Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A New Record for Bernie's Sneaker Sightings

Not Bernie Sanders, Bernie  Fowler of Chesapeake Bay fame:
Former Maryland State Senator Bernie Fowler saw his sneakers through 44.5 inches of water at this year’s 28th annual Patuxent River Wade-In on June 14. This marks the deepest measurement of the “sneaker index”—the deepest point at which Fowler can still see his shoes as he wades into the water—since 1997.

Fowler holds the wade-in each year on the second Sunday in June to bring attention to the polluted waters of the Patuxent River and the Chesapeake Bay. After decades on Broomes Island, the event moved to Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum in 2010.

In his youth, Fowler could wade into the Patuxent up to his chest and still see fish, shellfish and underwater grasses. But nutrient and sediment pollution in the river have led to degraded water clarity and fueled algae blooms that block sunlight from reaching the river bottom. The 1960s sneaker index of 57 inches now serves as the benchmark for a restored Patuxent River. While still well below this target, this year’s measurement is close to double last year’s depth of 23 inches.
From 23 to 44 inches in one year? Wow, at this rate, the water at Broomes Island Jefferson Patterson Park will be as clear as the Cook Islands in what, a decade or so? Depending on whether the progression is linear or exponential. Of course, a lot of variability sneaks in, so it's more likely than not that next year will be worse again, much worse. I wouldn't be scheduling a Kate Upton photo shoot there any year in the near future.

Bernie Leading a Wade In on the Rhode River, 2009
He's the one with the stick

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