Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Seems Like it Happens Every Year

Heavy rains, melting snow taking toll on Chesapeake Bay water clarity, threaten bay grasses
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Heavy rains and melting snow are taking a toll on the Chesapeake Bay.

Maryland natural resources officials say they are bringing a flood of nutrients and sediments into the bay, threatening water quality. The heavy spring runoff has led to record low water clarity in many areas.

More wet weather could mean more polluted runoff that can spawn oxygen-robbing algal blooms and lead to fewer underwater grasses, which are a key habitat for many species.

The Department of Natural Resources says the flow over the Conowingo Dam on March 12 was the highest since Tropical Storm Ivan in 2004, and more than six times average for the month.
Chesapeake Bay 3/22/11 - Aqua Satellite view
Every year in March, as we anticipate the opening of fishing season, and particularly the opening of the special "Catch and Release" season on the Susquehanna Flats, we watch the weather and dread the melting snow or heavy rains that will send a slug of dirty water down the Susquehanna and into to the Bay.  This brings nutrients that set up the eutrophication of summer, and the sediments themselves block the light necessary for submerged aquatic vegetation to grow, and just incidentally, keep fish from seeing the lures we drag in front of their noses. You can see this in the satellite photo from yesterday (right), which shows a distinct plume of brown stretching down from the head of the Bay.  The amount of sediment in the upper region of the Bay, called the Susquehanna Flats, has a very strong effect on the fishing. Some years are better than others though, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

No comments:

Post a Comment