Chesapeake Bay cleanup shows results, but more watershed work is needed

LCA has written before  about how things that happen upstream have a compounded effect when they end up downstream. Fertilizers, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and even mud and silt from development all, eventually, end up in the ocean. In Pennsylvania’s case, this often happens via the Chesapeake Bay.

According to a new report, there’s been some progress cleaning up the bay, but there’s still much to be done. The report, by the Environmental Integrity Project, states that big public investment in sewage treatment upgrades helped reduce nitrogen discharges from Maryland and Virginia into the bay in 2011. Pennsylvania, however, saw an increase of 4 percent. This is most likely due to problems with our state’s aging infrastructure, a topic we wrote about last Spring.  In municipalities across the country, sewer systems are often overwhelmed by rain or melting snow, and Pennsylvania’s are no different. Many of the state’s oldest sewer lines, built in the first half of the last century, combine the stormwater and sanitary sewer systems. As little as one-tenth of an inch of rain can cause overflows that lead to untreated sewerage being washed into waterways. Rest assured that LCA has been hard at work since 2009 to correct these problems in our service area.

However, there’s always more that can be done, by everyone, to keep our waterways clean. Proper disposal of unwanted or expired medications (they should NOT be flushed down the toilet); proper disposal of chemicals; the establishment of buffer zones, and better management of fertilizers (for instance, the reduction or elimination of lawn fertilizers) are simple but big steps we can all take.

The more we learn about our environment, the more we learn about the importance of source water protection. Do your part today.

You can read the EIP’s Chesapeake Bay report here.