The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) released its 2022 State of the Bay report. The biennial evaluation graded the Bay and its watershed at a D+, unchanged from the 2020 score.
“Efforts to restore the Bay are struggling to reduce agricultural pollution. Urban and suburban polluted runoff is increasing amid inconsistent enforcement by government agencies, new development, and climate change,” the report claims.
“While we’ve made significant progress, far too much pollution still reaches our waterways and climate change is making matters worse,” said CBF President Hilary Harp Falk. “The good news is that the Bay is remarkably resilient and there is tremendous energy around the table. With many new leaders taking charge—EPA administrators, governors, legislators, and within environmental organizations—we have an opportunity to prove that restoring clean water is possible. By following the science, approaching our challenges with optimism, and holding each other accountable, we will leave clean water, strong economies, and vibrant communities for the next generation.”
In 2022, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s State of the Bay score remained a 32, with seven of the 13 indicators unchanged, three increasing, and three decreasing.
In the pollution category nitrogen, toxics, and dissolved oxygen indicators were unchanged, the phosphorus indicator improved, and overall water clarity declined. Recent farm conservation funding at the federal and state levels should help reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, which the CBF says fuels harmful algal blooms that remove dissolved oxygen from the water. Monitoring data indicated the 2022 dead zone—the area of the Bay with low or no dissolved oxygen—was the 10th smallest in size since scientists began surveying it 38 years ago, an encouraging sign. Water clarity dropped one point in the report due to average water clarity in the Bay decreasing slightly in 2022 compared to 2020.
In the fisheries category, the rockfish (striped bass) and oyster indicators rose, while the blue crab indicator declined.