Report: Bay Dead Zone Better than Average this Month

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has released its report on the Chesapeake Bay’s “dead zone” for early August, and the news is good.

The hypoxic, or oxygen-deficient, water volume in Maryland was 0.91 cubic miles, compared to the average from the last 31 years, 1.31 cubic miles. And the report found no anoxic zones, or areas totally void of dissolved oxygen.

The worse the hypoxic water volume, the bigger the impact on the Bay’s wildlife—including crabs, fish, oysters and other creatures.

Maryland DNR says the favorable conditions may be happening because of lower than average temperatures just before samples were taken. Lower temperatures hold more oxygen, and also allow oxygen to mix into deeper waters.

In the beginning of June, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Geological Survey, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and University of Michigan scientists predicted a slightly larger than average hypoxic volume for the Bay because of to higher spring flows and nitrogen loading from the Susquehanna River.

Scientists and natural resource managers will continue to monitor and report the volume and duration of Bay hypoxia through September.

Beth McGee, Chesapeake Bay Foundation Director of Science and Agricultural Policy, issued a statement responding to the new report:

“This is good news, and another sign that the Bay may be becoming more resilient. Last year’s record acreage of Bay grasses, improving oyster populations, and a smaller dead zone all indicate the Clean Water Blueprint is working. Progress will only continue with increased efforts from the Bay states, and EPA’s full participation. As Chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Executive Council, Governor Hogan’s leadership is critical to ensure that Bay restoration efforts are on track to meet the pollution-reduction goals.”

More information on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay water quality monitoring program and results can be found here.