Water Quality

For the Chesapeake Bay to be a productive ecosystem, the water of the Bay, its rivers and its streams must be healthy. In other words, it should be clear, contain the right amounts of oxygen and algae, and be free of chemical contaminants. Good water quality supports fish and wildlife populations and allows for healthy human interaction with the watershed.

Water quality is closely tied to many Bay restoration goals. For example, healthy waters support the growth of bay grass beds, which offer food and habitat to fish, shellfish and waterfowl. In addition, economically important species like blue crabs, oysters and striped bass need healthy, oxygen-rich waters to survive.

Efforts to improve water quality focus largely on reducing the amount of nutrients, sediment and chemical contaminants that enter the Bay. In order to reduce these pollutants, state, federal and local government agencies, as well as non-government organizations, plan and carry out both regulatory and voluntary pollution-reducing practices.

Topics

Air Pollution

Pollutants released into the air by cars, gas-powered lawn tools, power plants and other sources fall back to the earth’s surface, where it can wind up in our waterways.

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Nutrients

Nutrients are chemicals that living things need to grow and survive. But when too many nutrients enter the Chesapeake Bay, they can create conditions that are harmful for wildlife.

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Sediments

Sediment is made up of loose particles of sand, silt and clay. It is a natural part of the Chesapeake Bay, but in excess amounts, it can cloud the water and harm plants, fish and shellfish.

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Toxics

Most of the Chesapeake Bay’s tidal waters are impaired by toxic contaminants. Pesticides, pharmaceuticals, metals and more are harmful to human and environmental health.

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Water Quality Monitoring

Monitoring changes in water quality can reveal changes in the health of the Chesapeake Bay. An understanding of water quality and pollution levels is valuable for policy makers and conservationists.

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Wastewater and Stormwater

Pollution released into the air by cars, trucks, gas-powered lawn tools, power plants and other sources fall back to the earth’s surface, where it could wind up in our waterways.

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