27 Sep 2013. <http://www.chesapeakebay.net/blog/post/ten_invasive_species_of_the_chesapeake_bay>.

“Chemical Contaminents.” Chesapeake Bay Program. Chesapeake Bay Program, n.d. Web. 27 Sep 2013. <http://www.chesapeakebay.net/issues/issue/chemical_contaminants>.

Staff, . “Dead Zones.” Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Chesapeake Bay Foundation, n.d. Web. 27 Sep 2013. <http://www.cbf.org/about-the-bay/maps/pollution/dead-zones>.

Baker, William, and Tom Horton. “Runoff and The Chesapeake Bay.” Black and White Photographs. 16.6 n. page. Web. 4 Oct. 2013. <http://ehis.ebscohost.com.proxy.longwood.edu/eds/detail?sid=27192255-aa7d-46e7-87f4-2d60349f8ce4@sessionmgr115&vid=1&hid=115&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmUmc2NvcGU9c2l0ZQ==

Everything You Need to Know About the Bay (Blog 5)

By: Kelsey Garletts

The Chesapeake Bay is a beautiful destination for many tourists from all over the country. From its amazing sunsets to non crowded beaches, the Chesapeake Bay is a relaxing and wonderful place to be.  Although the bay may look this way on the outside, the inside is dealing with some very concerning issues. One main and very important source of this pollution is agricultural runoff and more importantly, fertilizers. 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.

Fertilizer was invented in the 1940’s by farmers to kill bugs and weeds that were thriving on their crops. The fertilizer contained chemical pesticides, nitrogen and phosphorus, that had a better affect than manure did on plants. Back in the 1940’s the farmers and locals did not realize what these fertilizers were doing to the Chesapeake Bay so they were used quote often, quickly polluting the bay. Runoff gets into the bay from groundwater and through rivers and streams that flow into the bay. This means that not only are the local farmers causing pollution, but also farmers from all over.

By addressing my issue and proposing a solution I believe all of my stake holders would benefit. The Chesapeake Bay Program and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation may gain more followers and more workers to help clean the bay. Locals and tourists would have clean waters to swim and relax in without the worry of constant pollution. Also businesses would stay at a growing rate because of the products they will continue to receive from a clean bay. Finally the species in the bay will finally have a home to live in and continue to prosper and grow in the bay.

Things are being done to help clean the bay but by health standards the pollution level in the bay is still in critical condition. In order to make the bay a cleaner and runoff free location different solutions have been suggested. “The five most cost-effective conservation practices include streamside buffers, streamside fencing, nutrient management plans, and continuous no-till, and cover crops. These practices reduce the most amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus per dollar spent” (Chesapeake Bay Foundation). Each of these solutions has different methods in preventing run-off. Something needs to be done to change their practices and clean the Chesapeake Bay back to its healthy state. Without enforcing the solutions suggested before nothing will change and the bay will continue to be polluted. It’s time to educate farmers and make a change in the bay now, before it gets worse and we lose many resources important to us.

Critical Source Summary:

Chesapeake Bay Foundation, . “Farming’s Critical Role to Keep Our Waters Clean.” Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Chesapeake Bay Foundation, n.d. Web. 7 Oct 2013. <http://www.cbf.org/how-we-save-the-bay/issues/agriculture>.

This web page discusses the issues farming has with pollution. However, it also brings about another side of this issue and how the farming business is being demised. This foundation mentions solutions and what they are doing to clean the bay. Also they mention how we can help. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is an important one help define my position because they are a nonprofit organization that is doing all they can to save the bay. I can find any information I want about the bay and what runoff is actually doing to the bay. The solutions they list are actual solutions that are being put forth currently to clean the bay free of pollution.

Chesapeake Bay, We Have A Problem… Blog 4

The Chesapeake Bay seems to be filled with different problems that rise because of pollution but what is the main problem here? That problem would be agricultural runoff! But the exact issue with runoff is the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus that is being dumped into the bay because of fertilizers. Although farmers often use natural sources as fertilizers, “they frequently apply commercial fertilizers as well. The result is soil that is saturated with excess nutrients. Attached to the soil, the nutrients wash toward the bay in overland runoff. They can also dissolve in water that percolates below the surface into streams and rivers flowing to the estuary. Polluted land equals polluted water” (Baker, and Horton). THIS IS A PROBLEM. The bay is being destroyed, along with its marine life that thrives inside of it. But why is agricultural pollution the biggest of the bays worries? The answer is “the runoff of “nutrients,” the nitrogen and phosphorus are prime culprits in the bay’s decline, is several times as great from farmlands as it is from any other source”(Baker, and Horton).  Something more needs to be done.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Chesapeake Bay Program are people who are slowly working to fix this problem. Their ultimate mission is to clean the bay to good health and meet the water quality standards. These foundations and programs are the main supporters of the clean bay and work to prevent runoff in the future. They do all they can to make the issues known to more people than just the locals but it is harder than it seems. They have created web sites and information all over to help spread the word and really affect the person reading enough to do something. What this all really comes down to is that if people aren’t educated about what is happening then the bay will continue to be polluted.

However, there is another side to this argument. This is the famers that cause the pollution. Farmers rely on chemical fertilizers to help their crops grow and to produce more for their business. Yes, they do understand that they are adding to the pollution, but their business is what is seen as most important to them. Because of this they have gained agreement from other farmers and people around who believe crops are more important than the pollution they may be causing. However, some farmers are switching to other methods, but majority have not caught on to that trend. They persuade people by describing the importance of crops and food to our society and without it many markets will crash. Farmers try to gain the sympathy from people making them want to support their business while people completely forget about the pollution they are causing.

Something needs to be done! People need to be aware and farmers need to use different solutions for fertilizer to stop this problem!

 

 

 

Works Cited/ Critical Source Summaries

Baker, William, and Tom Horton. “Runoff and The Chesapeake Bay.” Black and White Photographs. 16.6 n. page. Web. 4 Oct. 2013. <http://ehis.ebscohost.com.proxy.longwood.edu/eds/detail?sid=27192255-aa7d-46e7-87f4-2d60349f8ce4@sessionmgr115&vid=1&hid=115&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmUmc2NvcGU9c2l0ZQ==

This journal focuses on the main issue of pollution for the Chesapeake Bay, runoff. They state two types of runoff, agricultural and developmental runoff. Agricultural runoff and caused by farming and chemical fertilizers farmers use. These fertilizers add more nitrogen and phosphorus to the bay than is needed and it is killing the life in the bay.  The developmental runoff adds sediment pieces to the bay from rainwater and drainage from construction areas. Sediments damage fish eggs, kill fish by getting into their lungs, and damages prime habitats in the bay. The journal mentions that things are being done, but not quick enough.

Comis, Don. “New Poultry Litter Applicator Offers Hope for Chesapeake Bay Area.” Agricultural Resource. 58.7 (2010): n. page. Web. 4 Oct. 2013. <http://ehis.ebscohost.com.proxy.longwood.edu/eds/detail?sid=e0a5870c-a34a-457d-921a-7689c9cd40b6@sessionmgr198&vid=1&hid=115&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmUmc2NvcGU9c2l0ZQ==

This article discusses something being done about the pollution. A Poultry Litter Applicator has been invented by people from Pennsylvania State and Virginia Tech and is being tested in areas around the Chesapeake Bay area. This applicator helps spread litter throughout the fields without damaging the lands and getting the most use of manure as possible. This is a great invention because then chemical fertilizers will be used less and pollution would decrease.