June 2011 -- Former Maryland State Senator Bernie Fowler saw his white sneakers through 31.25 inches of water at the 24th annual Patuxent River wade-in on June 12. This was down three inches from last year and a far cry from the 60-plus inches of water Fowler could see his sneakers through during his youth.The place I used to work at, from 1985 to 1994 was on the Patuxent River. I have a hard time believing that even in Bernie Fowler's youth the Patuxent was clear enough to see 60 inches. We did get a few very clear days once in while due to an unusual bloom of some kind of filter feeder.
About 100 government officials, environmental leaders and members of the community joined Fowler at Jefferson Patterson Park, where the annual Patuxent River wade-in is now held. Fowler had previously hosted the wade-in near his childhood home on Broomes Island.
The Patuxent wade-in is held on the second Sunday of June each year to draw attention to the muddy, polluted waters of the river and Chesapeake Bay. Fowler speaks of the days of his youth when he could wade up to his shoulders in his beloved Patuxent and still see the river's bottom, teeming with crabs and fish swimming among the grasses and oyster shells.
The "sneaker index" is a measurement of the deepest point at which Fowler can still see his white sneakers as he wades into the Patuxent River.
The Patuxent River wade-in has spawned community wade-ins on many creeks and rivers throughout Maryland.
I do see 5 feet of visibility in the bay occasionally, but it's darn rare. I have a dim memory of visiting the Chesapeake Bay as a child, actually, quite near where I live now (up the Bay about 5 miles, according to my Mom), and swimming in nearly green soup. That would be over 50 years ago, so the situation has been bad for quite a while now
We have Bernie up to the place I work now for a wade-in most years, in conjuction with our open house. I doubt we have even gotten much more than a couple of feet. There's a reason they call it Muddy Creek.