By: Laura Rosbrow-Telem
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Chesapeake Bay became more polluted last year for the first time in a decade according to a new report from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation – and a majority of the pollution came from Pennsylvania.
The foundation’s “State of the Bay Report” said extreme weather from climate change – including record rainfall in the summer – caused large amounts of dirty water to flow into the bay. In particular, increased pollution from farms and city streets drained into rivers and streams, especially the Susquehanna River.
According to Harry Campbell, Pennsylvania executive director for the foundation, more than half the state of Pennsylvania is part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
“It’s all about Pennsylvania’s rivers and streams and the lands that drain into them,” Campbell said. “And if we were to sustainably and successfully address this issue, we have to start at that source.”
Campbell recommends cost-effective, green solutions such as planting more trees along city streets, rivers and streams. This would help absorb nitrogen and other pollutants from the air and runoff from the land. According to the state Department of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania has 19,000 miles of polluted rivers and streams.
Campbell also advocated helping farmers so that less debris and pollutants from agricultural areas enter bodies of water. He said helping farmers adapt will likely cost the state resources beyond what is available in the farm bill.
“There is a need for additional logistical, technical and financial assistance to help get the plans that are necessary to keep soils and nutrients on the land instead of in the water,” he said.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William Baker applauded the Keystone State’s efforts to improve the watershed.
“The Commonwealth is actually developing a good science-based plan as to how to move forward,” Baker said. “But there is simply no evidence that they have the political will to fund it.”
Baker had some pointed words for the president.
“The Trump administration’s anti-environmental policies must be stopped,” he said.
He urged the public to oppose the administration’s denial of climate change and efforts to roll back environmental protections.
The foundation’s State of the Bay Report is available at cbf.org.