This summer, the veteran waterman steered his workboat to a spot off Point Lookout, near Maryland’s southern tip, where he had set his crab pots. He pulled them up to find they were filled with dead crabs.
Norris has worked the bay for nearly 20 years, and he has long known about “bad water” — oxygen-deprived swaths where little can live. But this was the first week in July. He had never seen bad water so early, or in so many places.
“It’s disheartening,” he said, “to say the least.”
During the past 25 years, several billion dollars in state and federal funds have gone to bay cleanup programs. A large chunk of that — including money from Maryland’s landmark flush tax — has paid for improvements to sewage treatment plants. Other money has gone to farmers to plant cover crops and conserve land.
Environmental experts say those steps have helped to hold the line — that the bay would be in even worse shape without them. But it has not gotten better.
The Sun has a new two-part look at the sinking health of the Chesapeake and at watershed woes doing it harm — with emphasis on Maryland’s own watershed & river problems. (The Chesapeake watershed covers an area from central New York to southern Virginia.) The first article, run today, details ongoing river pollution problems in Maryland. And it comes with video coverage, if that’s your preferred medium.