The 2018 Chesapeake Bay report card is out, issued by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. It shows the Bay has maintained a C grade.
The report says the Bay shows an overall trend of improvement but remained the same grade due to extremely high precipitation levels over the past year. Researchers say nearly all metrics showed decline in 2018 including water clarity, underwater grasses and dissolved oxygen. Nutrient runoff was also abundant, feeding algae blooms. Scientists remain optimistic, as all regions have been improving steadily since 2014.
Locally, thee Choptank River was responsible for the strongest regional decline. Fish populations declined from an A grade to a B grade.
Governor Larry Hogan released a statement saying “Our administration is pleased to see continued improvement in the health and resilience of our most precious natural asset, the Chesapeake Bay.” Senator Ben Cardin said “Our progress has been hampered by extreme weather events, but we must keep fighting.” Senator Chris Van Hollen stated “Improving the health of the Bay doesn’t happen overnight, or even in a month or year.”
Secretary Ben Grumbles of the Maryland Department of the Environment said “The report card continues to underscore the generally positive trend in Bay water quality and watershed health, despite challenges from last year’s record rainfall, flooding and runoff.” Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources stated “We are a proud partner of UMCES, particularly when it comes to this report.” She continued “This is powerful information from our department to have as we continue developing strategies to protect our natural resources.”